Thomas Pynchon: Mason & Dixon

Chapter 10 (pp. 94-104) Notes

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mappemond map-ð-mõnd
a map of the world (obs.) the world itself (hist.) [ L.L. mappa mundi ]
“Maps chart the history of navigation and exploration, discovery and conquest . From the earliest plans and diagrams to the most modern GIS sytems, they show a fundamental human need to know where we are in relation to our immediate neighbours and the universe. A map is by definition a representation of a space (usually the surface of the earth) and is therefore rooted in the physical world. Yet cyberspace has no fixed topography, and therefore it is the map itself that defines and becomes the space.
(Baudrillard - Precession of Simulacra).”

Hyperart Pynchon Pages
Dittersdorf, Ditters von (1739-99) 104; violin virtuoso and composer of 44 operas, and over 100 symphonies; 750

94; an apparatus showing the relative positions and motions of bodies in the solar system by balls moved by wheelwork; 209; of Engagement, 536

Quantz, Johann Joaquim (1697-1773) German flautist and composer, and court composer for Frederick II, the Great. He wrote a treatise on flute playing and composed a huge quantity of pieces for the flute; Etude, 53; 104; Imperial Melismata, 413

708; seventh planet from the sun, discovered by Herschel in 1781; 769; See also Georgian

Kepler 17; 94; 98; 162; 631

95; original name of the planet Uranus; 708

Solar System Live – the interactive Orrery of the Web. You can view the entire Solar System, or just the inner planets (through the orbit of Mars).

Why’s it Called an “Orrery”?
“For decades I, and I suspect many other folks whose fondest childhood memories include pressing the button on the clockwork orrery at the science museum until their fingers turned blue waiting for all the planets to line up –just another half-hour, Mom!–believed the word orrery to be etymologically derived from orbit: after all, thats what it demonstrates! In fact, mechanical models of the solar system, invented c. 1700 by George Graham, have been called orreries ever since the English instrument maker John Rowley named a copy he made of Graham’s machine “The Orrery” in honour of Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery.”
Solar System Live

The Orrery Orrery (or-rery), n. [Charles Boyle - 1731 4th Earl of Orrery] an apparatus showing the relative positions and motions of bodies in the solar system by balls moved by wheelwork.
Solar System Visualization

/Or"re*ry/ n.; pl. Orreries. [So named in honor of Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery.] An apparatus which illustrates, by the revolution of balls moved by wheelwork, the relative size, periodic motions, positions, orbits, etc., of bodies in the solar system.
The Orrery

Dittersdorf, Karl Ditters von
* 2. Nov. 1739 in Wien
† 24. Okt. 1799 auf Schloß Rothlhotta (bei Neuhof, Böhmen)

A quick internet search turns out thousands of documents on von Dittersdorf who “enjoyed a reputation as a composer that even eclipsed that of Haydn and Mozart” at his time ( but is relatively unknown to a wider public today. You will find the “Haydn & Mozart”-comparison in most of the texts. Excerpts from his work can be heard at amazon & alike.

Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf 1739-1799 – short biography

Carl [Karl] Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739 - 1799) – short biography and additional links.

“He composed some forty-five operas ( Il finto pazzo per amore,Betrug durch Aberglauben,Die Liebe im Narrenhause,Das rothe Käppchen ), sacred vocal music, at least 120 symphonies, chamber music (including string quartets), and keyboard music. His florid autobiography (Lebenbeschreibung,Leipzig, 1801) provides a valuable glimpse of the life of an 18th-century court musician.”

“Dittersdorf’s Moment of Glory” by Joshua Lilly

“Fame is a fickle thing; it can burst out like a shooting star and fade away just as quickly. Most composers have enjoyed their moment of fame, but for Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf, his was a long and glorious moment indeed. In his hey-day, Dittersdorf’s career even overshadowed Franz Josef Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. His was music ‘that will live on forever’…but it seems that history has seen to it that this was proven a false prophecy, and the music of Haydn and Mozart probably hammered in the nails that sealed Dittersdorf’s coffin.”
Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739-1799) by Allan Badley:
“Carl Ditters was one of the most prolific and versatile of the Viennese contemporaries of Haydn and Mozart. He was also one of the most engaging professional musicians of his generation and his famous autobiography, completed two days before his death, reveals a man of charm, vivacity and learning.”
both articles by Joshua Lilly and Allan Badley on one page at

in German: Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf von Andreas Daams:

„Ich will, da ich gewiß weiß, daß mein Name und meine Werke in ganz Europa bekannt sind, annehmen, daß in diesem bevölkerten Weltteile ich einer halben Million Menschen Vergnügen gemacht habe. Wenn nun jeder dieser Menschen einen einzigen Groschen in omni et toto mir, oder besser zu sagen, meiner Familie – denn mir nützt es nicht mehr – zuwürfe, welch eine geringe Beisteuer für den Geber, und welch eine beträchtliche Unterstützung für eine hinterlassene, trostlose Familie eines Mannes, der, wie jener im Evangelium, sein Talent nicht vergraben hat!”

Johann Joachim Quantz
Period: Baroque
Born: Wednesday, January 30, 1697 in Obersheden, Germany
Died: Monday, July 12, 1773 in Potsdam, Germany

General Bibliography: Baker, Theodore and Slonimsky, Nicolas, Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Simon & Schuster, March 1992, ISBN: 0028724151
Bukofzer, Manfred F., Music in the Baroque Era, from Monteverdi to Bach, W.W. Norton & Company, November 1947, ISBN: 0393097455
Kennedy, Michael, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, 1997, ISBN: 0198691629
Palisca, Claude V. Baroque Music, Prentice Hall, December 1990, ISBN: 0130584967
Sadie, Stanley; Editor, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, St Martins Press, September 1995, ISBN: 1561591742
Dr. Estrella’s Incredibly Abridged Dictionary of Composers

Johann Joachim Quantz (1697 - 1773) – short bio with midi file. The Italian website includes a giant mp3 and midi–archive of classical music.

“Johann Joachim Quantz (Jan. 30 1697-July 12 1773) is a major figure in the world of the flute. He is less well-known than he ought to be, though, since the vast majority of his works remain unpublished. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that his many sonatas and concertos (several hundred of each survive) were written for a jealous monarch, who did not care to see the works he had paid for distributed to a wider public. Of Quantz’s works only six sonatas with continuuo (published in 1734, after Quantz had begun to teach Frederick the Great, but before he had taken an official position at court) and six duets (published 1759) appeared in print with Quantz’s permission.”
by Tom Moore,

Johann Joachim Quantz and Frederick the Great – What could we have done without them? Essay and bibliography.

Compositions by this composer played in the last 30 days on WQXR, The Classical Station of the New York Times you can listen to online (96.3).


As usual when getting into it Pynchon makes us aware of a great artist we may not have encountered yet. There’s a lot of material on the web that shows us the remaining fragments of her poetry and tells about her, as usual, controversial life:

“Someone in Another Time will Remember Us.”
“Sappho was born in the late 700s BCE on Lesbos, one of the larger islands in the Aegean, near Lydia (now Turkey). Lesbos was important for trade between mainland Greece and the kingdoms of Asia; it was also a cultural center. Sappho was probably from an aristocratic family of the city of Mytiline; she probably married and had at least one daughter. She may have spent some time on exile in Sicily.

Her poetry suggests that she was the center of a closely-knit group of women; we don’t know if this was some kind of an academy or a chorus of singers. We do know that Sappho composed epithalmia (marriage songs) for performance by a group. But her preferred form seems to have been songs to be sung or recited by an individual to the accompaniment of a lyre, some perhaps for religious or civic festivals.

Over 200 fragments of Sappho’s poetry are extant, but many of these are only a few words long. One poem, usually called the “Hymn to Aphrodite” (see online), may be complete, but we aren’t sure. But even from fragments we can tell that Sappho had the ability to look at herself and others clearly—often ironically—and the ability to make us hear her voice.”
Sappho (c.600 BCE)

The Poems of Sappho
Translated by Edwin Marion Cox [1925], Transliterated by J.B. Hare [2000]
System of Greek Transliteration
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Index of First Lines
With an introduction by J.B Hare:

“Sappho’s books were burned by Christians in the year 380 A.D. at the instigation of Pope Gregory Nazianzen. Another book burning in the year 1073 A.D. by Pope Gregory VII may have wiped out any remaining trace of her works. It should be remembered that in antiquity books were copied by hand and comparatively rare. There may have only been a few copies of her complete works. The bonfires of the Church destroyed many things, but among the most tragic of their victims were the poems of Sappho.
The reason that the Church wanted Sappho’s works eradicated is not certain, but it probably had something to do with the subject matter of her poems. From the surviving fragments, we know Sappho wrote splendid hymns in praise of the Pagan Goddesses, particularly Aphrodite, and love poetry of great sophistication, passion and deep understanding of the human heart. This at least is apparent even from the few fragments we have. Such subjects were anathema to the bigots of the Dark Ages.
The matter of her sexual orientation did not become controversial until much later, during the nineteenth and twentieth century. It was not an issue for her contemporaries; it was not even an issue in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, when her poetry started to emerge from obscurity.
It should be emphasised that we have few clues about her sexual orientation. Moreover, we are still unclear what same-sex romantic or erotic love between women may have implied in Sappho’s culture. What we do know is that there was not widespread fear and persecution of homosexuals in antiquity. Even during the middle ages, same-sex unions occurred and were not disapproved of by the Church. This is not why Sappho’s poems were burned. If anything, it was her (possibly exaggerated) reputation for promiscuity which brought her reproach in the early Christian era.”
The Poems of Sappho

Fragments and Links

- bringst alles heim, was der strahlende Morgen zerstreute
- bringst das Schaf, bringst die Ziege
- bringst zurück zur Mutter die Tochter.”
Der Venusdurchgang vom 6. Juni 1761
Fr. 95
Evening, thou that bringest all that bright morning scattered; thou bringest the sheep, the goat, the child back to her mother. H. T. Wharton Thus imitated by Byron:-- O Hesperus, thou bringest all good things-- Home to the weary, to the hungry cheer, To the young bird the parent's brooding wings, The welcome stall to the o'erlaboured steer; Whate'er of peace about our hearthstone clings, Whate'er our household gods protect of dear, Are gathered round us by thy look of rest; Thou bring'st the child too to its mother's breast. Byron's Don Juan, iii. 107. And by Tennyson:-- The ancient poetess singeth, that Hesperus all things bringeth, Smoothing the wearied mind: bring me my love, Rosalind. Thou comest morning or even; she cometh not morning or evening. False-eyed Hesper, unkind, where is my sweet Rosalind? Leonine Elegiacs, 1830-1884. Hesperus brings all things back Which the daylight made us lack, Brings the sheep and goats to rest, Brings the baby to the breast. Edwin Arnold, 1869 Hesper, thou bringest back again All that the gaudy daybeams part, The sheep, the goat, back to their pen, The child home to his mother's heart. Frederick Tennyson, 1890. Evening, all things thou bringest Which dawn spread apart from each other; The lamb and the kid thou bringest, Thou bringest the boy to his mother. J. A. Symonds, 1883. Hesper, whom the poet call'd the Bringer home of all good things. Tennyson, Locksley Hall Sixty Years After, 1886 from: -- mega site Some biography Who was Sappho Some poems Sappho reading -- a picture

Mason & Dixon Index
Der Venusdurchgang vom 6. Juni 1761
Auszüge aus Thomas Pynchons Roman “Mason & Dixon”
Mason & Dixon Weblinks (Essays and Reviews)

Otto’s Pynchon Pages
Otto’s Homepage


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