Ariane played croquet with Sylvie, Thos, and Cat: "...ah, but she would never know them, they were elsewhere, sliding from themselves to other selves, three and many and one mind, teasing her with an uncomprehended joy. "Look! A falling star!" they cried. And she, her own cloud, had run after, never quite seeing what they saw, but ecstatic with the rumor of transcendence." This strikes me as having echoes of the Christian Trinity, but I'm reasonably sure that no real world religion has a strong presence in the book. On the other hand, it also wouldn't surprise me if Annis and Malykorne get invoked now and then by neo-pagans.
"....Ariane thought, O but I never heard her when she sang; it was like those falling stars, gone before I could say, how beautiful, beautiful in going." I'm going to assume this is a literal description of how Ariane experiences the world. Her memories are vivid, but her current sensory experience (possibly just for hearing and kinesthesia) is apt to be vague. This probably has something to do with her clumsiness, but she sees her clumsiness as a background fact, a personal defect that there's no point in thinking about. Of course, I might be projecting here-- let's see how sensory experience is portrayed for Ariane and for the other characters.
"In remembering Sylvie's voice, she heard it rise, travelling as if through years, like starlight from a long-cold, hanging stone." This took me a bit to figure out, since I don't normally think of dead stars as hanging stones. My first thought was that it had something to do with the lintels at a stone circle like Stonehenge, but clearly not.
Ariane remembers Sylvie singing: "Now open these windows, open and let me in: The rain rains on my good clothing..." [elipsis in the text] The lyric is from Lass of Loch Royal
, which was on Silly Sisters-- the album whose name is used for the section of the book.
"Ariane was silent, neither song nor shadow, but the glass in which they meet--O now the I is crystal". I assume the glass is a mirror rather than a drinking glass.
It's tempting for me to focus on Ariane's problems, but her nature also leads her to be able to do extraordinary things.
"What's this?" Ariane tweaked the wet bundle under Sylvie's arm. "Lord Gregory's kid?" From the "Lass of Loch Royal".
""I like the coat," said Sylvie. "Like a highwayman." "The woman they couldn't hang", said Ariane;" Presumably a reference to John Babbacombe Lee
, the man they couldn't hang. After the trapdoor on the gallows failed three times, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Fairport Convention made a rock opera about him, and at least some of the songs are available at youtube.
..."then wheeling, "Stand and deliver!" She snatched the loaf. "Ha! 'Tis Fitzgranary. The Scarlet Pumpernickel."
I have no idea whether Fitzgranary is a reference to anything in particular or is exuberant nonsense. The Scarlet Pumpernickel is a reference to The Scarlet Pimpernel
, and is a surprisingly memorable pun.
"The ash-witted antiquarian for whom Ariane had so long and so painstakingly collated folklore had died, in mid-fascicle, leaving no scheme or sense of her entanglements, that her presence had made scholarship as a spider makes its web. Not being formally ararchnid, Ariane was severed--snip--and so turned out, an unpapered alien." A fascicle is a bundle.
I'm not sure whether "made scholarship as a spider made its web" is sarcastic-- whether it was incoherent work which was declared scholarship, or whether the antiquarian inevitably made scholarship out of clutter.
In any case, the theme of abandonment echoes with "Lass of Loch Royale".
Also at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/994004.html