The Wandering Jew

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Life’s Handicap, as published and frequently reprinted between 1891 and 1950.

[Title] the legend of Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew, is usually ascribed to Matthew of Paris who claimed to have heard it from an Armenian bishop in 1228. One version concerns a man who refused to allow Jesus to rest at his door when He was carrying the Cross. Jesus said: “I will go indeed, but tarry thou until I come again.’ (Brewer)

[Page 313, lines 1-2] If you go once round the world in an easterly direction, you gain one day This is, of course, not so. Only the date on the calendar changes as one crosses the International Date Line, a modification of the 180th meridian of Longitude drawn to ensure that islands of any one group remain on the same side of the line.

Crossing this line in a westerly direction loses a day, again only a “paper” transaction, like that one misunderstood by ignorant people in 1752 when the Julian calendar was replaced by the Gregorian, and the days between September 2nd and 14th were omitted, giving rise to the cry “Give us back our eleven days !”

[Page 313, line 18] bats in this context, nocturnal flying mammals, order Chiroptera, of which there are about one thousand species.

[Page 314, lines 6-11] sovereigns gold coins, worth £1 each, accepted the world over and always likely to increase in value.

[Page 315, line 14] eighty days Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) by the French novelist Jules Verne (1828-1905).

[Page 315, line 19] Euphrates Valley Railway under consideration since the 1870s but we have been unable to ascertain when the first section was opened.

[Page 316, line 19] Brahmaputra Valley line does not seem to have operated until about 1900.

[Page 316, line 20] China Midland we have been unable to trace a line of this name in China’s vast railway system. [Information would be appreciated; Ed.]

[Page 317, lines 11-12] hang by ropes … earth swing free this is, of course, a fallacy.

[Page 317, lines 22-24] a sheet of thin steel etc equally a fallacy.

[Page 318, lines 5-6] Why does not the sun remain over my head ? he retains some flashes of sanity.

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2006 All rights reserved