The Jew of Malta

Cultural references

T. S. Eliot's poem "Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service" contains an epigraph which is an excerpt from The Jew of Malta:

"Look, look, master, here comes two religious caterpillars."

Another of Eliot's poems, "The Portrait of a Lady" also has an excerpt from The Jew of Malta:

"Thou hast committed/ Fornication: but that was in another country,/ And besides, the wench is dead."

It is an often quoted line, also appearing in Nicholas Monsarrat's 1951 novel, The Cruel Sea, where it is used to underscore the blunt tragedies of war- the novel cuts off a side story of a romance, and the protagonist quotes the line, bitterly, as the main storyline resumes.

The same line is quoted by P.D. James in the first of her Adam Dalgleish mystery novels, Cover Her Face, and indirectly in more than one of her later novels, including The Lighthouse and Innocent Blood. Margaret Maron also quotes it in "Designated Daughters."

It is also quoted in Ernest Hemingway's 1950 novel Across the River and into the Trees, as well as referred to in his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises. In the earlier text it is by the character Bill Gorton, who has a tendency to make obscure literary references in everyday speech. The narrator, Jake Barnes, introduces Bill as "a taxidermist" and he replies:

"'That was in another country,' Bill said. 'And besides all the animals were dead.'"

"In Another Country" is one of Hemingway's Nick Adams stories.

Terry Pratchett paraphrases the quote in Lords and Ladies with reference to Granny Weatherwax's girlhood: "But that was a long time ago, in the past (which is another country). And besides, the bitch is . . . older."

An episode of 1970s BBC TV series Wings (series 2, episode 3) is entitled "Another Country" ends with the line "But that was in another country. And besides, the wench is dead."

"But that was in another country, and besides, the wench is dead" is also spoken in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, Book 2, The Doll's House, Part 6, "Into the Night," by the character Gilbert to Dream's servant Matthew. They are talking about their lives in earlier incarnations.


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