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                          The Annotated Sandman

                Edited by Ralf Hildebrandt and largely written by Greg Morrow

                     Issue 13:  "Men of Good Fortune"
          Neil Gaiman, Michael Zulli, and [Steve?] Parkhouse

      Fourth part of long storyline _The Doll's House_ (but see below)
        Sixth story reprinted in trade paperback _The Doll's House_

General:  This story is unusual, in that it bears the onus of being "The Doll's
House part 4", but has no direct relationship to the larger story, being a
side trip into the past.
Neil Gaiman visited Perth in April 1996, and said there was a major anachronism 
in "Men of Good Fortune" which no-one had ever called him for (up until then, 
at least). Now it looks like there are several: Ahasueres, the medieval French, 
"John Ball has rungen your bell", Henry VI part I as Shakepeare's first play. 
I wonder which one Gaiman had in mind, if any of those?

Elizabeth Rowe says:

I would argue that "Men of Good Fortune" has a thematic
relevance to the first two long stories of Dream. You could almost say
that it bridges the two. The end of the first long story depicts Dream
as depressed over the outcome of his escape, revenge, and quest to
regain his tools. Although Endless, he's evidently vulnerable to at
least some human emotions. Even though Death consoles him by reminding
him of his responsibilities and making him think about the relationship
of sleep and death to each other and their meaning to humanity, the next
long story begins with another vulnerable Dream, one who is susceptible
to love. This is evidently not allowed by the nature of things (at least
as far as the African tale-tellers believe). However, a deviation from
the natural order that _is_ allowed and that serves a similar emotional
purpose is recounted in "Men of Good Fortune". As Hob finally realizes
(and Dream finally admits), he is granted a reprieve from death because
Dream needs a friend. 

"Men of Good Fortune" can also be argued to have a structural
relationship with the second long thread, in that the two have
constrasts that seem to me to be significant. The relationship with Nada
(love) was destructive (at least for Nada!) and suspect, as it was
apparently engineered for malicious reasons by Desire (and Despair?).
The relationship with Hob (friendship) is positive (for both parties)
and  trustworthy, as it was set up by Dream (and presumably Death, who
was there at the time). A further contrast is found between Hob's fate
and what happens to Lyta, Rose, and Unity; one imagines that the latter
is more typical of Dream's relationships with humans--it is impersonal
and dictated by the requirements of Dreaming. 

Page 1 panel 1:  The year, as we can deduce from page 5 panel 4, is 1389.
Note the background chatter prominently placed throughout the story.  The theme
of each snippet is repeated at least once, across a time frame of many
centuries.  This supports the contention that the theme of the story is uttered
by Hob on page 23.
        Note that a poll tax, in England, is a flat tax assessed on an
individual basis.  In the USA, a poll tax is a tax to be paid in order to vote,
and has been declared unconstitutional.
        John Ball and Wat Tyler were leaders of the Peasant's Revolt in 1381.
They were captured and killed by the authorities (the aristocracy); the
rebellion only lasted a week or so as an organized force. John Ball is at least
one source for the quote "When Adam dug and Eve span, who was then a
        The two Popes are Urban VI and Clement VII.  Pope Gregory XI moved the
papacy from Avignon back to Rome in 1377. Then he died, and a mob of people
gathered outside the Vatican and insisted that the next pope be Italian; Urban
VI was chosen.  Several French cardinals, after leaving Rome, got together and
elected their own pope, Clement VII, who based himself in Avignon.  The split
in the church lasted until 1417.
	Panel 2:  These are Dream and Death, in what I take to be period
costumes of people of somewhat higher social class than the patrons of panel 1.
	Panel 3:  First known appearance of Hob (Robert) Gadling, who appears
throughout this issue as well as later in the series.  The Black Death was the
name of an outbreak of bubonic plague which killed one third the population of
Europe at its greatest extent.  "Buckingham" apparently refers to Thomas of
Gloucester, earl (or duke) of Buckingham, son of Edward III and uncle to the
king, Richard II.  Thomas sought to dominate Richard II, and had the upper hand
at this time, but lost power in 1390.  I still have yet to identify a specific
campaign of Gloucester in Burgundy, which is a province in France.
	The Hundred Year's War was at an ebb during Richard II's reign, so the
Burgundy campaign may have been part of the struggle between Burgundy and
Orleans for control of the French throne, at that time held by Charles VI, "The
Mad".  Perhaps Buckingham led an English unit allied with one or the other
Thomas of Woodstock, Earl of Buckingham led a chevauchée through
northern, central, and coastal France in the summer of 1380. In fact,
the second of the three poll taxes mentioned was levied to pay for
this campaign. I cite the *Encyclopedia of the Hundred Years War* by
John A. Wagner. (added by Justin)

        Page 2 panel 2:  One of these is Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of
_Canterbury Tales_.  Chaucer lived from c. 1340-1400.  He is evidently writing
_The Canterbury Tales_ at this time; historical sources say that it was written
soon after 1387.  The other, from panel 3, is named "Edmund", but is not Edmund
Spenser, author of _The Faerie Queene_, who was  born in c.1552.  He may be the
writer of _Piers Plowman_, which is generally considered to be the work of
William Langland.  At least one version of the full name of the work is _The
Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman, together with Vita de Do-wel,
Do-bet, et Do-best, secundum Wit et Resoun_. _Plowman_ was published in three
editions in the fourteenth century, the first in 1362, the second in 1378, and
the third (after this scene) in 1398.  _Plowman_ is a tale to instruct the
reader in morals.  At least one Edmund of this period was another of Richard
II's uncles, the Duke of York, although he is not likely to be in a working
class tavern.
        "Langue des travaillistes" is "language of the socialists".  Here we
should probably assume that Gaiman meant "travailleurs", which means "workers".
English is the language Edmund means, since the English were the lower classes
under the French-speaking Norman upper classes. "La belle francais" is "the
beautiful French."  "Filthy tales..." is an accurate description of _The
Canterbury Tales_.

"Travailliste" doesn't really mean socialist; it refers to the British
Labour Party, or a member thereof. A better contextual translation
would be "labourer," which makes perfect sense (although the modern
French is still anachronistic). (noted by Justin)

        As I just happen to have a friend who knows medieval French (and boy,
are the corporations knocking on her door with job offers for that skill!), I
asked her to correct "Edmund's" modern French into fourteenth century
Anglo-Norman.  Recall that spelling had not been formalized yet.  "Travailleurs"
would go to "traveillieur" or "travilleur". "Francais" would probably go to
something like "fraunces".
	Panel 3:  The first background chatter I associate with Geoffrey;
the second is a recurring punchline to an obscene joke.  Does anyone know the
rest of the joke?

Hunting for hare (rabbit) was a Middle English double entendre for
pursuing illicit, often lecherous relationships. In the General
Prologue Geoffrey Chaucer describes the monk as "Of pricking and of
hunting for the hare/Was all his lust, for no cost would he spare"
(lines 191-2). I have always assumed that was the reference Gaiman was
making; Chaucer is known to have picked up much of his material in
taverns. (noted by Justin)

	Panel 4:  "Flux" refers to cholera, for which diarrhea is a symptom.

Page 3 panel 2:  We will come back to Dream's comment in a later issue.  It is
a fairly common theme in fantasy literature that elves, sprites, and the like
once inhabited this reality, but went to another reality as the weight of
humanity began to press on them.
        Panel 4:  The Wandering Jew is an old legend.  Ahasueres was a name for
him which may not have been used until 1602; another name for him is
Cartaphilus.  Ahasueres is also the name of the king of Persia in the Book of
Esther; he marries Esther, and is generally portrayed as a bumbling fool. The
Wandering Jew cursed Jesus (or refused to soothe him by giving him water in
another version) as he hung from the cross, and was told by him to "tarry
[here] until I come again"; that is, live on Earth until the foretold Second
Coming of the Lord. This legend was used as one possible origin of the Phantom
Stranger (a DC mystic character) in _Secret Origins_ #10.
	Panel 6:  "Swive," from context, means "have sex with".

Page 4 panel 7:  Death calls Dream "little brother".  In _Sandman_ #24,
in contrast, she calls him "big brother".  He is little, as he is younger; he
is big, as he is physically larger.  Geoffrey Chaucer was indeed an important
diplomat at King Richard's court.
        "Tu juges mal la nature humaine" translates as "you judge human nature
badly." "Tu juges mal" would remain much the same, but "la nature humaine" is
most likely incorrect, however, and is probably "humanite (accent grave)" or
possibly "la nature des homs" (hommes is spelled "omes," "umes," "humes,"
"homes," "homs," "ums," "hons," "hums," "ommes," "honmes," "huems," "ouemes,"
and rarely "hommes.")
        Panel 8:  A spittard is a young deer.  This is the same John Ball as
referenced above; the quote may be from "The Dream of John Ball", by William
Morris, although its appearance here would be anachronistic.  It would appear
that restrictions on Saxon hunting rights were being put into place by the
Norman aristocracy; this was a sore spot for many years, as may be seen in the
story of Robin Hood.

Page 5 panel 4:  "King Dick" is presumably Richard II, the last Plantagenet
king, who ruled from 1377-1399.  Evidently, he's fairly "thick", or stupid.
"Year of our Lord" is, of course, the English translation of the Latin Anno
Domini, or A.D.

Page 6 panel 1:  Jump ahead to 1489.  This is Hob again.
	Panel 2:  Hob is talking with Dream, whose skin is miscolored in this
panel in the original comic.

Page 7 panel 3:  Chimblies are chimneys, as Hob says.  Rheum is a cold or runny
nose.  Catarrh is much the same.
	Panel 4:  From reading _Hellblazer_, I interpret "brilliant" to mean,
roughly, "pleasing" or "excellent".  It seems quite modern for Hob to be saying
it in 1489.

Page 8 panel 2:  York and Lancaster are two noble houses who contended for the
throne of England in the War of the Roses.  Henry VII was the first Tudor king
of England, presumably named Richmond before he assumed the throne.
	Panel 4:  Gutenberg did invent typography and made movable type into an
industry in the 1400s.

Page 9 panel 1:  Jump ahead to 1589.
	Panel 3:  The man with the broken leg is Christopher "Kit" Marlowe, a
prominent dramaturge of the late 1500s.  His companion is none other than Wild
Man Will Shakespeare, himself.  The two are known to have been friends, and
Marlowe may have been the ``poet'' referred to in Shakespeare's sonnets, of
whom the playwright was jealous.  The play Will refers to here is, I believe,
Marlowe's play _Faustus_:

      Now, Faustus, must
      Thou needs be damn'd, and canst thou not be sav'd:
      What boots it then to think of God or Heaven?
      Away with such vain fancies, and despair:         5
      Despair in God, and trust in Belzebub.
      Now go not backward: no, Faustus, be resolute.
      Why waverest thou? O, something soundeth in mine ears
      "Abjure this magic, turn to God again!"
      Ay, and Faustus will turn to God again.         10
      To God?-He loves thee not-
      The God thou serv'st is thine own appetite,
      Wherein is fix'd the love of Belzebub;
      To him I'll build an altar and a church,
      And offer lukewarm blood of new-born babes.         15

(added by Jens Karnebjer, Sweden)

Note that Shakespeare speaks in iambic pentameter,
which is the form of his sonnets and long sections of his plays.  An iamb is a
foot with one short or unstressed syllable followed by one long or stressed
syllable.  Pentameter simply requires five iambs in a line.  In reading or
speaking iambically, the stresses are not overemphasized as one might naively

Page 10 panel 1:  This is Hob again.
	Panel 4:  A venison pasty is a pastry shell filled with deer meat.  It
is correctly pronounced with a short 'a'.
	Panel 5:  William Caxton was the first English printer.  He died in
1491, but Hob is referring to events of 1489.  Henry Tudor, here, is probably
Henry VIII, the most famous Tudor king.
	Panel 6:  Hob is describing a method of escaping detection as an
immortal.  It is a commonly-used method in science fiction.
	Panel 7:  "Fat Henry" is undoubtedly Henry VIII, who established the
Church of England, and confiscated the Roman Catholic monasteries.

Page 11 panel 1:  The longer lived a species is, the less fertile it is.
Perhaps the same holds true for individuals such as Hob.
	Panel 4:  It would appear that Marlowe was homosexual and Shakespeare
quite heterosexual.  I cannot directly confirm this.  Shakespeare's orientation
is a subject of much debate; several of his sonnets appear to be directed to a
young boy.  "Buss" means "kiss".  At this point in time, female roles in the
theater were played by boys or young men.  "Horned" may refer to a
crescent-shaped portion of anatomy that modern actresses don't have.
	Panel 5:  Shakespeare was an actor most of his career.
        Panel 6:  (Comets were thought to portend doom; the "crystal tresses" are the
"tail" of the comet, here compared to the straps of a scourge.)   Quoted are
the opening lines to _The First Part of King Henry the Sixth_, which were in
actuality probably penned by Elizabethan pamphleteer Thomas Nashe, one of
Shakespeare's two likely collaborators on the play (and another good friend of
Kit Marlowe).   _Henry VI Part I_ is generally NOT believed to be
Shakespeare's first play - the rather ludicrous Titus Andronicus is.  The
well-known badness of parts of Titus will have suggested this Shakespeare-
makes-a-deal plotline to Gaiman, just as it will have made the plotline more
credible to readers who assume that the excerpt is from Titus: but it's
telling either of Shakespeare's skill or of our aesthetic passivity that, to
find text on which we could venture an negative opinion, Gaiman had to go
(rather shamelessly) to a later play and (quite unwittingly) to another writer
(who's by the way quite good when in his own element.)

Page 12 panel 1-2:  Presumably the quote from the play _Faustus_ is accurate.
We may note that Beelzebub is a name of the devil, or the name of a major demon.
	Panel 5:  "Bent" may perhaps have meant "homosexual" in 1589; it
certainly meant this in Nazi Germany (as may be seen in occasional issues of
_The Desert Peach_  ).  We get "straight" for heterosexuals in
analogy.  Nowadays, "bent" is often used to mean "crooked", although it can
still refer to homosexuals.

Page 13 panel 1:  Shakespeare did not spell his name the same way twice.
	Panel 6:  Beware hubris, Hob.  Also, "foreshadowing:  your guide to
quality literature", to quote "Bloom County".

Page 14 panel 1:  Jump ahead to 1689.  Note the background chatter.
	Panel 3:  This translates, roughly, as "You fucking shitheads!  Get out
of my way!"
Page 15 panel 1:  This is Hob, considerably reduced by circumstance.

Page 16 panel 1:  Oliver Cromwell, and Parliament, took over England for a
while during the 1600s.  The monarchy was eventually restored.  Hob picked the
losing side.

Page 17 panel 1:  Jump ahead to 1789.  Hob is speaking, off-panel, describing
one form of the "triangle trade" that was being run at this time.
	Panel 2:  First known appearance of the woman, Lady Johanna
Constantine.  She appears later in the series.  She is, by implication, of the
same line as John Constantine, and is, like him, a callous manipulator, and in
touch with the odder side of life.
	Panel 4-5:  The French Revolution has begun in 1789, following the
successful revolt of most of the British colonies in America six years earlier.
"Odd's life" means "God's life"; the alteration was to avoid taking God's name
in vain.

Page 18 panel 1:  _King Lear_ is one of Shakespeare's plays, Goneril one of
Lear's daughters.  Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) was a famous English actress.
About this time a director/scholar did convert _Lear_ into a comedy to promote
his own ideas of morality.  As Dream "predicts", the modification did not last
more than a few decades.
        I take "Great Stories" to mean a class of tales fundamental to human
nature (including, no doubt, "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl
again" and the mixed-up twins farce).

Page 19 panel 4:  We have not yet met Jack Constantine.  He is the
fourth known true Constantine, the others being Kon-stan-teyn, the founder of
the line, seen in _Hellblazer_ Annual #1; Lady Johanna, seen here and in a
later issue; and John himself, seen every month in _Hellblazer_, in _Sandman_
#3, and irregularly in  _Swamp Thing_.  I exclude John's father, sister, and
niece, as they do not follow the Constantine pattern of nasty lives ending in
nasty deaths.  Recently, another Constantine, a pirate, has appeared in _Swamp
Thing_; this one is much nastier and lacks the subtlety of the true
Constantines, as well as their orientation toward the occult.
	Panel 6:  We have seen Dream pull this trick before, in _Sandman_ #1.

Page 20 panel 4:  Dream's is a description much more eloquent than mine of the
Constantine pattern.
	Panel 5:  Nightwalkers are probably vampires, but may be some other
sort of undead.
	Panel 6:  Queen Bess is Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603).

Page 21 panel 1:  Jump to 1889.
	Panel 2:  "Bloody Jack" is Jack the Ripper, of course.  The Ripper
killed five prostitutes in London in 1888 and was never caught.  The Alan
Moore-Eddy Campbell  series _From Hell_ is a look at the historical
legend in comic book form.  _Gotham by Gaslight_ features the Batman versus the
	Panel 4:  Lovely slang here.  I couldn't even begin to contemplate what
a "chickaleary" is.
	Panel 5:  Who can identify the song?...Anyone?...Anyone?

Lushing Lou is a (presumably) real historical figure, as seen in Henry
Mayhew's *London Labour and the London Poor, Volume IV* (1861), in
which Gaiman's character is perfectly described, down to a penchant
for a drain of pale (brandy) and her choice in
songs. (here  is the relevant
excerpt). (noted by Justin)

Page 22 panel 2:  The "pox" is probably syphilis, here.
	Panel 4:  Lady Johanna's mission for Dream is chronicled later in the
series.  Blood is Jason Blood, the human host of the Demon, Etrigan.  See
_Sandman_ #4.  At this time, Blood is amnesiac, unaware of either Etrigan or
his own immortality.
	Panel 5:  We saw Mad Hettie in _Sandman_ #3.  She has also appeared in
a John Constantine sequence in _Swamp Thing_.

Page 23 panel 2:  Aha!  The theme to the entire issue!

Page 24 panel 1:  Jump to 1989.  Every bit of background chatter that's gone
before appears again, even down to the dirty joke!
	Panel 4:  Note that before, Dream always wore formal attire, but here
is wearing quite casual clothing.  This perhaps represents a personality change
as a consequence of his imprisonment.  Alternately, what was formerly a formal
situation has become a casual meeting between friends, or the clothing of the
upper class has gone from formal to casual and Dream is merely

Contributors include:
	Tom White (twhite@mozart.AMD.COM) gave the year of the Ripper murders
(and misremembered the final date of the American Revolution!).
	Ian Lance Taylor (ian@airs.com) identified Ball and Tyler,
elucidated the conundrum of the two Popes, wrote about some of the French
politics of 1389, and discussed English hunting rights.
	He also researched _The Canterbury Tales_ and _Piers Plowman_, and
tried to find "Edmund".  With Connie Hirsch (fuzzy@athena.mit.edu) and Jeffrey
Porten (porten@eniac.seas.upenn.edu), he identified flux.  With Jeffrey and
Viktor Haag , he investigated the Wandering Jew.
	Michele Koch (private communication) undertook to translate "Edmund"
into accurate fourteenth century Anglo-Norman.
	Alex (Chaffee?) (chaffee@reed.edu) spotted Shakespeare's poetry.  Ian
and Alex explicated the torture _King Lear_ underwent.
	Tom Galloway (tyg@caen.engin.umich.edu) added some historical
information about "actresses" and Robert Kelly (rkelly@triton.unm.edu) chimed
in with a typically sleazy remark :-)
	Ian and Tom G. identified and interpreted the play that Marlowe so
disliked.  Tom G. also revealed a penchant for demonology and the undead and
noted the French Revolution and Good Queen Bess.
	Jeffrey had more to say, this time about the etymology of "bent", and
Dream's choice of clothing.  William Sherman  and
Mike 'The One and Only' Killans (mcollins@isis.cs.du.edu) confirmed the current
use of 'bent'.  William also added bits about "odd's life" and Shakespeare's
sexual preference.  Mike spotted another relative of Constantine's.
        Joel Tscherne (ac985@cleveland.Freenet.Edu) corrected some of my panel
        Michael Bowman  added some information
on `bent'.
	Mark MacBear  identifying Marlowe's role in
Shakespeare's sonnets (I think that who said it and who he meant, I lost most
of the reference.)
	Dave Stobbe, who signs himself "Ed (the Anti-Dave)",
 corrected my attribution of movable type to Gutenberg.

© by Ralf Hildebrandt
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This file was last modified 09. Dec 2011 by root