“Racial memories” Refers to then-current psychological theories: such memories are elements of the collective unconscious through which we instinctively “know” the ancient past.
In a 1922 lecture, “On the Relation of Analytical Psychology in Poetry,” Carl Jung defines the collective unconscious as “a sphere of unconscious mythology whose primordial images are the inheritance of all mankind . . . . a potentiality handed down to us from primordial times in the specific form of mnemonic images or inherited in the anatomical structure of the brain” (Jung 80). There are no inborn ideas, but there are inborn possibilities of ideas . . . . a priori ideas, as it were, the existence of which cannot be ascertained except from their effects” (80-81). In 1932 essay on Pablo Picasso, Jung praised the artist’s abilities to evoke “memories of the blood” that, if recalled, might “restor[e] the whole man” (140). It is arguable whether Nightwood’s evocations of “blood” or “racial” memories” offer any restorative effect.
The Prater Vienna’s grand park, the Prater, is located in the city zone known as Leopoldstadt, which made up a large part of the ghetto in the seventeenth century. In the 1920s, Jewish writer Joseph Roth wrote that the Leopoldstadt, the home of “immigrant Jewry,” acted as “a sort of voluntary ghetto” (Roth 55).
“the exquisite handkerchief of yellow and black linen” The handkerchiefs represent the “Jew badge,” a medieval method of differentiating between Christians and Jews, which the Nazis appropriated and mandated in 1939. The primary motivation of this edict lay in the prevention of accidental sexual relationships between “Jews and Saracens” and Christians (Kisch 111).
Pietro Barbo A Venetian elected Pope in 1464. He took the name of Paul II.
“The ordinance of 1468″ Pietro Barbo instigated the races as an element of the winter festival of Saturnalia in 1466 (Kertzer 74). Plumb notes the discrepancy in Barnes’s dating of the event in 1468, and suggests that the 1466 races “appear to be the ordinance that Barnes refers to, though the dates are not exact” (Plumb 212). Hanrahan further questions how Barnes arrived at 1468 and claims that “No explanation has ever been proposed for the enigmatic date of the ordinance, which corresponds to no recognizable historical referent” (36). Please see the longer entry here for a more detailed discussion and sourcing of Barnes’s reference.
“Piazza Montanara” Area of Rome, “on the very confines of the Ghetto” (Story 409). The location of an open market attended by the peasantry.
“Roba vecchia!” “Old things,” presumably, items for sale at the Pizza Montanara market.