Questions citing excerpts from works of literature.

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3
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1answer
52 views

What is an “aglet-baby” exactly?

This is a line from the Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare Grumio [to Hortensio]: Marry him to a puppet or an aglet-baby . . . Although 'aglet' is an extremely uncommon word, its meaning can ...
1
vote
1answer
49 views

Was James Joyce confused about “prone” and “supine” or am I?

I've been re-reading "Ulysses" and noticed this Stephen totters, collapses, falls, stunned. He lies prone, his face to the sky (emphasis mine) and Stephen, prone, breathes to the stars. ...
1
vote
2answers
79 views

What do you call an abrupt, abstract ending to a sentence?

While reading the poem Pike by Ted Hughes, I came across this line: The gills kneading quietly, and the pectorals. As you can see, the line ends quite abruptly. How would one term this literary ...
-5
votes
1answer
42 views

Where in Romeo and Juliet is Count Paris' relation to Prince Escalus stated? [closed]

The Wikipedia page for Count Paris, in addition to some other sources, states that he is related to Prince Escalus. I have searched the text, but all I can find is mention that he is a "nobleman" and ...
0
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1answer
40 views

Meaning of “drawn by hunger and pride” when describing a face

When Rayber had first opened the door in the middle of the night and had seen Tarwater's face - white, drawn by some unfathomable hunger and pride - he had remained for an instant frozen before ...
0
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1answer
58 views

How to pronounce Alois in A Dog of Flanders? [closed]

The e-book I have downloaded from Amazon has Alois, but Wikipedia seems to have Aloise. I do not know which one is correct in the first place. I shall assume Alois is the correct one. A Dog of ...
2
votes
1answer
56 views

What is a “gilded shell” in Eliot's Wasteland? [closed]

A gilded shell Red and gold The brisk swell Rippled both shores What is a "gilded shell" here? Some kind of boat?
0
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1answer
94 views

What is the objection of Siddhartha here? [closed]

I am reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and I am not able to understand this passage But according to your very own teachings, this unity and necessary sequence of all things is ...
2
votes
1answer
141 views

Are there any famous English poems that every British-raised or American-raised person knows? [closed]

In the Chinese language, there is a poem named Quiet Night Thoughts(Jing Ye Si) by Li Bai, which is known by everyone that is native to China (from little kids to very old people, even if they are ...
0
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2answers
43 views

Metaphoric language

From "The Merchant of Venice", Act IV: The quality of mercy is not strain'd, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven can we consider the above a metaphor?
-3
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1answer
53 views

Difference between views of destiny [closed]

In APJ Abdul Kalam's book it was written - Whenever human beings find themselves alone, as a natural reaction, they start looking for company. Whenever they are in trouble, they look for someone ...
2
votes
1answer
69 views

Meaning of “barrer” (noun) in W. Henley's poem “'Liza”

I don't understand the meaning in which the count noun word "barrer" is used in William Henley's poem 'Liza (the italics are the author's): ’Liza’s old man’s perhaps a little shady, ’Liza’s old ...
0
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2answers
114 views

Interpretation of “Thou art more lovely and more temperate”

In sonnet 18, line two Thou art more lovely and more temperate What does the word temperate imply? I googled it up and found that it means less extreme., if so then why compare temperateness ...
1
vote
1answer
86 views

What is the meaning of the (seemingly) noun word “claw-catch” in a poem?

From "God's Secretary" by R.S. Gwynn: Her e-mail inbox always overflows. Her outbox doesn’t get much use at all. She puts on hold the umpteen-billionth call As music oozes forth to placate ...
5
votes
1answer
193 views

Literature: 'Why' at the beginning of sentences [duplicate]

I’m currently reading George Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire novels in English. As a non-native speaker (I’m German), I stumbled upon some grammatical constructs that I’ve never seen before, one of ...
17
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3answers
3k views

What is the meaning of “A.C. or D.C.?”

In Heinlein's A stranger in a strange land, there is a moment when nurse Jill kisses Martian man named Mike and another man, Jubal, puts a comment on it. It comes as follows: “Son,” he said, “you ...
25
votes
6answers
3k views

What great writers have used coordinating conjunctions at the start of sentences?

I had a discussion today with a friend over the validity of using (coordinating, correlative) conjunctions like but or and at the start of sentences. His position was that it breaks a rule of ...
0
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3answers
277 views

What is the meaning of “a trouvaille, mon cher”? [closed]

I was reading A Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde and came across this line. Can someone explain it to me? "An amazing model?' shouted Jain at the top of his voice; 'I should think so! Such ...
1
vote
1answer
164 views

What does this passage from “Great Expectations” mean?

I was reading Great Expectations the other day, and came across this passage that I couldn't make any sense of whatsoever: Why should I loiter on my road to compare the state of mind in which I ...
1
vote
1answer
75 views

What does “child of reflection” mean?

From Venus in Furs of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (full text): And yet a restless, always unsatisfied craving for the nudity of paganism," she interrupted, "but that love, which is the highest ...
1
vote
1answer
189 views

History of usage of singular “they” (gender-neutral) [duplicate]

I have just read in Emma by Jane Austen a phrase which surprised me: I can think of but one thing - Who is in love with her? Who makes you their confidant? (Jane Austen: Emma, Chapter VIII, ...
0
votes
2answers
67 views

Rising out of its own momentum

The bellow rose and fell, then it blared out one last time, rising out of its own momentum as if it were escaping finally, after centuries of waiting, into silence. The beady night noises closed in ...
4
votes
1answer
327 views

What is the proper pronunciation for Kipling's character-name “Mowgli”?

Does the first syllable rhyme with “glow” or with “how”? It is no use appealing to the Hindi for “Little Frog” or anything else, since Kipling confessed to making ...
1
vote
1answer
64 views

“There was Minta, wreathed, tinted, garish on the stairs…”

This is part of a sentence in Woolf's To the lighthouse. Minta is in a different state of mind from her husband, she's back at 3am after a party while he went to bed early and sternly: There was ...
0
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2answers
105 views

to give someone until

I'm reading Women by Charles Bukowski and stumbled upon the following dialog: Dee Dee was standing next to me. "Please tell her," she said, "to give me until September." "Forget her," Lydia ...
0
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1answer
74 views

Ophthalmic usage in Great Expectations [closed]

In chapter 10 of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, it says: Yet I do not call to mind that I was ever in my earlier youth the subject of remark in our social family circle, but some ...
3
votes
3answers
259 views

Dickens: meaning of “preserves” in “preserves of loaves and fishes”

What is the meaning of preserves in the opening passage of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities? There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there ...
3
votes
2answers
131 views

Does hunx have an origin?

I was reading Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now. A character calls an old man, "an old hunx" during an argument. I was wondering if Trollope was writing in an accent or if hunx was an old slang ...
2
votes
3answers
603 views

Meaning of “garn” in My Fair Lady

At the beginning of the My Fair Lady movie, there is a monologue of prof. Higgins like this: Hear a Yorkshireman, or worse Hear a Cornishman converse I'd rather hear a choir singing flat Chickens ...
0
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2answers
76 views

Can “lackadaisical” be used in literature?

Has lackadaisical ever been used in literary works? My Oxford Dictionary of Quotations has no quotation that includes this word. Who first used lackadaisical in the 1760s as the OED claims?
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2answers
218 views

What is Poetry? What does not count as Poetry? [closed]

Background: a google "define:poem" did not give me much closure: poem: a piece of writing in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by particular attention to diction ...
1
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3answers
437 views

Who really gave two figs?

The statement was in a poem whose name is " the White Troops Had Their Orders but the Negroes looked like Men". The context:... Who really gave two figs? Neither the earth nor heaven ever trembled... ...
0
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1answer
112 views

Determiners and Plurality in literature [duplicate]

Many times we come across examples like these :- Hobbits are an unobtrusive but very ancient people... For they are a little people, smaller than Dwarves... ~ From The Fellowship of the ...
2
votes
1answer
146 views

What does “passion-tearing” mean?

What does "passion-tearing" mean in the following context? My parents were at the summer theater singing a first matinee performance of "You Can't Take It With You". In summer stock productions ...
2
votes
1answer
122 views

What does 'turn things over his fingers' mean?

Below is the first paragraph of Salinger's "The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls". I wonder what to turn things over his fingers means in this context? I imagine the little boy juggling things, but I don't ...
0
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1answer
299 views

Is there a countable form for “literature”?

Literature is an uncountable noun, so we can't say one literature or two literatures. But is there a countable form, as there is for information? One piece of information, for instance.
1
vote
1answer
105 views

What does “disarm and waylay one's heart” mean?

In Salinger's "Paula" there is the following passage: "I so desperately want our baby born safely, darling. I’m afraid of falling. I’m afraid of a thousand things." Mrs. Hincher paused, suddenly ...
5
votes
2answers
302 views

Is a “blue bird” the same as a “bluebird”?

Is “blue bird” in the following quotation from Lady Chatterley’s Lover referring to an actual bluebird? The lush, dark green of hyacinths was a sea, with buds rising like pale corn, while in the ...
3
votes
1answer
61 views

What is a “Web tailer”?

Yet another question from Salinger's Ocean Full of Bowling Balls. Holden writes to his brother from a camp: Ask him if he ever read corinthans. Corinthans is in the bible and is very good and ...
5
votes
4answers
446 views

What is a “blue card” in this context?

I'm reading Salinger's "Ocean Full Of Bowling Balls" and came across the "blue card". I wonder what that means in that context. I found that "blue card" is currently used for immigrant agricultural ...
0
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3answers
874 views

Using “might as well have been” in analogies

I've seen this phrase in many literary works. Does it have the same purpose as like, as if, and as though (in the context of similes/metaphors)? For example: She might as well have been a skinny ...
0
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1answer
1k views

“It was then that…” vs “That was when…”

I'm not very sure if both mean exactly the same but I've noticed that the former is more widely use in Japanese novels translated into English. Whereas the latter is more often used in English novels ...
2
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2answers
198 views

What does this text from The Haunted House by Charles Dickens mean?

"Who is--or who was--the hooded woman with the owl? Do you know?" "Well!" said Ikey, holding up his cap with one hand while he scratched his head with the other, "they say, in general, that ...
0
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3answers
93 views

What does 'had been took with fits and held down in 'em' mean?

The following appears in The Haunted House by Charles Dickens. What is the meaning of the bolded phrase? This very concise summary of the facts was all I could learn, except that a young man, as ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Meaning of a mixed metaphor from “The Gift of The Magi”?

This is from The Gift of The Magi by O Henry (William Sydney Porter). Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. (part 4, paragraph 5 in the reference ...
0
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1answer
76 views

What does “breathing of the lighter elements” mean? [closed]

I'm reading Yelizaveta Bam of Daniil Kharms (tr. Neil Cornwell) and stumbled upon the following dialogue: Ivan I.: But who then lights the lamp? Pyotr N.: No one, it burns by itself. Ivan ...
0
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1answer
1k views

What does “meanest flower might blow” mean

A beautiful woman risking everything for a mad passion. A few wild weeks of happiness cut short by a hideous, treacherous crime. Months of voiceless agony, and then a child born in pain. The mother ...
4
votes
3answers
290 views

Can you explain the pun “erpigarms”

Here is an extract from a short story: When Pushkin broke his legs, he started to go about on wheels. His friends used to enjoy teasing Pushkin and grabbing him by his wheels. Pushkin took this ...
6
votes
4answers
795 views

What does the initial fragment of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy mean?

I begun reading Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This is one of the initial fragments, emphasis mine: This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of ...
0
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1answer
1k views

Why is Beowulf considered one of the most important works in the history of the English language? [closed]

Apologies if this is too subjective of a question. I'm currently studying Beowulf. I've seen it referred to as one of the, if not the first, most influential works of Anglo-Saxon literature. Some ...