Questions citing excerpts from works of literature.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

1
vote
1answer
44 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 ...
-1
votes
0answers
42 views

Meaning of some parts of a poem

I have this poem Suburbs by Pablo Neruda and translated into English by William O' Daly. The poem goes as follows: I celebrate the virtues and vicesof suburban middle class peoplewho overwhelm the ...
4
votes
1answer
94 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
votes
3answers
2k 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
2k 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
votes
3answers
157 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
50 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
91 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
52 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
150 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
63 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
votes
2answers
89 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
votes
1answer
64 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
2answers
114 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
372 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
votes
2answers
64 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?
1
vote
2answers
156 views

What is Poetry? What does not count as Poetry? Help me get a grasp of it [closed]

Background: Yesterday afternoon I overheard two people chatting, I think one was reading or reciting a poem. It was quite emotional, and actually quite lovely. Later I saw several poems on TEDTalks ...
1
vote
3answers
305 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
votes
1answer
97 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
110 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
105 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
votes
1answer
218 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
94 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
258 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
56 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
404 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
votes
3answers
661 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
votes
1answer
676 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
924 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
votes
1answer
70 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
78 views

Etymological reference to the “Five woman in London” mentioned in The Picture of Dorian Gray [closed]

My dear Dorian, it is quite true. I am analysing women at present, so I ought to know. The subject is not so abstruse as I thought it was. I find that, ultimately, there are only two kinds of ...
0
votes
1answer
849 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
274 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
715 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
votes
1answer
974 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Meaning of “Where will wants not, a way opens”

I have been reading "The Lord of the Rings" and came across this phrase in the "The Return of the King". “Where will wants not, a way opens, so we say,” he whispered. “and so I have found myself.” ...
2
votes
1answer
488 views

Words at beginning of sentences with first letter displayed within brackets?

I've been reading The Deer Slayer, and I can't help but notice that some words at the beginning of sentences display their first letter within square brackets. Here are some examples: [W]hen five ...
4
votes
2answers
139 views

Can “But!” be a sentence?

From Dune by Frank Herbert: "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and ...
3
votes
2answers
242 views

Meaning of “catch birds for”?

I am reading B. Traven's adventure The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which is about three men who secretly go prospecting for gold. On their way home with their new-found loot they cover their tracks ...
1
vote
3answers
644 views

How to use “learn you” [closed]

While I was reading "The Adventures of Tom sawyer",I came across this phrase. Huck said ,"I will learn you." Is it right to say like that?Or we should say "I will learn from you"?
2
votes
1answer
425 views

How to use refer to previous literature/researches in research papers?

If I am talking about the topic Singapore English and I want to briefly survey the previous researches on the same topic, does the following sentences sound natural in English? In literature on ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Quintology or Pentalogy?

Recently I was looking at the X-Men box set and saw that currently five have been released. I had it in my head that these would be called a quintology but I have seen them being called a pentalogy. ...
6
votes
1answer
135 views

Meaning of “holidays of hay”

What does this phrase, from Pynchon's novel Gravity's Rainbow, mean? Schnorp, his hair blown like holidays of hay… There are no references to "holidays" or "hay" in the preceding several pages. ...
14
votes
2answers
421 views

Meaning of “cry creek” and “cock of the game”

I'm reading an excerpt from John Lyly (1554–1606), and there are some phrases that I can't find anything about on the net or elsewhere. Here is the context: Though Cutio be as hot as a toast, yet ...
6
votes
1answer
152 views

Meaning of “Let us hit with him, and not miss with him”

I'm reading one of Sir Philip Sidney's prose essays, "An Apology for Poetry" and I bumped into the following phrase which I never heard of. Can anyone please help me with it? Yet will some bring ...
0
votes
1answer
2k views

What does “fiend angelical” stand for?

Juliet--"Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!" (Act III Scene ii Line 77) When Juliet refers to Romeo as a "beautiful tyrant," she is expressing an oxymoron because the acts of a tyrant will rarely ...
7
votes
2answers
88 views

Who is “Martha” alluded to in “Eight Cousins”?

Early in Louisa May Alcott's novel Eight Cousins, a character is described thus: Aunt Plenty was utterly dissimilar, being a stout, brisk old lady, with a sharp eye, a lively tongue, and a face ...
3
votes
2answers
358 views

Literary device: frequently referenced object which never appears

What do you call an object or a person which is frequently referenced but never actually appears? For example, Godot from ‘Waiting for Godot’?
4
votes
1answer
328 views

Meaning of “shot” cloth

"A truly beautiful shade! A cloth of smoked grey, shot with flame colour!" —Gogol, trans. by D. J. Hogarth 'Shot' is what is confusing me. In my mind I imagine it refers to a repeated pattern. ...
4
votes
0answers
151 views

How is she to describe how she likes him, when he doesn't know? [closed]

There's a friend of mine—let's call her Lily—and a guy—David. Lily told me that she feels very happy each time she meets, talks, plays games, dines (and so on) with David. I guess she's falling in ...