I read the following sentence

"They seemed like a double drift of stars, streaming through space."

In this passage:

"...Then this blood began to change too. Instead of a continuous liquid stream, Maskull perceived that it was composed of a million individual points. The red color had been as illusion caused by the rapid motions of the points; he now saw clearly that they resembled minute suns in their scintillating brightness. They seemed like a double drift of stars, streaming through space. One drift was traveling toward a fixed point in the center, while the other was moving away from it. He recognized the former as the veins of the beast, the latter as the arteries, and the fixed point as the heart."

What does "double drift of stars" mean here?

  • 1
    It means a set of stars moving in one direction, and another set of stars moving in a different direction. – Hellion Aug 22 '15 at 20:39

Your circulatory system has two components, the arterial and the venous. Blood in the venous vessels (the veins) moves "toward a fixed point in the center" of your chest, i.e., your heart. The blood in the arterial vessels (the arteries) moves away from your heart. The narrator senses his blood not as a liquid, but as individual blood cells (which he imagines as stars) in the drift (i.e., the circulation) of the system. Some of these "stars" move in the flow toward the heart and some move away from it. Thus the "double."

(Maskull's perception is right about the flow of blood in the body, but it's wrong on two other counts. The red color isn't an illusion of motion but the action of oxygen on iron-containing hemoglobin, and a body's blood cells number in the trillions, not a million.)

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