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This phrase comes from The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated by C. J. Hogarth. Here is the full sentence:

"But I was an uninvited guest at the luncheon—the General had forgotten to arrange otherwise, or I should have been dispatched to dine at the table d'hote. Nevertheless, I presented myself in such guise that the General looked at me with a touch of approval.”

I looked up a Chinese translation, which is my first language, and it says this: "The general took a discontented glimpse at me."

The question is: is "a touch of approval" a negative expression that can be interpreted as "discontent" or "dissatisfied"?

  • I'd say it should be more like a glimpse of approval or acknowledgement. It's a positive expression, and not negative. – Mamta D Oct 15 '15 at 4:44
  • Thanks for the quick reply. The same here... It would be great if I can read Russian. – babel92 Oct 15 '15 at 4:51
  • I would interpret it to mean a small amount of "positive" approval, such as a smile in the individual's direction. – Hot Licks Oct 15 '15 at 11:17
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I'd say it should be more like a glimpse of approval or acknowledgement. It's a positive expression, and not negative.

The full paragraph by the way is here so it definitely indicates a positive outcome:

Nevertheless, I presented myself in such guise that the General looked at me with a touch of approval; and, though the good Maria Philipovna was for showing me my place, the fact of my having previously met the Englishman, Mr. Astley, saved me, and thenceforward I figured as one of the company.

Source

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Touch here means a small amount, a hint or suggestion, as in:

The cake is good, but it needs a touch of vanilla.

The narrator is a gate crasher as the luncheon, but that smallest look of approval from the General saves the narrator's place at the table.

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