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I have a question about the sentence "or did she lock up within her some secret which certainly Lily Briscoe believed people must have for the world to go on at all" from the Chapter 9 of the Part 1 of the novel "To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf.

https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/woolf/virginia/w91t/part1.html

Was it wisdom? Was it knowledge? Was it, once more, the deceptiveness of beauty, so that all one’s perceptions, half way to truth, were tangled in a golden mesh? or did she lock up within her some secret which certainly Lily Briscoe believed people must have for the world to go on at all? Every one could not be as helter skelter, hand to mouth as she was. But if they knew, could they tell one what they knew? Sitting on the floor with her arms round Mrs. Ramsay’s knees, close as she could get, smiling to think that Mrs. Ramsay would never know the reason of that pressure, she imagined how in the chambers of the mind and heart of the woman who was, physically, touching her, were stood, like the treasures in the tombs of kings, tablets bearing sacred inscriptions, which if one could spell them out, would teach one everything, but they would never be offered openly, never made public. What art was there, known to love or cunning, by which one pressed through into those secret chambers? What device for becoming, like waters poured into one jar, inextricably the same, one with the object one adored? Could the body achieve, or the mind, subtly mingling in the intricate passages of the brain? or the heart? Could loving, as people called it, make her and Mrs. Ramsay one? for it was not knowledge but unity that she desired, not inscriptions on tablets, nothing that could be written in any language known to men, but intimacy itself, which is knowledge, she had thought, leaning her head on Mrs. Ramsay’s knee.

Below is the sentence about which I have a question.

or did she lock up within her some secret which certainly Lily Briscoe believed people must have for the world to go on at all?

Does did she lock up within her some secret mean "did she lock up some secret in her own brain"?

Does the word have in the clause mean "own"?

Does the phrase "go on" in the clause mean "continue"?

Does the phrase "at all" in the clause mean "used for emphasis when you are saying or asking whether something is even slightly true, especially after words such as any, anything, anyone, or nothing"? (definition as seen at Macmillan Dictionary)

Does the clause mean "Lily Briscoe certainly believed that the people must own some secret for the world to continue at all"?

I can't understand the meaning and the structure of the clause. How do I correctly parse it?

I rephrase the sentence as "Lily Briscoe certainly believed that the people must own some secret for the world to continue at all".

Where can I put "for the world" in the rephrased sentence?

  • Apologies, but I really think you have answered your own question, here! – Anonymous Sep 8 '16 at 12:54
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“did she lock up within her some secret" means more than "did she lock up some secret in her own brain”. It suggests also ‘in her own heart…’ and ‘in the core of her being…’ and ‘somewhere with her…’, not exclusively but together at the same time.

Yes, “own" is as good a synonym as any other when “people must have for the world to go on at all”.

Yes, ”go on" does mean "continue”, perhaps skewed towards the sense “exist at all”.

"at all" is indeed used for emphasis. Dropping it would not change the basic meaning but it would make the statement less powerful.

"some secret which certainly Lily believed” seems more likely to mean "some secret which Lily - at least - believed” or “Lily - for one - believed”

  • Thank you very much for answering my questions. I really appreciate it. – Li Xiaodong Sep 23 '16 at 1:40

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