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The circle of traffic tightens at this hour round Regent’s Park; cars hummed past without a break; it was just before lighting-up time – quite soon the All Out whistles would sound. At the far side of the road, dusk set the Regency buildings back at a false distance: against the sky they were colourless silhouettes, insipidly ornate, brittle, and cold. The blackness of windows not yet lit or curtained made the houses look hollow inside. (pg. 9)

In this part, what does "set the Regency buildings back at a false distance" mean? Particularly I'm not sure about "false distance." Also I don't understand "the All Out whistles." I looked up the dictionary and googled this expression but to no avail. Can somebody explain them? By the way, the setting of this novel is 1930s London. I appreciate your help.

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    I understand this to mean that the dusk creates an optical illusion of distance. – michael.hor257k Jul 20 '17 at 10:06
  • Thank you michael. I vaguely understood it as you say. I'm translating this book so I wanted to make sure the exact meaning. Thank you. – silveryy Jul 20 '17 at 10:07
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The first part of this question is already answered—dusk makes the buildings look farther away than they really are.

The "All Out" whistles are the whistles that signal that Regent's Park is closing, and that everybody should leave. Regent's Park closes around dusk today; and it presumably did during the time period this book is set in, as well.

Lighting up time is when cars are legally required to turn on their headlights.

  • Thank you michael and peter shor ^^ Your answers were really helpful. At first i thought like michael about the whistles but I think peter shor's answer makes sense in this context. Thank you both though. – silveryy Jul 20 '17 at 11:15
  • +1 This makes better sense, and so I've deleted mine. – NVZ Jul 20 '17 at 12:25
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With regard to All Out whistles I managed to find the following on Google Books:

But Regent's Park was spoiled for her because she lived there anyway, overlooking the opulent houses that faced on to its green ... the distant sound of whistles as the keepers rounded up stragglers at the 'All Out' call, pursuing them on bicycles, ...


In a scared effort at common sense he decided that he had time to walk once round the park putting his thoughts in order and then would go home. ... on his left, it was already nearly dark and he could hear the park-keepers' whistles in the distance and their calls of All out. ...

I am not including the links as they do not actually lead to the quoted passages which I copied from the search results page.

  • Thank you michael. The excerpt makes it a lot easier to understand the context. – silveryy Jul 20 '17 at 11:59

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