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There is that sentence at the beginning of The Great Gatsby that I find difficult to understand:

He didn't say any more, but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way...

My first question is about "any more". Is it simply a printing mistake? Or does it have a different use than "anymore"?

My second one is about the sentence in itself. I don't understand what the author means. By "unusually communicative in a reserved way", does the author mean that the narrator rarely talks with his father and when they do, they do it in a reserved way? Or does he just describe their communication in a reserved way as unusual because they're father and son?

Thank you in advance.

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    He did not say more. "Any more", in this sense, means that he may have said some stuff earlier but he stopped talking (or at least stopped conveying information).
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 13, 2019 at 2:20
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    "Unusually communicative in a reserved way" means that his manner is "reserved" (look it up), but he still usually manages to convey a substantial amount of information.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 13, 2019 at 2:21
  • Thank you for your help @Hot Licks !
    – Daviiid
    Dec 18, 2019 at 13:23

3 Answers 3

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Your interpretation of the sentence is on the right track. This line comes very early in the novel, where Fitzgerald is trying to build the mindset of Nick. Nick recalls the advice his father gave him and then provides some context for their relationship.

Nick is saying that his father has always been reserved in their interactions -- meaning slow to express emotion -- but that he still understood the weight of his advice. The word unusually is there to point out this quirk in their relationship. They don't talk a lot, but they still understand one another.

The purpose of the sentence is to explain how Nick absorbs his father's advice and aims to reserve all judgements of others. Is he successful at that? His depictions of Jay, Daisy, and Jordan leave that up for debate.

Regarding the spelling of any more, it was a styllistic choice by Fitzgerald and is one of several printing decisions in Gatsby that may seem unusual to modern readers. But note that British dictionaries still consider any more to be the proper spelling.

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  • Thank you for your explanations it was really clear !
    – Daviiid
    Dec 18, 2019 at 13:30
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In Standard English, anymore, one word, means any longer.

You wouldn't say:

He didn't say any longer ...

although you might say

He didn't speak anymore,
He didn't speak any longer.

The grammar of this sentence is that more is being used as a pronoun, and the sentence means

He didn't say anything else.

You are not supposed to spell any more as one word for this meaning (although I'm sure that lots of people do).

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  • I have always spelled any more as one word. It's like for ever, I've discovered it in this novel too... Thank you for your explanations !
    – Daviiid
    Dec 18, 2019 at 13:25
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Anymore is an adverb. As two words, any more is an adjective—e.g., do you have any more books by Yeats?

In your quote, I think it’s an adjective, with the noun “words” or something similar understood, so it’s in effect part of a noun phrase used as an object.

anymore and any more are very close in Google ngram modern use, although I haven’t read through the entries for false positives or scanning errors.

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  • Thank you ! So even grammatically they're different.
    – Daviiid
    Dec 18, 2019 at 13:30

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