Questions tagged [literature]

Questions citing excerpts from works of literature.

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2 answers
80 views

Does the sentence "'This time, you won't get away,' squinted the man" make sense?

Usually, in literature they would use a myriad of words for "said" after quoting what the man says. Is using a different verb, like "squinted," correct in literature?
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11 votes
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What is a pisserroo? [migrated]

What is a "pisserroo" in the following passage? (Boys in the slum see a girl piss for the first time) She stoops over. We watch her close. "Wow!" "Ain't that something, Harry?...
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0 votes
1 answer
57 views

What does the `'` mean in english word

I am kind stuck when reading a sonnet: That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin'd choirs, where ...
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1 vote
1 answer
51 views

What is the meaning for the sentence: "I trust that age doth not wither nor custom stale my infinite variety"?

I did understand the words word by word but how do they make up a meaningful sentence is too much for me. I am quoting from the Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Empty House, by Arthur Conan Doyle: I ...
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1 vote
2 answers
70 views

What is the meaning of "campaigner" in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes?

I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Final Problem by Arthur Conan Doyle: "Because you will find me a dangerous companion now. This man's occupation is gone. He is lost if he ...
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0 votes
1 answer
42 views

From whose perspective the author is saying in the following fragment

I am trying to translate the short story by J. M. Coetzee but can't understand how exactly to interpret the sentence in the second paragraph. The story narrates about a young boy who finds a strange ...
1 vote
1 answer
66 views

What does "a paper of sandwiches" mean?

I am quoting from the TV series "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" (episode 3, "The Naval Treaty"): After leaving at the station I went for a charming walk through some admirable ...
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1 vote
0 answers
43 views

Did the English place name "Frome" used to be pronounced as it is spelled?

The English town Frome is famously pronounced as "froom". The following is two stanzas from the dedication of G.K. Chesterton's poem Ballad of the White Horse, from 1911. Up through an ...
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1 vote
1 answer
124 views

Why isn't there a comma in "Unloose him Frodo!"?

I was rather shocked by the extremely sparse use of commas by Tolkien, but in most cases, it still falls "within reason". However, there is one place (so far) in The Two Towers which just ...
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1 vote
0 answers
37 views

tell me the meaning of this line "you might as well choke getting yourself born"

I have a question from "A Day No Pigs Would Die." I can't get the grammatical usage and exact meaning of the following lines “Calf,” I said to him, “you stay up your ma’s hind-side and you’...
2 votes
1 answer
53 views

what does the expression "I was feathered" mean?

I'm reading "A Day No Pigs Would Die." I’d just wound up running away from Edward Thatcher and running away from the schoolhouse. I was feathered if I was going to run away from one darn ...
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0 answers
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What does "hell-turding away" mean here?

Just as we were reaching the cottage, we saw two women in the street. One of the women was Old Mrs Adams. She was shouting at another. Hell-turding away. From the book How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
1 vote
1 answer
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What does this sentence mean? ‘Two of the bell and mark him, boy, whip-cat tippled already.’

An amused man passing me and pointing to a drunkard struggling to get back on his feet. ‘Two of the bell and mark him, boy, whip-cat tippled already.’ From How to Stop Time by Matt Haig.
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0 answers
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The word "new" may be an Adverb or an Adjective

I am trying to understand this sentence where the word 'new' can both be an adverb and also an adjective. Can someone please help me explain the ambiguous structure and the meaning conveyed in the ...
1 vote
0 answers
28 views

Goodly/godly, loose/lose - name of the rhetorical device? [closed]

What is the name of the following rhetorical device? loose - lose goodly - godly (not in the sense that both words are used in a text but that one is used while implicitly implying the other, e.g. ...
0 votes
1 answer
37 views

Meaning of a sentence in David Copperfield

The phaeton was a very handsome affair; the horses arched their necks and lifted up their legs as if they knew they belonged to Doctors’ Commons. There was a good deal of competition in the Commons on ...
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12 votes
3 answers
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What did Tolkien mean by this awkward sentence structure?

In the first chapter of The Hobbit, I just read this: “Thank you!” said Bilbo with a gasp. It was not the correct thing to say, but they have begun to arrive had flustered him badly. He liked ...
4 votes
1 answer
672 views

What's the meaning of this paragraph in David Copperfield?

Within the first week of my passion, I bought four sumptuous waistcoats — not for myself; I had no pride in them; for Dora — and took to wearing straw-coloured kid gloves in the streets, and laid the ...
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0 votes
2 answers
61 views

What's the meaning of this sentence in David Copperfield?

Could anyone explain to me about the last sentence "as if a thousand things it makes a noise about, were not one-half so good for it, or me". Who is "it" and so on? As I think of ...
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0 votes
2 answers
58 views

What's the meaning of "that vagabond was made for the next two days"?

I am currently reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. There is one sentence which has puzzled me. But the Doctor himself was the idol of the whole school: and it must have been a badly ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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What does this sentence mean from "The Box Tunnel"? [closed]

I am reading a novel "The Box Tunnel" by Charles Reade. In the first paragraph, there is a sentence that I can't understand: The 10:15 train glided from Paddington May 7, 1847. In the left ...
5 votes
5 answers
2k views

What's the grammar used in "just what quarter he did not now remember" from the book 1984?

The context: He had seen it lying in the window of a frowsy little junk-shop in a slummy quarter of the town (just what quarter he did not now remember) and had been stricken immediately by an ...
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2 votes
1 answer
277 views

What's an early modern English excalmation roughly meaning "raise the roof!"?

I am a translator of Russian historical fiction set in the early modern period (mid-late 16th century) and I am looking for some good period-specific English equivalents of the phrase "жги-говори!...
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1 vote
0 answers
59 views

Could "being" be omitted in "spend time (being) someone"?

I came across a sentence in Maugham's The Moon and Sixpence that I don't quite comprehend: They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred, and remain aloof among the only scenes they ...
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3 votes
1 answer
273 views

Why is the verb "Pilot" capitalized in Robinson Crusoe?

The following is an excerpt from Robinson Crusoe (Oxford World's Classics, p39). my Business was to hold my Breath, and raise my self upon the Water, if I could; and so by swimming to preserve my ...
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4 votes
5 answers
986 views

Grammatically figure out this paragraph from All The Pretty Horses by C. McCarthy

From All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy: Leading the horses by hand out through the gate into the road and mounting up and riding the horses side by side up the ciénaga road with the moon in ...
3 votes
2 answers
928 views

What is the meaning of the verb 'to get in the way'?

I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Resident Patient by Arthur Conan Doyle: "Mr Blessington came in from his walk shortly afterwards, but I did not say anything to him upon the ...
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4 votes
2 answers
199 views

What does “takes advantage of their head rope runs the risk” mean?

The fol­low­ing line is from the 2015 trans­la­tion from the Span­ish of des­a­pa­re­ci­do Ar­gen­tine writer Ha­rol­do Con­ti’s 1962 novel, South­easter (orig­i­nal Span­ish ti­tle, Sud­este): This ...
0 votes
1 answer
119 views

What does "flood had made" mean?

A yawl is in the Thames and then The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest. The flood had made, the wind was nearly calm, and being bound down ...
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3 votes
1 answer
181 views

Meaning of "to put a cupcake to someone's head"

I'm reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty. It says: "You’d rather be here than in Africa. The trump card all narrow-minded nativists play. If you put a cupcake to my head, of course, I’d rather be ...
0 votes
1 answer
56 views

what does "glancing about him for support" mean? [closed]

Poppy brought a book. When everyone had been introduced she took the end chair and began to read with her hands round her face like blinkers. ‘This is the last time I let you do this,’ said Philip. ‘...
0 votes
4 answers
127 views

Word for “place of power”

I’m looking for a word (or literary/biblical reference) that means “a high place close to power and/or god.” As in “the stage was her ___, where she felt as if she could conquer the world.” Right now ...
0 votes
1 answer
123 views

What's the meaning of "steal" in There Is A Pleasure In The Pathless Woods? [closed]

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature ...
2 votes
1 answer
49 views

Is there a literary term which refers to works of art which include false statements or implications about the reality outside of the text?

Like, for example, the book The Princess Bride, which claims to be an abridged version of a book which never existed by an author who isn't real, and contains a variety of fabrications about the ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
99 views

Why is there a space in the bowdlerised "L– ." in Jane Eyre?

I have been reading Jane Eyre recently and came across a sentence the other day: ...and away we rattled over the “stony street” of L— . There is a blank between "–" and the full stop, which ...
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0 votes
1 answer
59 views

Is there a word for "the use of opposite expressions" similar to "comparison"

Is there a word as a use of language when the writer uses an opposite / bad example to make the correct / other ones particularly stand out? Thanks
3 votes
2 answers
99 views

Does the antecedent of ‘you’ shift in Labouchère’s poem “The Brown Man’s Burden”?

I was reading Henry Labouchère’s poem “The Brown Man’s Burden” first published in 1899. I was a little confused because at one point the antecedent for ye/you appears to switch from the white men to ...
0 votes
1 answer
250 views

What is the meaning of the verb "step across"? [closed]

I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Reigate Squires by Arthur Conan Doyle :"The colonel waved his hand towards my friend and the inspector bowed.'We thought that perhaps you ...
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19 votes
5 answers
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Early usage of Martian meaning inhabitant of Mars

Martian as an adjective meaning "of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the planet Mars" (originally in reference to astrological influence) is from the 14th century according to Etymonline;...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What is Skinn & Sheer in the Ambrose Bierce fable: The Rainmaker?

In the tale of Ambrose Bierce - The Rainmaker it is said the following: hat is a pretty good joke," said the Reporter, laughing as well as he could in the strangling rain - "a mule driver's ...
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3 answers
166 views

What is the meaning of 'above' in :" I've always been proud above my station in life'"?

I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Musgrave Ritual by Arthur Conan Doyle: 'Mr Musgrave, sir' he cried, in a voice which was hoarse with emotion, 'I can't bear disgrace, sir. I've ...
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1 vote
1 answer
209 views

Meaning of this piece of dialogue in The Call of the Wild?

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Call of the Wild by Jack London: Yet his time came, in the end, in the form of a little weazened man who spat broken English and many strange and uncouth ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What does the word 'operator' mean in here?

What does the word 'operators' mean in here? Does it actually mean technical operator or is it an idiom of some sort? I noticed a connection between the barn-burning section of The Moon and ...
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1 vote
2 answers
202 views

How is this comma usage explained with Thomas Pynchon?

I read Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon last year, and there was some comma usage I’ve been curious about ever since. For instance, I’ve just opened up a couple pages of it and saw that he has this ...
1 vote
1 answer
92 views

meaning of "riding out on sorties in quest of adventure"

I read in a (originally) German novel that: "They are continually riding out on sorties in quest of adventure" What are they exactly doing?! Living on booty? If so then how could it be in ...
2 votes
1 answer
77 views

What does "klioklio" mean? [closed]

I'm reading Malcolm Lowry's letters and his second letter to Conrad Aiken finishes like this: Klioklio, C. M. Lowry Does anyone know what "klioklio" mean? Thanks in advance!
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1 vote
0 answers
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what is the meaning of 'to wear one's breeches out' and 'rat-gutted'?

I am quoting from the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Gloria Scott by Arthur Conan Doyle: Now, you don't think it likely that a man who could do anything is going to wear his breeches out sitting in ...
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1 vote
1 answer
76 views

What does "te-thrum" mean?

I'm reading Malcolm Lowry's letters and his first letter to Conrad Aiken finishes like this: te-thrum te-thrum te-thrum te-thrum, Malcolm Lowry Does anyone know what "te-thrum" mean in this ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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Questions on the usage of 'cut against' based on Moby Dick

I found difficulty understanding the following line from Moby Dick, Ch.48. As for Fedallah, who was seen pulling the harpooneer oar, he had thrown aside his black jacket, and displayed his naked ...
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2 votes
1 answer
164 views

What does "tenable" mean to Shakespeare?

Hamlet: If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight, Let it be tenable in your silence still, And whatsoever else shall hap to-night, Give it an understanding, but no tongue: Tenable seems a strange ...

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