Questions tagged [literature]

Questions citing excerpts from works of literature.

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2
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1answer
245 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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54 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 ...
3
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1answer
170 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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5answers
898 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 ...
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2answers
908 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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2answers
190 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 ...
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1answer
76 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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1answer
165 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 ...
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1answer
51 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. ‘...
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4answers
103 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 ...
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1answer
72 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 ...
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1answer
40 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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37 views

What did Lord Byron mean by "Away with this cant about nature!"?

In Oscar Wilde's A Sentimental Journey Through Literature, he suggests that the literary critic 'Mr Noel' thought Lord Byron was a "true nature worshipper and Pantheist". Wilde provides ...
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1answer
76 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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1answer
44 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
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41 views

In "Brown Man's Burden" is the antecedent changing?

I was reading the "The Brown Man's Burden" by Henry Labouchère. I was a little confused because the antecedent for "you," seemed to be changing from the White men to the Brown men (...
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1answer
166 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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5answers
3k views

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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1answer
34 views

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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3answers
94 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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30 views

Is this a typo in The Call of the Wild?

Here is the scene of the final fight between Buck and Spitz at the end of chapter 3 in The Call of the Wild by Jack London: Spitz was untouched, while Buck was streaming with blood and panting hard. ...
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1answer
120 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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1answer
74 views

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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2answers
140 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 ...
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1answer
81 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 ...
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1answer
67 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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50 views

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 ...
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1answer
69 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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1answer
33 views

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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1answer
117 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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4answers
287 views

What does Dickens mean by "servant" in A Christmas Carol? [closed]

In the following quote from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, why does Dickens describe himself as a servant to the reader? What does he mean here? their faithful friend and servant, C.D.
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1answer
77 views

Can the first person singular pronoun 'I' take in 's' in the simple present?

I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Gloria Scott by Arhur Conan Doyle : "Thank you sir, said, the seaman, touching his forelock. I am just off a two-yearer in an eight-knot ...
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1answer
493 views

What is the meaning of "laid by the heels"?

I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Gloria Scott by Arthur Conan Doyle: It was a prosaic way of forming a friendship, but it was effective. I was laid by the heels for ten days, but ...
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1answer
85 views

"An" in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew

In Act 1, Scene 1, Katherine says to Bianca, A pretty peat! It is best / Put finger in the eye, an she knew why". I understand "Put finger in the eye" means she is fake crying for ...
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25 views

what is the meaning of 'three parts' in :"if ever a man was three parts mad with terror, that man's name is Pinner"?

I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Stockbroker's Clerk by Arthur Conan Doyle: "There is something which I don't understand in his manner. If ever a man was three parts mad with ...
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0answers
38 views

What is the meaning of "length of my face" in : "Don't be disheartened Mr Pycroft : said my new acquaintance, seeing the length of my face"

I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Stockbroker's Clerk by Arthur Conan Doyle. I gather from the context that that Mr Pycroft is referring to his disappointment by "the length ...
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1answer
104 views

What is the meaning of "let in" in : "but they were let in in early in the spring through the Venezuelan loan, as no doubt you remember"

I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, the Stockbroker's clerk, by Arthur Conan Doyle. It says: "I used to have a billet at Coxon and Woodhouse's, of Drapers' Gardens, but they were ...
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2answers
752 views

What does "goathawks" mean in this passage from All The Pretty Horses?

I'm currently on page 123 of All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, and came across this passage. The mouths of the cans were lensed with tinted cellophane and they cast upon the sheeting a ...
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1answer
2k views

What is the meaning of the word "connection" in: "Shortly after my marriage I had bought a connection in the Paddington district."

I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, "The Stockbroker's Clerk", by Arthur Conan Doyle. Does "a connection" mean "a clinic" or "a business" or ...
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1answer
98 views

What does the sentence "I lit a cigarette that tasted like a plumber's handkerchief" mean? [closed]

In what way does a plumber's handkerchief taste like a cigarette?
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3answers
125 views

What is the meaning of 'fly' in: "I wonder how many real amber mouth-pieces there are in London? Some people think that a fly in it is a sign."

I am quoting The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Yellow Face By Arthur Conan Doyle. Is it some kind of brand of amber-stemmed pipes that has a fly as a logo or what?
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48 views

Word for stating something as fact when narrator and audience knows it is untrue?

I am looking for a literary term that is similar to irony. Basically, the narrator say something in an almost sarcastic way by stating something that everyone knows is untrue. The quote I am going off ...
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1answer
33 views

Love of Home and Friends—like the ridge behind a Bunker! (Meaning)

I'm translating a fable by George Ade called "The Fable of the Visitor Who Got a Lot for Three Dollars." In the following extract, the phrenologist is telling his customer how he is based on ...
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3answers
69 views

I wanted to know what is the meaning of "checking off the points upon the palm of his left hand"?

I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Silver Blaze by Arthur Conan Doyle: "I lay back against the cushions, puffing at my cigar, while holmes, leaning forward, with his long thin ...
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57 views

"Don't they carry one back to all one's parties?"

In Katherine Mansfield's The Garden Party (1921), there is this question I cannot decipher semantically nor grammatically. In this scene, this high-society family is preparing a garden party. Cream ...
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1answer
49 views

half-column means terse?

In the opening paragraph to “The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Watson writes: The story has, I believe, been told more than once in the newspapers, but, like all such ...
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4answers
2k views

What type of English is used in the dialogue of the Lord of the Rings movies? [closed]

In the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Elrond speaks to his daughter: "If Aragorn survives this war, you will still be parted. If Sauron is defeated and Aragorn made king and all ...
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1answer
40 views

Downwards upon us - is it above or below then?

Reading a story, I found the following sentence: Downwards upon us, with limbless Atlantean stridings, there swept the cloudy cohorts. I am struggling with understanding of the phrase "...
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1answer
59 views

Does "malefic rune", possible typo from "tune" in the context?

I have been reading a story by Robert Bloch - The feast in the Abbey. I just cannot see how the "rune" can be correct in the following: As I thus mused there fell upon my ears the sounds ...
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1answer
35 views

"Measured cadence" meaning in the musical context (monks' chanting)

I would like to ask for help with proper understanding of the following paragraph (included to give some context): As I thus mused there fell upon my ears the sounds of sonorous chanting that ...

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