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Questions tagged [literature]

Questions citing excerpts from works of literature.

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51 views

What is a “stick-on dashboard bubble”?

In Stephen King's Salem's Lot, I read ...Parkin's Ford with a stick-on dashboard bubble... What is a stick-on dashboard bubble? Googling didn't yield any meaningful results (anything you could ...
11
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3answers
999 views

The meaning and usage of ‘stiffs’ in “Of Mice and Men”

I would really appreciate it if someone could confirm whether I have interpreted correctly the meaning of “stiffs” in the following excerpt “I had enough,” he said angrily. “You ain't wanted here. ...
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2answers
423 views

Does “His eyes fell shut” make sense? [closed]

This is something I've been writing for a while, but I know that I tend to keep writing things from my tween years that may not make sense. Have you ever read a sentence like "his eyes fell shut" or ...
10
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2answers
1k views

Meaning of “native bottoms” in Thoreau's Walden

I'm not sure what native bottoms means in this paragraph from Thoreau's Walden. Is it a nautical term? Would someone kindly shed some light on this? Search results on the matter are... ahem... ...
7
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2answers
1k views

The term “handy” in “Of Mice and Men”

[Candy] "That's the boss's son," he said quietly. "Curley's pretty handy. He done quite a bit in the ring. He's a lightweight, and he's handy." "Well, let him be handy," said George. "He don't ...
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3answers
112 views

What does it mean “Leaping into saddle as she ran”?

I am reading Andrzej Sapkowski's "The time of contempt". I found the paragraph which I didn't get, here it is: "She had to be faster than them. She ran to the black horse, who was stamping its hooves ...
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1answer
279 views

Is it correct to say “there be…”?

I'm currently reading the Lord of the Rings book, and one sentence says: "... Where there be mountains of gold, they say". Now I'm not English mothertongue, but I've found the same expression ...
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2answers
1k views

What does “I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains” mean?

I just want to ask you a question that I stated above at my title section... What does 'I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains' mean? It's a quote from a book called True Grit, a ...
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2answers
600 views

What does a “toothless walnut” mean? [closed]

I'm looking for the meaning of this sentence taken from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: A little man in a top hat was talking to the old bartender, who was quite bald and looked like a ...
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1answer
67 views

Using 'a' with an uncountable entity

The sentence goes like this: Sometimes, it is just a friction that can ignite an entire forest. My editor asked me to remove 'a' because friction is uncountable noun. However, I am trying to portray ...
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3answers
176 views

Commas Usage and Restrictive Clauses

So, I'm having trouble working out whether or not the title of a literary work should be surrounded by commas. This is because most grammar guides, including the Chicago Manual of Style, which I use, ...
2
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1answer
92 views

Meaning of “paenistic”

I came across this word in David Foster Wallace's short story "Another Pioneer": the child's response appearing to become more and more digressive and paenistic as the conventionally pious villager ...
4
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2answers
175 views

Is there an official term for long, unpunctuated sentences?

after reading a recent thread on this topic (see here: What would you call the stylistic omission of punctuation?) I found that answers such as 'stream of consciousness' and 'run-on sentences' simply ...
2
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3answers
570 views

Can someone explain the grammar in “…his breath was stopped.”? [closed]

Why does Steinbeck, when describing an old man's death, say "his breath was stopped" rather than "his breath had stopped"? The context and full sentence below: Grampa seemed to be struggling; all ...
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3answers
1k views

Is “couldn't have had a more encouraging XYZ than…” ambiguous?

Have a look at the following sentence – He couldn't have had a more encouraging opening in films than our grown-up make-up boy had. On the contrary he must have had to face more uncertain and ...
4
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2answers
2k views

What does “showing as much interest as a bee shows in vinegar cruet” mean?

There is a line in the short story, A Thousand Dollars, where one of the characters is described in the statement above. My first thought was that it meant that the character was showing no interest (...
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1answer
280 views

Should I read stage directions when reading from a play? [closed]

I will be doing an oral presentation on a play next week. I am not sure if I should read the adjectives in this sentence, because it is followed by a quotation mark.      &...
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1answer
38 views

Meaning of “artfully indeterminate” in this excerpt from The Lies of Locke Lamora?

I recently started reading The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch and was confronted with "artfully indeterminate" in the following context: [ What say you? Are you the helpful sort? Are you willing ...
4
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1answer
235 views

What does “sink and copper” mean in British parlance circa 1937?

Near the start of Chapter IV of "The Road to Wigan Pier" (1937), Orwell in describing the typical living conditions for coal miners states (my emphasis): All have an almost exactly similar living-...
5
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1answer
865 views

What does “making a league” mean?

I think this is an idiom/expression referring to happiness or relief, but it might also be a sailing term used by sailors. It's from Christopher Columbus’s journal (1492), as he writes about ...
3
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1answer
242 views

Meaning of “fly” as an adjective?

In Jean Rhys's short story "The Lotus" (published in the collection Tigers Are Better-Looking in 1968), I found the following piece of dialogue (emphasis added): 'Sarcastic, isn't she? A dainty ...
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1answer
405 views

Alternative meaning of “all in all”

The common meaning of the phrase "all in all" has been covered on this site already, but what does it mean in the following usages? The days when my mother and I and Peggotty were all in all to one ...
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0answers
101 views

Is “fare you well” still used in Norfolk?

Jean Rhys's story "Till September Petronella" contains the following passage: 'Fare you well,' he said. 'That's what they say in Norfolk, where I come from.' 'Good-bye.' 'No, say fare you ...
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1answer
177 views

What's the meaning of “spit” in “my own spit and faith”?

What's the meaning of "spit" in the following statement? I believe in a good laugh, a day's fishing, a bit of gardening. I was very proud of my old greenhouse, made out of my own spit and faith. ...
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1answer
3k views

What does spite mean in “spite of despondence” in the poem Endymion by John Keats?

The poem Endymion by John Keats reads: A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and a ...
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1answer
81 views

“be any good” meaning + articles omission in case of 3 nouns conected with “and”

I have some questions regarding this fragment of Philip Roth's American Pastoral: "The Swede started as end in football, center in basketball, and first baseman in baseball. Only the basketball team ...
4
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1answer
3k views

“Obscene yourself” (literally) in Hemingway's “For Whom The Bell Tolls”

I am reading Hemingway's "For Whom The Bell Tolls" (an edition from 1960). Throughout the book, strong words and obscenities are replaced literally by the term "obscenity" or similar. For example (...
3
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2answers
296 views

What are dress-boxes in a theatre?

Here is a sentence from Dickens: On somebody’s motion, we resolved to go downstairs to the dress-boxes, where the ladies were. This is a scene in a theatre, when drunk Copperfield with friends ...
1
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1answer
425 views

Is “as (adjective) as (adjective)” acceptable usage?

For idiosyncratic reasons of euphony and metre, I want to write (something like) "She wore round her neck many gems, as beautiful as rare." I feel in my bones that this formulation, "... as (...
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3answers
1k views

What word would be the opposite to “plagiarism”

Assume that I'm citing a piece of poetry and I claim that it's from Shakespeare, when in fact it's my own. Is there a term for that? I'm interested in this exact meaning of a word "opposite" to ...
1
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1answer
565 views

The meaning of “Not but what it might have been for something else; but it warn't.”?

What exactly does this line by Dickens mean? "'Yes, master, and I've never been in it much.' (I had come out of Kingston Jail last on a vagrancy committal. Not but what it might have been for ...
34
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2answers
8k views

Is the phrase “yellow card” slang for a female body part?

In Hemmingway's The Sun Also Rises, Braddocks says of Georgette that: "She was rather splendid, you know. Showed her yellow card and demanded the patronne's daughter's too." But they weren't ...
19
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1answer
3k views

Does “-een” denote endearment?

When reading Nabokov's The Annotated Lolita I came across these two terms on p. 104: girleen, Laureen. After all, Dante fell madly in love with his Beatrice when she was nine, a sparkling girleen, ...
2
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2answers
774 views

What is a railway-share?

In The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll there is a repeated line: You may threaten its life with a railway-share. What is a railway-share in this context? All I can find is shares as in ...
1
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1answer
80 views

“Boards are made of wood; they are long and narrow.”

What is the origin of the English phrase "Boards are made of wood; they are long and narrow.", and what is its general connotation? I just ran across this quotation in Edward Everett Hale's The Brick ...
1
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3answers
586 views

What does 'make much muster' mean in the following context?

This excerpt comes from Uncle Tom's Cabin(270), 'No; I slept, ears and all, for an hour or two, for I was pretty well tired; but when I came to myself a little, I found that there were some men in ...
3
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1answer
583 views

Stay off the pavement!

The difference between the meanings of the word "pavement" in British and American English is quite stark: in British English it usually means sidewalk, whereas in American English it usually refers ...
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4answers
2k views

What is the nuanced difference between “at seeing” and “when seeing”?

A book about translation studies gives an example on how the nuance of the phrase at seeing will be lost if it is simply understood as when seeing. The sentence context is taken from The Way of the ...
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2answers
169 views

What does this passage from “Gone With the Wind” mean? [closed]

The MacIntoshes were Scotch-Irish and Orangemen and, had they possessed all the saintly qualities of the Catholic calendar, this ancestry would have damned them forever in Gerald's eyes. --from Gone ...
24
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1answer
2k views

What does “stick-at-naught” mean?

Over on a question about The Lord of the Rings, the phrase "stick-at-naught" has been brought up. There's some debate over its meaning. In The Lord of the Rings, Book One, Chapter 11: A Knife in the ...
2
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1answer
181 views

“Opus magnum” of the English Language [closed]

While in Spanish we are taught that Cervantes’ Don Quixote is the defining work of literature of the Spanish language (not as a matter of opinion, but rather as a matter of Canon), I have heard ...
0
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1answer
476 views

Using slash instead of apostrophe

I'm reading the novel Requiem for a Dream by Selby Jr. It has some strange grammar for common contractions. For example instead of "we're" it is "we/re", "I'll" it is "Ill" and "we'd" it is "we/d" and ...
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1answer
534 views

In “Great Expectations”, what does this mean? [closed]

In Chapter 20 of Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, what does the phrase I have bolded mean? Nevertheless, a hackney-coachman, who seemed to have as many capes to his greasy great-coat as he ...
0
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1answer
395 views

Meaning of “unbounded save” - The Souls of Black Folk by WEB du Bois

I am trying to understand a small portion of the following quote from The Souls of Black Folk: The Nation has not yet found peace from its sins; the freedman has not yet found in freedom his ...
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1answer
56 views

What does “long since shed” mean? [closed]

I am reading Star Wars Episode I. One sentence goes like this: "His smooth, boyish face suggested an immaturity that had been long since shed." I am not sure what the phrase "long since shed" means....
4
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1answer
104 views

Meaning of “the kynge gaf hem leue for fayne wold he haue ben accorded with her”

Here is a fragment of Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory: Thenne alle the barons by one assent prayd the Kynge of accord betwixe the lady Igrayne and hym / the kynge gaf hem leue / for fayne ...
1
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1answer
142 views

Capitalization of “time”

Another question from the world of Charles Dickens.... In Great Expectations, the police sergeant says the following to Mr. Pumblechook: "Would you give me the Time!" I was surprised at this ...
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0answers
56 views

“Cannon” as an uncountable noun [duplicate]

In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens wrote the following: We had not gone far when three cannon were fired ahead of us I always thought the plural of cannon was cannons, as a rule. This usage of ...
5
votes
1answer
827 views

What is a “dash-one”?

I'm reading Thomas Pynchon's Vineland, and I came across a phrase I'm unfamiliar with. For context, Zoyd (the main character) has taken a job playing music on a temperamental synthesizer in a flying ...
3
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2answers
351 views

I like her too ill to attempt it

Source : Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. 'I wish to punish her sauciness, that's all— I like her too well, my dear Heathcliff, to let you absolutely seize and devour her up.' [Catherine] 'And ...