(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter II, passage 36, published 1892)

The house, by daylight, had proved to be six stories high, the same as ever. I could find, with all my architectural experience, no room in its altitude for those interminable stairways, no width between its walls for that long corridor, where I had tramped at night. And there was yet a greater difficulty. I had read somewhere an aphorism that everything may be false to itself save human nature. A house might elongate or enlarge itself—or seem to do so to a gentleman who had been dining. The ocean might dry up, the rocks melt in the sun, the stars fall from heaven like autumn apples; and there was nothing in these incidents to boggle the philosopher. But the case of the young lady stood upon a different foundation. Girls were not good enough, or not good that way, or else they were too good. I was ready to accept any of these views: all pointed to the same conclusion, which I was thus already on the point of reaching, when a fresh argument occurred, and instantly confirmed it. I could remember the exact words we had each said; and I had spoken, and she had replied, in English. Plainly, then, the whole affair was an illusion: catacombs, and stairs, and charitable lady, all were equally the stuff of dreams.

This aphorism isn't that big a deal. It's just an aside in this context in my opinion; however, I would like to know what the speaker (Loudon Dodd) wants to communicate using this aphorism. So far, the story has told us Loudon Dodd got lost in his own apartment block the night before because he was drunk, and now he is reflecting what happened last night. I don't really understand what Loudon Dodd is trying to say with this aphorism (it will be necessary to read passage 32 et seqq.; the whole thing takes place in Paris).

  • 1
    I think he's saying that the house may not be as he remembers it from the night before, but the sensible, practical young lady must have been real. Feb 28 at 9:02
  • 1
    [the story has told us or the story has said] It's just a transition to go from architecture to the girl.
    – Lambie
    Feb 28 at 15:41


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