It is a line of one of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories, and it says:

We gave him a hearty welcome; for there was nearly half as much of the entertaining as of the contemptible about the man...

I don't understand the boldfaced part of the sentence. Does it mean the man was entertaining and despicable at the same time? If that is the case, what makes it confusing for me is that supposing that he was despicable, why did they give him a hearty welcome?


1 Answer 1


A larger excerpt would give us more context (I don't recognize the story in question), but I think you're reading it correctly: The man was entertaining and despicable at the same time.

They give him a hearty welcome because he's entertaining.
How entertaining?
Almost half as entertaining as he is contemptible.

In other words, he's so contemptible that even half that measure of entertainingness is enough entertainingness to earn an enthusiastic welcome (from his friends, I assume).

But it's deliberately phrased to also tells us something about the speaker: He and his friends are prepared to overlook the many faults of a contemptible man for no other reason than because they find his company entertaining.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.