Questions tagged [meaning]

Questions regarding the meaning of certain terms or phrases used in a work of literature. If your question concerns the symbolic significance of something whose surface meaning is clear, use the [symbolism] tag instead. Please add specific tags as well: for the author (if known), the language (if not English), and either the work itself (if long) or the [poetry] or [short-stories] tags for short works.

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Confusing paragraph from the story 'Evans tries an O-level' by Colin Dexter

"Evans the Break" as the prison officers called him. Thrice he'd excaped from prison, and but for the recent wave of unrest in the maximum security establishments up north, he wouldn't now ...
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2 votes
1 answer
45 views

What's exactly meant by "raw I" and "being silky silk"?

In Judged by Ziyad Marar, the author was discussing Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, and its main character, Coleman Silk: Coleman as a classics professor is well versed in the Greek tragedies which ...
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2 votes
2 answers
137 views

How is "They seem to have a lot of parsons there, don’t they?” a joke?

This is from the story "Evans Tries An O-Level" by Colin Dexter", page 2, last paragraph. How is it a joke? "They seem to have a lot of parsons there, don’t they?” The two men ...
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2 votes
0 answers
27 views

Meaning of a "dry palate" and "frozen rain" in Achebe's "Things Fall Apart"

I am currently reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, consider the following passage. The colonizers just came to the tribe of Mbanta and everyone seemed uninterested... But there was a young ...
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2 votes
0 answers
26 views

Meaning of "unsatisfied claim upon his justice"

This is from Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit, Chapter 16: As often as he began to consider how to increase this inheritance, or to lay it by, so often his misgiving that there was some one with an ...
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10 votes
1 answer
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How to read "truths in Nietzsche’s sense of the word"

In the book titled Orientalism published in 1978, Edward W. Said wrote the following passage (page 204): For any European during the nineteenth century — and I think one can say this almost without ...
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3 votes
1 answer
55 views

Philanthropic scam in P. G. Wodehouse's "Something Fresh"

In the novel Something Fresh (1915) by P. G. Wodehouse, a scam is mentioned whereby a man advertises in the newspapers proposing to give a sum of money to anyone who cares to apply, provided he is not ...
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5 votes
1 answer
303 views

Who is Little Dorrit referring to when she says, "Don’t encourage him to ask"?

I am currently reading Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens and have come across the following passage from chapter 14: ‘Can you guess,’ said Little Dorrit, folding her small hands tight in one another, ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What does the term "Bred in a creed too darkly audacious to pursue" mean from "Little Dorrit"?

Dickens's Little Dorrit, chapter 13: Bred in a creed too darkly audacious to pursue, through its process of reserving the making of man in the image of his Creator to the making of his Creator in the ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What part of the valley is the "mouth", in this passage from the Witcher series?

For visualization purposes I would like to know what part of the valley does the 'mouth' refer to in English. Taken from Sapkowski's "The Lady Of The Lake": it lay right beside the mouth of ...
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2 votes
1 answer
48 views

"No more than you could talk Beef into him" from Little Dorrit Charles Dickens Chapter 12

I am reading Little Dorrit By Charles Dickens , and I would like to know what the following phrase means: When a man felt, on his own back and in his own belly, that poor he was, that man (Mr ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Who is saying "what was a man to do? from The following passage in Charles Dickens Little Dorrit Chapter 12

Then you see, some people as was better off said, and a good many such people lived pretty close up to the mark themselves if not beyond it so he’d heerd, that they was ‘improvident’ (that was the ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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What does the term "one heat down" in Dickens's "Little Dorrit" mean?

Mr Casby lived in a street in the Gray’s Inn Road, which had set off from that thoroughfare with the intention of running at one heat down into the valley. Little Dorrit, chapter 13 What does the ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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What does "much worse fed and lodged and treated altogether than" mean in chapter 12 from Dickens's Little Dorrit?

Chapter 12 in Dickens's Little Dorrit contains the following passage: There was old people, after working all their lives, going and being shut up in the workhouse, much worse fed and lodged and ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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Meaning and significance of "cacheremo" in the Decameron?

In Day 3 Story 8 of the Decameron (Italian original), a prisoner in an abbey, who believes himself to be in purgatory, asks how far he is from his own country, and received the following reply: “And ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What does "the Matthew Arnold" mean in this poem?

A while ago, I came across this poem by Kay Ryan online: The idle are shackled to their oars. The waters of idleness are borderless of course and must always be plied. Relief is foreign on this wide ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Who ran away with Mrs Captain Barbary in Charles Dickens' "Little Dorrit"?

From Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, Chapter 12: The Principal and instrument soon drove off together to a stable-yard in High Holborn, where a remarkably fine grey gelding, worth, at the lowest ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Who is the "unconscious stranger of Mrs. Micawber’s last letter" in "David Copperfield"?

From chapter 52 of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens: His house was not far off; and as the street-door opened into the sitting-room, and he bolted in with a precipitation quite his own, we found ...
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0 answers
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What does "Mine is a watery pit / Painless with immense distance" from Alt-J “Taro” mean?

Mine is a watery pit Painless with immense distance Is this an allusion to something or were the lines written originally by the songwriters?
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2 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of "huffle of a snail", "goat's new compass", etc. in A. A. Milne's "The Four Friends"

I've been reading When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne and I wonder how can I interpret the following parts of his poem "The Four Friends". I marked in bold those parts that I don't know ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Disconnected components in Yahgulanaas' "Red: A Haida Manga"

In Red: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, each page is connected to other pages by black marks. I was told that pages connected this way can be read after one another, allowing for multiple ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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Meaning of "They don't have alibis" in "The Intuitionist"

The traffic at quitting time is a bother. Radio station WCAM equips men with binoculars and positions them at strategic overpasses to describe the gnarls and tangles. Lila Mae is never able to ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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What is "taughtly aristocratic"?

I was just introduced to the sci-fi short story "The Jackson Killer", thanks to this ID answer on another site. It can be read freely online at the Internet Archive. One of the paragraphs ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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In "If I Had a Hammer", what are the "out" lines meant to indicate?

In the folk song "If I Had a Hammer" by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, there's a recurring set of lyrics regarding the hammer, bell, and song that go like this: And I'd hammer out danger I'd ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Where did Doyle write that the Hound of the Baskervilles was originally intended as a "Victorian creeper", and what does this mean?

According to Wikipedia (section "Technique" in the Wikipedia page for the famous Sherlock Holmes story "The Hound of the Baskervilles"; emphasis mine): The novel incorporates five ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What is the meaning of "Or feed upon such nice and waterish diet" and "Or breed itself so out of circumstances" in "Othello"?

In William Shakespeare's Othello, Act 3, Scene 3, Desdemona assures Cassio that Othello's anger at him is only dictated by wise policy and that Othello will restore him to his position in the future. ...
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11 votes
3 answers
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What is meant by "without resorting to the sexton's spade that buried Jacob Marley" in A Christmas Carol?

Near the end of Stave 3 of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge a Christmas party hosted by Scrooge's nephew Fred. Fred's wife plays a song that was familiar with Scrooge's ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of the noun 'sweet' in Keats' "Endymion"

I am unsure about the meaning of sweet when used as a noun in John Keats' Endymion. Here are some examples uses of the word: Verse 224: Thus ending, on the shrine he heap’d a spire Of teeming sweets, ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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Explain the grammar of "That not one fleecy lamb ..." in Keats' "Endymion"

I have a question regarding the meaning of a stanza from Keats' Endymion: Among the shepherds, ’twas believed ever, That not one fleecy lamb which thus did sever From the white flock, but pass’d ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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What is meant by "I am standing in the spirit at your elbow" in A Christmas Carol?

Near the beginning of Stave 2 of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Past draws aside Scrooge's bed curtains: The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a hand. Not the curtains ...
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24 votes
2 answers
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Explain the 28 Feb 2022 Dilbert cartoon use of the phrase "sticking the landing"

Can someone explain today's Dilbert cartoon, in particular explain what "sticking the landing" means?
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1 vote
0 answers
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Meaning of "They’re that important" in "The Intuitionist"

This part of Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist has been troubling me for a few days. The trip is everything to elevator inspectors—the bumps and shudders, not the banalities of departure and ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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What does "trip" have to do with "radio waves" in "The Intuitionist"?

In Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist, after the elevator of Briggs building had fallen, the Chairman of the elevator inspector's guild was holding a press conference at the entrance of the HQ. ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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Was Teresa the manager or not in "Dead End Girl"?

The prologue of Dead End Girl, narrates the experience of Teresa Riley finding a body in the oil dumpster at the Burger King she works at. At one point in the narration we find the following statement:...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What does "red haze of agony" mean in "Terrified" by C. B. Gilford?

I’m reading a short story, “Terrified” by C. B. Gilford. This story is about Santin, a seller; he got an accident with a car on the opposite side of road. The occupants of that car, a young man and ...
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5 votes
0 answers
62 views

Why does the painter make the shawl red in "Chadariya Jhini re Jhini"?

What does the poet wants to convey with these lines? rang-rej ko dinhi. Aisa rang, ranga rang re le, lal-o-lal kar dinhi. English translation: it was given to a master-painter. He painted the ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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What would “before” mean here?

I’ve just started reading Colson Whitehead‘s Intuitionist and found this. Big Billy Porter is one of the Old Dogs, and proud of it. On many occasions Lila Mae has returned to the Pit from an errand ...
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4 votes
1 answer
116 views

What does it mean to "graze on the fizzy air"?

This is from James Scully's translation of Aias (also known as Ajax), in The Complete Plays of Sophocles, translated by Robert Bagg & James Scully.                      Dear boy may you be ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Meaning of "fist-sized clean space on his face" in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

From chapter 3 of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: The boy stood up. He was the filthiest human I had ever seen. His neck was dark gray, the backs of his hands were rusty, and his fingernails ...
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1 vote
1 answer
62 views

What is Nioman water?

Jakub Kolas's poem Evenings (from The New Land) contains the following lines: I see level lands, far over Nioman water, and their clothing What is Nioman water?
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5 votes
1 answer
441 views

What does the "he/him" refer to in "I'll try to get him to work far out" in The Old Man and the Sea?

I began to read The Old Man and the Sea recently. I'm reading a paperback but for the question I'm using the link to Gutenberg. Soon after I started to read the book, I found I did not understand what ...
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11 votes
2 answers
1k views

Origin of the war-cry "Eulalia" in Brian Jacques's Redwall series?

In Brian Jacques's Redwall series, "Eulalia" is the traditional war cry of the badgers and hares of Salamandastron. It's also the title of one of the books in the series, but it's used ...
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2 votes
1 answer
67 views

What does Bourne mean by thinking "geometrically" during the post-Victoria Peak debrief?

After the fighting in the Victoria Peak house, Bourne talks to a few government people; they trade information, insights, and heated remarks about the events which brought them there. At one point he ...
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3 votes
1 answer
81 views

In Seamus Heaney's 'North', why are the Vikings' voices "lifted in violence and epiphany"?

Seamus Heaney's poem 'North' contains these lines: those fabulous raiders, those lying in Orkney and Dublin […] were ocean-deafened voices warning me, lifted again in violence and epiphany. It would ...
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2 votes
1 answer
53 views

Meaning of "Beneath the water of their lives" quote by Mitch Albom

Recently I was reading the book "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom and I came across this quote: It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that ...
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5 votes
1 answer
581 views

What does "the ass and the wall are quits" mean?

This phrase is used at least twice in the Decameron: In Day 2 Story 9, when the merchants at the beginning of the story are boasting of their infidelity to their wives and justifying themselves by ...
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8 votes
2 answers
921 views

Who are these crescent saints?

In the Decameron Day 2 Story 7, the protagonist is a princess of "Babylon" who has numerous sexual misadventures after getting shipwrecked on the way to be married. She is, I believe, ...
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1 vote
3 answers
268 views

Understanding "If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is."

"If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is." John von Neumann Why can't someone think that both math and life are ...
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4 votes
1 answer
212 views

What is the lamp-post jag?

This passage from R. A. Lafferty's short story "Dream World" (freely available to read online) puzzles me: "What is the lamp-post jag, Bascomb?" asked Officer Mossback McCarty. &...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What's the connection of a watery food to a book?

Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, volume 2 includes the following letter from Darwin to W. Ogle, written with regard to Dr. Ogle's translation of Kerner's book, 'Flowers and their Unbidden Guests': ...
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