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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Difference between "emperor" and "living emperor" in Kafka's "The Great Wall of China"

This is a quote from "The Great Wall of China" by Franz Kafka. What's the difference between "emperor" and "living emperor"? Our land is so huge, that no fairy tale can ...
4 votes
0 answers
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What does Walt Whitman mean by the last two lines in his poem, "The Voice of the Rain"?

Here's Walt Whitman's poem "The Voice of the Rain" And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower, Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated: I am the Poem of Earth,...
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Explain a quote from "The Great Wall of China" by Franz Kafka

Can anyone explain the following quote from the short story "The Great Wall of China" by Franz Kafka: First, one must realize that at that time certain achievements were brought to fruition ...
2 votes
0 answers
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Understanding comparisons in Crowcolour by Ted Hughes

In the poem "Crowcolour", the shortest of Ted Hughes' Crow poems, there's a series of comparisons of Crow's blackness with other black images. Here's the full poem: Crow was so much ...
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What was Gheria trying to say?

I’m reading “No such thing as a vampire” by Richard Matheson (Link - Caution: There's a large scary skull picture on this website). In the paragraph below (bold emphasis added), I don’t understand ...
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1 answer
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What does "The people know that and are waiting for it" mean?

I’m reading “No such thing as a vampire” by Richard Matheson (Link- Caution: There's a large scary skull picture in this website). I have a problem and need some help. In the paragraph below, I don’t ...
1 vote
1 answer
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Sherlock Holmes: What does "woman's' hand" mean?

This is an excerpt from the Sherlock Holmes novel named The Hound of the Baskervilles (emphasis mine): "Well, Sir Henry, your uncle had a letter that morning. He had usually a great many letters,...
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What's the meaning of the following lines from "Tristan and Isolde: The Love Sin"?

What does Lady Jane Wilde mean when she says the following in her poem "Tristan and Isolde: The Love Sin" (lines 64-65): Like pale shadows from the tomb, When an open death of doom and ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Explaining a pun or nick-name from a Manning Coles thriller

Recently I have read, or re-read, a number of the old thrillers by Manning Coles. In the book With Intent to Deceive (1947—published in the United States as A Brother for Hugh), I ran into this bit of ...
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1 answer
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What does "The Neck" mean in Herr Mannelig?

What does "the Neck" mean in the phrase "The spawn of the Neck and the Devil"? I've met it in the translation of the Swedish song Herr Mannelig (video). Af Neckens och djävulens ...
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11 votes
1 answer
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What is a pisserroo?

What is a "pisserroo" in the following passage? (Boys in the slum see a girl piss for the first time) She stoops over. We watch her close. "Wow!" "Ain't that something, Harry?...
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31 votes
4 answers
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Meaning of a 19 century joke printed in a newspaper, with punchline "Oh, mother, what a good job the cat’s a black one"

From a 19th century newspaper: A family who had the misfortune to lose their father were discussing what mourning would be required, when the youngest, a child of six, said : "Oh, mother, what a ...
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In Crane's "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen", does Helen turn into a neon sign?

In Yannella, Philip R. “‘Inventive Dust’: The Metamorphoses of ‘For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen.’” Contemporary Literature, vol. 15, no. 1, 1974, pp. 102–22. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/...
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1 answer
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Who was killed in the sentence below?

From Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities: The highwayman in the dark was a City tradesman in the light, and, being recognised and challenged by his fellow-tradesman whom he stopped in his ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Meaning of 'yellow down' in the sentence

The others looked at me, I know for sure, with more envy than fear, and I even suspected one of them was going to tell on me to my dad. Was I doing the right thing? But there was no time for ...
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1 vote
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What does “it” refer to in this song by Kensington?

To what does ‘it’ refer in "Part of Me" by Kensington? What is "a part of me"? It is a part of me And it breaks my heart to see I was a part of you When no one else could be
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1 vote
1 answer
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What does “watermarked the moon” mean?

The English lyrics of the song "A Requiem for Innocence", composed by Gao, from the soundtrack of the 2018 video game The House in Fata Morgana: A Requiem for Innocence, include the line “...
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5 votes
2 answers
260 views

Meaning of "enabled of the eye" in a poem by Dickinson

A little road not made of man, Enabled of the eye, Accessible to thill of bee, Or cart of butterfly. If town it have, beyond itself, 'T is that I cannot say; I only sigh, — no vehicle Bears me along ...
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12 votes
2 answers
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Meaning of "none so poor to do him reverence" in Shakespeare's "Julius Cæsar"

I am wondering about the meaning of the word "poor" in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 2: Antony But yesterday the word of Caesar might Have stood against the world; now lies he ...
-2 votes
1 answer
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What does PO stand for in this context? [closed]

The man is a former inmate and is looking for a room to rent. The woman asks him: -So, is this through you PO? -No, ma'am. I don't have a PO. I was exonerated of my charges. What does PO stand for?
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1 answer
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What did John Chrysostom mean by "evil intreated"?

The following line from an old translation of John Chrysostom's Homily 14 on Romans is rather perplexing: It [creation] was evil intreated for your sake, and became corruptible; yet it has had no ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What did Camus mean by "the odd vegetation of those distant regions" in "The Myth of Sisyphus"?

In his essay 'The Myth of Sisyphus', Albert Camus considers suicide, the "one truly serious philosophical problem", and asks, "is there a logic to the point of death?" Then he ...
3 votes
1 answer
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Who is the "Lady of Light" in "Speak Now for Peace" by Vachel Lindsay?

In the poem "Speak Now for Peace" by Vachel Lindsay, we hear an appeal to the "Lady of Light". Is this simply a reference to Jane Addams, a peace activist in the early 20th ...
1 vote
2 answers
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Meaning of “the hatter’s art” in Meyrink's "The Golem"

Currently reading The Golem by Gustav Meyrink and have encountered this sentence: “Prokop’s noble specimen of the hatter’s art is tempted to fly away”, said Zwakh, pointing to the musician’s huge ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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What does "as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare for yourself" mean in this passage of Heart of darkness?

In this excerpt from Heart of darkness, by Joseph Conrad, that you can download from Project Gutenberg website, Marlow, the sailor protagonist of the story, is describing his feelings as going up the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What is the meaning of "The first rocket flamed to Heaven"?

From Agatha Christie's 'Peril at End House', Chapter 7 (emphasis mine): Presently we all moved out into the garden to a place overlooking the sea and the harbour. A few chairs had been placed there ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of "only a bird could have got in" in "The Castle"

From "The Castle" by Edwin Muir: Our gates were strong, our walls were thick, So smooth and high, no man could win A foothold there, no clever trick Could take us, have us dead or quick. ...
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1 answer
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What does the term "worthy man but not poetical manly prose but not romance " mean?

Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit, Chapter 24 'Mr F. was so devoted to me that he never could bear me out of his sight,’ said Flora, ‘though of course I am unable to say how long that might have lasted ...
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1 answer
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What does "series of coughs" mean?

Little Dorrit received a call that same evening from Mr Plornish, who, having intimated that he wished to speak to her privately, in a series of coughs so very noticeable as to favour the idea that ...
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14 votes
1 answer
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How does soap undermine the church in "A Connecticut Yankee"?

In Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, in the chapter "Morgan Le Fay", the main character explains that he makes the knights have signs for "Persimmon's Soap" ...
1 vote
1 answer
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Help understanding this Arcadia abstract referencing "Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life (1998) and its filmic adaptation Arrival (2016)"

Israel Noletto and Sebastião Lopes's June 1, 2019 Heptapod B and the Paradox of Foreknowledge: Confronting Literature and its Filmic Adaptation in Arcadia is already challenging for me to read and ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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What does Tennyson mean by "the rustic cackle ... [is] the murmur of the world"?

I am finding the following lines from Tennyson's Idylls of the King quite perplexing: A thousand pips eat up your sparrow-hawk! Tits, wrens, and all wing'd nothings peck him dead! Ye think the rustic ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of 'pelted clover' and 'gorged pastures' in Louise Glück poem?

What do 'pelted clover' and 'gorged pastures' mean in the following poem by Louise Glück? Clover leaves that are being thrown? A pasture land with a pathway in the middle? Labor Day Requiring ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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What is the meaning of "uninsured" in this paragraph?

From Upstate by James Wood: Logically, Nagel was impeccable: if nothing matters, then indeed nothing matters at all, including one’s despair about the fact that nothing matters. But all the same! – ...
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3 votes
1 answer
55 views

What does the "who has not dined with these?" mean?

This is from Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit, Chapter 16: The expressionless uniform twenty houses, all to be knocked at and rung at in the same form, all approachable by the same dull steps, all ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Translation of a phrase in Julius Pollux's "Onomasticon"

Could anyone provide a translation of "τὸ δὲ συναμφότερον φάτνας. καὶ σύμπας μὲν ὁ τῶν ὀδόντων στοῖχος φραγμὸς ὀνομάζεταi" from the Onomasticon by Julius Pollux (2.93)? I'm particularly ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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What does "Pulled-up" mean in the Lawrence Joseph poem Rubaiyat?

Here part of the poem "Rubaiyat" by Lawrence Joseph: The holes burned in the night. Holes you can look through and see the stump of a leg, a bloody bandage, flies on the gauze; a pulled-up ...
8 votes
1 answer
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What is meant by "I'm going to push my stuff in" in Dorothy Sayers's "Strong Poison"?

At the beginning of Chapter III of Dorothy Sayers' Strong Poison, Waffles Newton says "Look here, old man, I'm going to push my stuff in. Will you let me know what happens?" What is meant ...
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Why doesn't the author use quote marks here to signal imagination?

I’m reading the short story “The ticket” in the magazine “Prism International”, written by Emil A. Draitser. It’s a story about a boy named Roma, who wants others stop looking him as a baby. (Link - ...
2 votes
1 answer
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What does "excelled the exploits" mean in this context?

Reading the epilogue to Book 10 of the First Decade written in 1511 by Peter Martyr D'Anghiera, I came across this passage: Let us now return to the new countries, from which we have wandered. These ...
3 votes
2 answers
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What does "Oaths are made to catch gulls with" mean?

In The Phantom of the Opera, Erik uses a strange phrase when speaking to the Persian, saying that oaths are useless: "Erik," I asked, "Erik, swear that..." "What?" he ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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What does "just look" mean in Judged?

In Judged by Ziyad Marar, the author was discussing why it's harder for women to be both nice and in control, the twin pillars of good reputaion: It turns out that while the blend of being nice and ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Explanation of “The faculty for myth is innate in the human race.”

I am reading The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham and am finding it difficult to understand the meaning of this highlighted phrase. The faculty for myth is innate in the human race. It seizes ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
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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
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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 ...
2 votes
0 answers
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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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
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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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
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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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