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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27 views

What's the meaning of "Hassan milled about the periphery of my life"?

From The Kite Runner: Hassan milled about the periphery of my life after that. I made sure our paths crossed as little as possible, planned my day that way. Because when he was around, the oxygen ...
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What is meant by "descent of their last end"?

What does "the descent of their last end" mean in James Joyce's The Dead? His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the ...
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What does "FACIT" mean in D. J. Enright's "The Typewriter Revolution"?

D. J. Enright's poem "The Typewriter Revolution" (1971) is a text in which a typewriter appears to revolt against its owner (?), resulting in the distortion of texts and literary allusions. ...
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What does Browning's patriot mean by "Paid by the world, what dost thou owe"?

In the sixth stanza of the poem "The Patriot" by Robert Browning, what do the last three lines mean? “Paid by the world, what dost thou owe “Me?”—God might question; now instead, ‘Tis God ...
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Who are the “men of the west” who eat clay in “Aurora Leigh”?

In Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora's cousin Romney Leigh complains about the character of the times: We’re too materialistic,—eating clay, (Like men of the west) instead of ...
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What does this passage mean from Burroughs' "Naked Lunch"?

In the opening chapter of Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs, the first-person narrator is telling a story to an "advertising exec type fruit" on the New York subway, and in the middle of ...
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Why is Romney’s pattern “on his nail” in “Aurora Leigh”?

In Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the character Romney Leigh has a “pattern on his nail”: To think,—I have a pattern on my nail, And I will carve the world new after it, And solve ...
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Meaning of H. L. Mencken quote "One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms"

H. L. Mencken quoted "One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms." The other half of it is It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent." Is that an idiom?...
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What does Regan mean by "square of sense" in King Lear?

The exact meaning of the following phrase in bold is not clear to me. In the first scene of King Lear, Regan utters these words to her father with flattery. I'm not sure but I think I read somewhere ...
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What does the word "seem" mean in these lines of Shakespeare?

In Shakespeare's Othello 3.1.26, the Clown answers Cassio: She is stirring, sir; if she will stir hither, I shall seem to notify unto her. where the verb "seem" makes me confused. The ...
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What does "Some people do the same by their religion" mean?

It says in Great Expectations Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than dirt itself. Cleanliness is next to ...
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What's the meaning of "narrow" in "a narrow pretty greyhound of a woman"?

The following is a sentence from The Tunnel, or The News from Spain by Joan Wickersham. Rebecca sees the wife around Cambridge, a narrow pretty greyhound of a woman, with a face that is at once ...
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What does "nada y pues nada" mean in Ernest Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"?

I am not looking for a direct translation, but rather how this passage fits into the story as a whole. It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. Some lived in it ...
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How to understand “a dumb or a talking brute” in The Ransom of Red Chief?

But I glanced at Bill, and hesitated. He had the most appealing look in his eyes I ever saw on the face of a dumb or a talking brute. The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry The word “brute” has several ...
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What do these two segments mean in Milton's "On Shakespeare"?

I find two amphibolous segments in Milton's poem "On Shakespeare" when translating into Chinese, and thus need some help. In first stanza What needs my Shakespeare for his honored bones, ...
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What does, "‘Much of that!’ said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat. ‘I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!'" mean?

It says in Great Expectations, ‘Much of that!’ said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat. ‘I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!’ What does this mean/imply?
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What does "...they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets..." from mean?

It says in Great Expectations, To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little ...
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What does "keep up to the mark" mean in this letter from Darwin to Hooker?

In LIFE AND LETTERS OF CHARLES DARWIN Volume 2, Darwin was writing a letter to his friend about finishing the revision of his own book: Congratulate me, for I have finished the last revise of the ...
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What does "a sort of Hercules in strength and weakness" mean?

It says in Great Expectations, Joe was a fair man, with curls of flaxen hair on each side of his smooth face, and with eyes of such a very undecided blue that they seemed to have somehow got mixed ...
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Can anyone explain this quote by Oscar Wilde: 'Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming...that is all' [duplicate]

Full quote: Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these ...
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"Forever unfulfillable, yet him fulfilling who hears it, utterly"

This is from the play Amadeus by Peter Shaffer: "What?! What is this? Tell me, Signore! What is this pain? What is this need in the sound? Forever unfulfillable, yet him fulfilling who hears it, ...
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What is a Daniel?

In Chapter Three of The Scarlet Letter we find the following as a response to a question of who the father of Hester’s child is: Of a truth, friend, that matter remaineth a riddle; and the Daniel who ...
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What is the meaning of "I was living my own metaphor"?

I just started reading the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. In the foreword, the author is talking about how no one was buying his book. He writes, But I never lost faith in the book or ever ...
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What did Fitzgerald mean by "making a great mystery about pulling rusty wires"?

In F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise, chapter 1 it is written: Children adored him because he was like a child; youth revelled in his company because he was still a youth, and couldn't be ...
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365 views

What is "the Saar" in The Last Lesson?

In The Last Lesson, written by Alphonse Daudet, there is this paragraph: My last French lesson! Why, I hardly knew how to write! I should never learn any more! I must stop there, then! Oh, how sorry ...
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Meaning of "drew the lower jaw in" from "To Build A Fire"

In the story "To Build a Fire" by Jack London, there is a line which I find too complex to interpret. After some manipulation he managed to get the bunch between the heels of his mittened ...
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Use of 'city' in Byron's poem "Darkness"

In his poem "Darkness", Lord Byron writes: [...] The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two Of an enormous city did survive, And they were enemies: they met beside [...] Is Byron employing ...
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What did Bentham mean by "outworks" in an address to the Linnean Society?

In Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, volume 2, the editor was talking about Mr. Bentham: [The next letter refers to Mr. Bentham's presidential address to the Linnean Society (May 25, 1863). Mr. ...
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1answer
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John Agard's "In Times of Peace"

As for eyes, are eyes ready for the soft dance of a butterfly's bootless invasion? From "In times of peace" by John Agard. What could this mean? I have been thinking that it could reflect ...
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What is Azrael's quote at the end of "Reaper Man" supposed to mean?

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett, part of the Discworld universe, leaves off like this: Picture a tall, dark figure, surrounded by cornfields... NO, YOU CAN'T RIDE A CAT. WHO EVER HEARD OF THE DEATH OF ...
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What did Hemingway mean by "the setting of the sun is a difficult time for all fish"?

In Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, the Old Man has hooked a huge marlin, which is pulling his boat out to sea. Meanwhile, using another line, he has caught a "dolphin" (meaning a ...
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Meaning of 'Yawl write, hear?'

I am currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. In chapter 6 there is a sentence by Dill. Before leaving, he says 'Yawl write, hear? What does this sentence mean? Does it mean that they ...
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Brideshead Revisited: Prince Rupert’s Horse

Hooper, in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, was no romantic. He had not as a child ridden with Rupert's horse or sat among the camp fires at Xanthus-side; at the age when my eyes were dry to all ...
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Meaning of "She impressed me neither favorably nor the reverse."

I'm reading "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" by Arthur Conan Doyle. I came across this sentence by the character Violet Hunter: Mrs. Rucastle seemed to me to be colorless in mind as ...
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What's based here on studying domestic variation?

Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, volume 2 includes the following letter from Darwin to Asa Gray, written about a review of his new book: I have been rather extra busy, so have been slack in ...
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Meaning of "trembling fantasies"

Athena woke at six o’clock in the morning. Philip was not there, nor had he been. The room was full of heavy, dark pieces of furniture. The impression that her presence made on the room was so slight ...
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Meaning of "Her say said" in "This Side of Paradise"?

In Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise, we have this passage: MRS. CONNAGE: The poor boy looks so miserable every time he comes. ROSALIND: That was one of those romantic, pre-battle affairs. They’re ...
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Meaning of "You never came and you never went" in Eudora Welty's "A Visit of Charity"

I can't understand what the sentence "You never came and you never went" is related to. Does it clarify the previous utterance or is it a new thought which says that the person has never ...
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632 views

What does "remote in scale" mean here?

Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, volume 2 includes the following letter from Darwin to Charles Lyell, written about a review of his new book: P.S.—I must tell you one little fact which has pleased ...
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Meaning of "Its surfaces were dull with the absence of meaning."

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner The sisters glanced at each other over Dexter’s head. Elizabeth laid one hand over her heart and raised the other in a gesture of tremendous ...
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What are the "unknown land" and "eye of faith" in "Our Casuarina Tree"?

In the poem "Our Casuarina Tree" by Toru Dutt, between stanzas 3 & 4, there are the following 2 lines: That haply to the unknown land may reach. Unknown, yet well-known to the eye of ...
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What did Darwin mean by "approximately the line of Behring's Straits"?

Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, volume 2 includes the following letter from Darwin to Charles Lyell, written about the migration of species, and the two sides of Behring's Strait: It may be sheer ...
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840 views

What does "epesthai to logo" mean in this letter from Charles Kingsley to Charles Darwin?

Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, volume 2 includes the following letter to Darwin from Charles Kingsley, written shortly after the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859: [With regard to the ...
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Romeo and Juliet: Why is honey loathsome in its deliciousness?

Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 6: ...The sweetest honey Is loathsome in its own deliciousness. And in the taste confounds the appetite Most interpretations online seem to suggest that honey is bad for ...
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Paragraph from Wuthering Heights: "Yesterday afternoon set in misty and cold..."

Wuthering Heights, beginning of chapter 2. Yesterday afternoon set in misty and cold. I had half a mind to spend it by my study fire, instead of wading through heath and mud to Wuthering Heights. On ...
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Meaning of "visions of meadows" and "along which her disembodied consciousness progresses to a stately pulse."

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner The edifice trembles. Athena stops eating, though she still buys food and prepares it. Her clothes hang off her, but her husband’s and her ...
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What does "Yira" mean in "Yira, Yira" by Carlos Gardel?

In the song Yira, Yira by Carlos Gardel (which was also later performed by Los Piojos) I am curious about the phrase, well, "Yira, Yira" (full lyrics). I couldn't find the definition in many ...
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1answer
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What did Adam Sedgwick mean by "tra-road"?

In Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, volume 2, Darwin's friend Adam Sedgwick wrote in a letter to him (dated 24th December 1859) about his then new book The Origin of Species: Parts of it I admired ...
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Is Von Bork's "I've been there" the idiomatic expression here, in "His Last Bow"?

I’d like to ask about the sentence from His Last Bow by Conan Doyle. “.. It was on my first arrival. I was invited to a week-end gathering at the country house of a cabinet minister. The conversation ...
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What does "more than I gave" mean in "I therefore named a price which was £500 more than I gave"?

I’d like to ask about the sentence from The Three Gables by Conan Doyle. .. but naturally I was interested in what he said. I therefore named a price which was £500 more than I gave. Here I’m not ...

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