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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I can't understand fiction please help [closed]

I am really struggling to understand fiction books. I've read 1/3 of "Crime and punishment" and found nothing interesting in it so I stopped. I believe that the book is very important as it ...
15 votes
2 answers
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Meaning of Pratchett's quote about coffee from "Thud!"

Terry Pratchett wrote in Thud!: Coffee was only a way of stealing time that should by rights belong to your slightly older self. I am struggling to understand the meaning of it. Is it pro/contra ...
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What does the words ‘redda' 'the taste of babat' 'Kottu Aiya' ‘Kunu kaaraya’ mean?

I am translating its Chinese simplified version, got confused about the following sentences. "those knots were looser than your Amma's redda." What does 'Redda' refers to? "this is why,...
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2 answers
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Hamlet III.IV: "Then what I have to do will want true colour"

In Hamlet Act III Scene IV, Hamlet says to the Ghost, Do not look upon me, lest with this piteous action you convert My stern effects. Then what I have to do Will want true colour; tears perchance ...
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1 answer
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What does it mean for philosophical writing to be great, significant literary works?

British philosopher Nigel Warburton says the same thing in his books. Emboldenings are mine. I know that some French literature syllabi include Camus and Sartre. But at least in English, I have never ...
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2 answers
728 views

Usage of "terrible" and "awful" in The Catcher in the Rye

In the begining paragraph in chapter 3 of The Catcher in the Rye, Here: I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and ...
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1 answer
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Meaning of "At Homes" in Ford Madox Ford's "Parade's End"

What does this paragraph mean in Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End? Nevertheless Macmaster moved in drawing-rooms that, with long curtains, blue china plates, large-patterned wallpapers and large, quiet ...
8 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of "Your pin wad help to mend a mill" in "Address to a Haggis"

From "Address to a Haggis" by Robert Burns: The groaning trencher there ye fill, Your hurdies like a distant hill, Your pin wad help to mend a mill In time o'need, While thro' your pores ...
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2 answers
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Meaning of "one of the shapes money takes when it freezes" in "The Handmaid's Tale"

Here's a paragraph from chapter 14 of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: The sitting room is subdued, symmetrical; it's one of the shapes money takes when it freezes. Money has trickled through ...
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What does the Sanskrit word "abhithiya" mean in the 2022 Booker Prize Winner The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida?

I'm applying to be the Chinese translator of the 2022 Booker Prize Winner The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. The publishing house asks me to undertake a sample translation. While completing the task I ...
4 votes
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Meaning of "starred roof" in "Appointment With Love" by Sulamith Ish-kishor

The following sentence is taken from "Appointment With Love" by Sulamith Ish-kishor. It's a reference to New York's Grand Central Station. I'm wondering why the roof is described as "...
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Meaning of "Coil of things" in "Savitri" by Sri Aurobindo

Here is a passage from the epic poem Savitri by Sri Aurobindo. What does the phrase "coil of things" mean in general and what does it denote here? A mind absolved from life, made calm to ...
9 votes
2 answers
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"sud more likker" - how to parse this?

I recently had a non-native English speaker ask me for help understanding this passage from Wuthering Heights: 'Have you found Heathcliff, you ass?' interrupted Catherine. 'Have you been looking for ...
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Odd joke about Monorchid in Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes

Here, in the following context from Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes, E.F. is talking about "Mono"s, The last bolded sentence about "monorchid" seems to be an odd joke, but I don't ...
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What does "All the air of the fourteenth floor was sibilant with the categorical imperative" mean?

I am reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. The sentence in the question title is mentioned in Chapter two, and here's the full paragraph that contains it. “Silence, silence,” whispered a loud ...
1 vote
1 answer
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"Specializing in someone" in "Elizabeth Finch" By Julian Barnes

What is meant by "specialised in either the unattainable or the undesirable" in the following context from "Elizabeth Finch" by Julian Barnes: ‘EF wasn’t like that. She’d give you ...
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What's the symbolism of the Cid's beard?

The book El "Cantar de Mio Cid" y la épica medieval española by Alan Deyermond, at page 37, mentions el simbolismo de la barba del Cid that is, "the symbolism of the Cid's beard",...
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2 answers
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Meaning of “It takes forty men with their feet on the ground to keep one man with his head in the air" in Small Gods by Terry Pratchett?

I am currently on page 36 of Terry Pratchett's Small Gods. One sentence reads: Kitchens and storerooms and craftsmen's workshops belonging to the Church's civilian population honey- combed the ...
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1 answer
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"Protein suckers attached to the teleology" in Andrew's Brain by E. L. Doctorow

I'm reading Andrew's Brain by E. L. Doctorow. In this paragraph I have some difficulties: I’m just thinking of something I read about the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and bipolar disease. The brain ...
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"if it means that" in "Elizabeth Finch" by Julian Barnes

I'm reading Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes. In this paragraph I have some difficulties: We all pursue what we think is best for us, even if it means our extinction. Sometimes, especially if it ...
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Where/what is "C" in Annie Ernaux's short story "Returns"

A girl is going to visit her mother by train. She mentions Motteville and then she talks about her destination that points to as "C": "I travelled there by train. At Motteville, we sat ...
10 votes
1 answer
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What do these long em dashes and the word inst. mean in Railway Children?

I'm struggling to make sense of the word inst. and the long dashes — in this excerpt from E. Nesbit's The Railway Children. The excerpt is part of a letter that the children receive. The dashes are ...
12 votes
2 answers
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What does "men of straw" refer to in this passage from an Arsène Lupin story?

The story in question is "Le coffre-fort de madame Imbert" or in English "Madame Imbert's Safe". The passage reads, in the translation I've got: For six months, I have worked on ...
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1 answer
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What is meant by "rain drinks the leaves drinking rain" in "Kauai"?

The poem "Kauai" by Rachel Jamison Webster has this verse: Their cups fill with rain, rain drinks the leaves drinking rain. I can sort of puzzle out the metaphors/imagery in the rest of ...
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1 answer
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'My Maiden Brief' by W. S. Gilbert

I'm reading 'My Maiden Brief' by W. S. Gilbert, a short shory about a Victorian British court case, and some parts puzzle me a bit. The story's full of details of British justice and many are easy to ...
4 votes
1 answer
364 views

Meaning of “toning herself off into the married state” in “Little Dorrit”

In book 1, chapter 2 of Little Dorrit (1857), Charles Dickens describes a party of travellers in Marseilles: The rest of the party were of the usual materials: travellers on business, and travellers ...
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1 answer
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Instructive contrast in Elizabeth Finch By Julian Barnes

What is meant by "instructive contrast" in the following context from "Elizabeth Finch" by Julian Barnes: The headline read ‘CRAZY LADY’ PROF CLAIMS ROMAN EMPERORS RUINED OUR SEX ...
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2 answers
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Meaning of "contrast of her extraction to this girl's and mine" in "Little Dorrit"

In chapter 27 of Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, Miss Wade dismisses her visitors Mr Meagles and Arthur Clennam, who have failed to persuade Harriet Beadle ("Tattycoram") to return to her ...
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Slang way of writing in "The Sellout" by Paul Beatty

I'm reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty. In the following paragraph, the last sentence is written in slang: "Buckwheat, I dun tol’ yo’ pappy, I ain’t takin’ care uh nun ob hiz odder chil’ren!"...
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3 answers
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Meaning of "nobody seemed to be giving the dinners they had gone to" in "Little Dorrit"

The following paragraph is from Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, Chapter 27. It was now summer-time; a grey, hot, dusty evening. They rode to the top of Oxford Street, and there alighting, dived in ...
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"Stupid fluttering motherfuckers" in "The Sellout" by Paul Beatty

I'm reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty. In this paragraph I have some difficulties in the following paragraph: we’re the black moths in that classic evolution photo, clinging to the dark, soot-...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of "thumb-sucking charges" in The Sellout by Paul Beatty

I'm reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty. In this paragraph I can't understand the meaning of "thumb-sucking charges" in this paragraph: Ample bosoms first, she hops the rail, bogarts her way ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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What are the "dead Easter chicks" in "Just Before the War with the Eskimos?"

In J. D. Salinger's short story "Just Before the War with the Eskimos," a character reveals that: A few years before it had taken her three days to dispose of the Easter chick she had found ...
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1 answer
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Meaning of "timing ones run and sprinting" in "The Sellout" by Paul Beatty

I'm reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty. In this paragraph I have some difficulties: Facing north, I timed my run and sprinted between a speeding Maserati and two teenagers in a birthday BMW ...
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1 answer
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What does "Ideal boiler" mean in Christie's After the Funeral?

In the book After the funeral by Agatha Christie, there is a passage when the Dr informs Susan of poison to Miss Gilchrist. During their search for the wedding cake, the Dr asks Susan where the ...
4 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of "get it taken out of them" in "After the Funeral"

In the novel After the Funeral by Agatha Christie, the lawyer Mr Entwhistle visits Susan after her Aunt Cora's death. “Miss Gilchrist is quite a sensible woman, I should say. Besides,” added the ...
2 votes
1 answer
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What is the "theoretical" side of love in "Elizabeth Finch" by Julian Barnes?

I'm reading Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes. In this paragraph I have some difficulties: What is "theoretical" side of love? Is it related to being "conscious" in loving someone? ...
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What did Mr Waterby's definition of "genius" mean?

I’m reading “The Set of Poe”, a 1903 short story by George Ade. The context: Mr. Waterby wanted to buy a set of Poe, but his wife didn’t like that idea and advised him not to buy. He were upset and ...
3 votes
1 answer
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What does this line from the play The Rover mean?

It is the day of the Carnival, and Belville and Willmore have just met a pair of gypsies (who are actually regular women named Florinda and Hellena in disguise). Willmore, who is an unapologetic ...
2 votes
2 answers
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Meaning of "I'm like melted ice cream" in milet's "jam"

From milet's song "jam" (2022): Driving in the summer with your 80's playlist I wish this night would never end like kissing in the backseat Hey, don't be shy, now I'm like melted ice cream ...
1 vote
1 answer
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Meaning of "through the smoky air."

I'm currently reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. He has a sentence describing the situation and character of Mrs. Wilson: she seemed to be revolving on a noisy, creaking pivot through ...
6 votes
1 answer
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What do these two lines in Lewis Carroll's "All in the golden afternoon..." mean?

The poem, a preface to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, begins as follows: All in the golden afternoon Full leisurely we glide; For both our oars, with little skill, By little arms are plied, ...
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What does 'levee' mean in the Three Musketeers?

What does "levees" mean in this paragraph quoted from The Three Musketeers (chapeter II, Penguin, translated by Richard Pevear)? Checked dictionaries and googled but I am still confused. ...
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1 answer
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What is the meaning of this phrase in the "Battle Hymn of the Republic"?

The "Battle Hymn of the Republic" contains the following lines: I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel: "As ye deal with my contemners, so my grace shall with you ...
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9 votes
2 answers
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In "Love Among the Ruins", what is 'a carpet'?

The poem "Love Among the Ruins" by Robert Browning starts like this in its third verse: And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass Never was! Such a carpet as, this summer-time, o'er-...
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Meaning of "Knowing them, that’ll mean at least a year" in "Elizabeth Finch" by Julian Barnes

From Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes: A few days later Christopher rang up. "She made her will eighteen years ago. No codicils. A simple probate, the solicitor assures me. Knowing them, that’ll ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What is "epic caesura" in French "chansons de geste"?

I'm reading the book La chanson de geste by Jean Rychner. In a certain passage, the expression "epic caesura" ("césure épique" in the French original) appears, which I don't ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of "lovers" in Hector's monologue in the "Iliad"

In the twenty-second book of the Iliad, where we see the inner monologue of Hector before fighting against Achilles, there is this interesting metaphor(?) which I couldn't give a nice explanation to: ...
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0 votes
1 answer
31 views

''Blotches of diseased, evil gray ...''

''Blotches of diseased, evil gray come and go on my surface, as though light is being beamed from within.'' What does "gray" mean in this sentence? It's from a short story called ''I Have ...
8 votes
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Meaning of a stage direction in "Remember Caesar" by Josephine Tey

The opening stage direction in the play Remember Caesar by Josephine Tey (writing as "Gordon Daviot") includes the paragraphs: LORD WESTON is seated by the fireplace, a table of books and ...

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