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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2 votes
2 answers
138 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 ...
8 votes
2 answers
1k views

What do the letters G and D mean in "The Trout" by Sean O'Faolain?

In the story "The Trout", there are two letters that I want to know what they mean. One of the first places Julia always ran to when they arrived in G--- was The Dark Walk. It is a laurel ...
6 votes
2 answers
1k views

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 ...
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 ...
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

What does "invention comes from my pate as birdlime does from frize" mean in "Othello"?

From Othello II.1.125–130: Iago: ... my invention Comes from my pate as birdlime does from frize, It plucks out brains and all. But my muse labours, And thus she is deliver'd: If she be fair and wise,...
2 votes
0 answers
28 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 ...
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 ...
3 votes
2 answers
284 views

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 ...
10 votes
1 answer
780 views

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
103 views

What kind of jeans are Sears Rough Riders?

I'm reading Kristin Hannah's Firefly Lane. There's a scene when Kate (one of two main characters) saw Tully (the other main character) wearing fashionable elephant bells and wished her jeans weren't ...
8 votes
4 answers
4k views

What does "ceremony of innocence" mean In "The Second Coming"?

The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats: Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The ...
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 ...
4 votes
3 answers
223 views

What is a Pehliva?

The word "Pehliva" is used several times in the third part of the Shahnameh (Helen Zimmern translation), particularly to refer to Sam/Saum, apparently a ruler in Seistan (which I thought ...
16 votes
3 answers
2k views

Meaning of "bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur-nuk!"

From Finnegans Wake, What is the meaning of this word? In context: The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur- nuk!) of a once ...
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, ...
6 votes
1 answer
5k views

Understanding the plotline of “The Smile” by Ted Hughes

I'm reading Ted Hughes' "The Smile" (text version), and I'm trying to understand its plotline. More specifically: what's the nature of the scenes wherein the poem's protagonist, the smile, ...
15 votes
4 answers
6k views

What does this quote from The Great Gatsby mean?

Here's the quote: My commutation ticket came back to me with a dark stain from his hand. That any one should care in this heat whose flushed lips he kissed, whose head made damp the pajama ...
17 votes
5 answers
31k views

The meaning of "The rest is silence" in "Hamlet"

Hamlet's very last words are The rest is silence. What do they actually mean? This being Shakespeare, I reckon the significance of these words cannot be only the banal comparison between death and ...
2 votes
1 answer
52 views

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 ...
4 votes
1 answer
336 views

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 ...
3 votes
2 answers
299 views

Why is wolf's bane "tight-rooted" in Keats' "Ode on Melancholy"?

In Keats's 'Ode on Melancholy', he writes neither twist Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine; Why did Keats choose to describe Wolf's-bane as "tight-rooted"?
4 votes
3 answers
191 views

What is the meaning of "editorial novelist" and "literary dude"?

What is an “editorial novelist”? What do “dude” and “literary dude” mean in the following passages? All are mentioned in the New Yorker article “Easy Writers” by Arthur Krystal (21 May 2012): ...
3 votes
2 answers
152 views

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. ...
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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
102 views

"You have to take pains so the goods won't go off" from The Witcher

I am reading The Witcher - The Tower of Swallow in English and I would like to know what the following phrase means: He ordered the people who had gathered to bring him a sack of salt and a keg of ...
5 votes
2 answers
229 views

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 ...
9 votes
1 answer
546 views

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 ...
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
69 views

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 ...
7 votes
1 answer
614 views

What is "negative" and "positive whiteness" in "The Dagger with Wings"?

In "The Dagger with Wings" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing the falling of snow,that appeared through a barely opened door, saying: What he had seen shining through the crack was not ...
2 votes
0 answers
31 views

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 ...
4 votes
1 answer
93 views

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 ...
6 votes
1 answer
4k views

What are "abortive sorrows" and "short-winded elations" in "The Great Gatsby"?

From chapter 1 of The Great Gatsby: No — Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my ...
3 votes
1 answer
75 views

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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
53 views

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 ...
1 vote
0 answers
39 views

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?
0 votes
1 answer
94 views

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 ...
9 votes
1 answer
208 views

Meaning of "I shut my tongue against my fly"

From Aurora Leigh: Poor child! I would have mended it with gold, Until it gleamed like St. Sophia's dome When all the faithful troop to morning prayer: But he, he nipped the bud of such a ...
10 votes
1 answer
255 views

What does "minds her helium like a lady" mean in "The Terrible Voyage of the Toad"?

I have the following passage from 'The Terrible Voyage of the Toad' (1878) by Edward Page Mitchell: "Without intendin' to disperidge," continued the deacon, "her bottom's more putty'n timber." ...
4 votes
1 answer
192 views

What are "rubber notations" in "The Just Men of Cordova"?

In chapter 2 of The Just Men of Cordova by Edgar Wallace, the author was describing a business man in London: His was a name to conjure with in certain circles. In others it was never mentioned. The ...
1 vote
3 answers
89 views

Meaning of "Air rushed over the ground like a flood of water at blood temperature"

This text is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner She made him, and dragged him away across the grass. They turned a corner, rounded a thick hedge, and the wind hit them. He stopped struggling. ...
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
82 views

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 ...
1 vote
0 answers
30 views

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 ...
5 votes
2 answers
156 views

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 ...
8 votes
2 answers
147 views

What does it mean to "floor peculiarities parabolous" in conics, from The Pirates of Penzance?

In his song in The Pirates of Penzance, the Major-General states that he can "floor peculiarities parabolous," and do it "in conics." I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's; I ...
5 votes
1 answer
83 views

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. ...
11 votes
3 answers
2k views

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 ...
7 votes
2 answers
1k views

Meaning of "shade to shade" in Keats' "Ode on Melancholy"

In "Ode on Melancholy," Keats writes For shade to shade will come too drowsily, And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul What is meant by "shade to shade will come too drowsily"?
3 votes
1 answer
54 views

Where is the object in this clause in Byron's Don Juan?

From Byron's Don Juan: But those who scaled, found out that their advance Was favour'd by an accident or blunder: The Greek or Turkish Cohorn's ignorance Had palisado'd in a way you'd ...

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