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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111 views

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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1answer
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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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65 views

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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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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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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Meaning of "It isn't a bit hotter here than in Mrs. Van Osburgh's conservatory—and some of the women are not a bit uglier"

On page 2 in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, Lily Bart has missed the three-fifteen train to Rhinebeck when she meets Mr Seldon: "What luck!" she repeated. "How nice of you to come ...
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What does this paragraph mean in Dickens' American Notes?

I came across the following paragraph in Dickens' American Notes: I have made no reference to my reception, nor have I suffered it to influence me in what I have written; for, in either case, I ...
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What is the "wash" for which Charles Lyell paid 4 shillings and sixpence?

In Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, volume 2, Darwin's friend Charles Lyell wrote in a letter to him (dated 3rd October 1859): You enclose your sheets in old MS., so the Post Office very properly ...
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What do "Joggleberry", "celestial limit" and "pink penultimate" mean in "The Power-House"?

I have a question about a passage in The Power-House by John Buchan. In Chapter 1, "Beginning of the Wild-Goose Chase", Tommy Deloraine says to Leithen, the narrator: “This about finishes ...
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What does "a stroke a hole" refer to in "The Thirty-Nine Steps"?

I have a question about a passage in The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. In Chapter 10, "Various Parties Converging on the Sea", Richard Hannay watches two people playing tennis, after ...
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Meaning of: "the photographic views, the spyglasses you look at them" in 'Five Children and It'

In chapter 8, E. Nesbit said: Bill was a man who knew his business. In a very little while, the photographic views, the spyglasses you look at them through so that they really seem rather real, and ...
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What does "I were about to set off for the centre of the earth" mean here

This excerpt is from Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. After this I got embraced, told to wear flannel, be sure to write often, and so on—and I left. In the street—I don’t know why—a queer feeling ...
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Meaning of "down here after measles, as likely as not!" in 'Five Children and It'

In chapter 1, E.Nesbit said: "Hungry! I should think so," said Martha angrily; "out all day like this. Well, I hope it'll be a lesson to you not to go picking up with strange children —...
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Meaning of "raise his wrist", "his skipping turns", "smile of a tender complicity", "Vicki was glassy", and "In their linked, three-way posture..."

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Athena worked her way forward as far as the front row of non-dancers. She was blasted by noise but fired with curiosity. She could not tell ...
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Meaning of "He's soft, ain't he? Them giants mostly is" in "Five Children and It"

From Five Children and It by E. Nesbit: 'What'll you take for him?' she said excitedly. 'Anything in reason. We'd have a special van built—leastways, I know where there's a second-hand one would do ...
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Meaning of "I'm glad it was only wings, though. I'd rather see the birds as aren't there..."

Me and my friend finished translating Five Children and It. This is one of the paragraphs we had a problem with, in Chapter 4 (The Wings): "Well, from this day forth I'll be a better man. It's ...
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"Which dreams, indeed, are ambition" in Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2

I am reading Hamlet; Act 2 Scene 2 contains the following exchange: Hamlet: O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams. ...
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Meaning of "I've made my reputation as a strong woman. I reckon I’ve earned the right to a..."

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner: Vicki spent an hour getting herself ready. She tied a diaphanous scarf round her head, stuck a yellow rose in it, and put a lot of makeup on ...
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Nietzsche: It is improbable that you are not mistaken: double negative

In Beyond Good and Evil, chapter 1, #16, Nietzsche is criticizing idealism, and he says: He who ventures to answer these metaphysical questions at once by an appeal to a sort of intuitive perception, ...
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Why does Hamlet say "Rest is silence"? [duplicate]

Why does the Shakespearean protagonist Hamlet say, "Rest is silence."? Does he say it because he lost his biological dad who had poison in his ear poured by his evil uncle, lost mom, ...
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Meaning of “City Lites”

I'm reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty. One of the sections is titled: "City Lites" The first thing that comes to my mind is Charlie Chaplin's famous movie. But what else can be understood ...
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What do "Free Trader" and "Protection in the Colonies" refer to in "The Thirty-Nine Steps"?

I have a question about a passage in The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. In Chapter 4, "The adventure of the radical candidate", Richard Hannay meets Sir Harry, who says: “Now you’ve got ...
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1answer
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What does "what the morrow may not bring forth" mean?

In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, a man was talking to a detective in a bar: “Don’t forget, Mr. Blick—though a gentleman of your ability and experience needs no reminding of it, I’m ...
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Meaning of "are they worth it? It was a secret showing of badges, of scars"

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner They sat in the high seats at the back of the bus, and Poppy sank into her book. Up at the front sat a European woman in her forties, dressed ...
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697 views

What is a "roomy heart"?

There's a phrase in "Alms-Giving" that I'm confused about. First, here's the original, untranslated text: Wel bið þam eorle      þe him on innan hafað, reþehygdig wer,      rume heortan; ...
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What do "Things were buzzing" and "school swot. Swat, get it?" mean?

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Poppy went into her bedroom and put on the uniform. She did this at least once a day, to practise getting used to it, and because she could ...
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109 views

What does "It was like saying goodbye to a statue" mean in the ending to "A Farewell to Arms"?

What does Hemingway mean by this line at the end of A Farewell to Arms? “It was like saying goodbye to a statue”
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Meaning of "Illimba", "mani" and "acuminus" in "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy?

I'm reading The God of Small Things, a novel by Keralan author Arundhati Roy. She masterfully plays with words, sometimes transforming them, mimicking the way a seven year old would (the main ...
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1answer
150 views

What does the poem "Philosophy" by Nissim Ezekiel mean?

Here is the poem "Philosophy" by Nissim Ezekiel. What do the parts in bold mean? There is a place to which I often go, Not by planning to, but by a flow Away from all existence, to a cold ...
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159 views

What does the final stanza of "Thrushes" by Ted Hughes mean?

Here is the third stanza of "Thrushes" by Ted Hughes: With a man it is otherwise. Heroisms on horseback, Outstripping his desk-diary at a broad desk, Carving at a tiny ivory ornament For ...
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What did Robert Frost mean in his April 7 1926 letter to B.F. Skinner?

What does Frost mean by "Stevenson's in favor [...] consumptive"? "Hardy's against God for the blunder of sex"? "Sinclair Lewis's against small American towns"? "...
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What does "surface difficulty" mean here in "The Markenmore Mystery"?

In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, a detective was answering his companion after the latter asked about how to find a mysterious man, whose identity was unknown for them But now, my ...
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How could the current bear the coracle southward, if the current was northwards earlier?

In R.L. Stevenson's Treasure Island's chapter "Cruise of the Coracle", Jim sails northward (due to northward current) from Haulbowline Head past the the Cape of the Woods and that is when he ...

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