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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
2 votes
2 answers
54 views

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 ...
user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
2k views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 123
6 votes
2 answers
948 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 161
6 votes
2 answers
470 views

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, ...
user avatar
  • 147
3 votes
2 answers
1k views

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?
user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
653 views

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 ...
user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
81 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 3,697
4 votes
1 answer
496 views

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 ...
user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
39 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 21
2 votes
1 answer
85 views

"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, ...
user avatar
  • 123
24 votes
4 answers
8k views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 2,657
6 votes
1 answer
261 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 63
5 votes
1 answer
86 views

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 ...
user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
51 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 13
5 votes
1 answer
539 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 1,117
2 votes
1 answer
96 views

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. ...
user avatar
  • 3,697
3 votes
1 answer
904 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 ...
user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
125 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 19.2k
4 votes
1 answer
284 views

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 ...
user avatar
20 votes
5 answers
5k views

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 ...
user avatar
5 votes
0 answers
78 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 151
3 votes
3 answers
1k views

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 ...
user avatar
-2 votes
1 answer
53 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 3,697
0 votes
1 answer
69 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 ...
user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
59 views

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 ...
user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
58 views

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 ...
user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
643 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 ...
user avatar
  • 3,697
1 vote
1 answer
57 views

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 ...
user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
141 views

What is a "red lead firm"?

In George Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying, the protagonist gets a job at a "red lead firm". From context, it seems to mean a well-established, maybe stuffy, firm. I wonder if anyone has ...
user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
238 views

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 ...
user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
392 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 3,697
9 votes
1 answer
861 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 ...
user avatar
  • 3,697
7 votes
3 answers
1k views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 179
4 votes
1 answer
202 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 41
1 vote
1 answer
96 views

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 ...
user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
285 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 ...
user avatar
  • 133
4 votes
1 answer
71 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 3,697
2 votes
2 answers
86 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 463
6 votes
1 answer
3k views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 463
2 votes
1 answer
101 views

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 ...
user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
113 views

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 ...
user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
358 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 3,697
6 votes
3 answers
564 views

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 ...
user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
2k views

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 ...
user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
666 views

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 ...
user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
157 views

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 ...
user avatar
  • 289
5 votes
2 answers
104 views

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 —...
user avatar
-2 votes
1 answer
77 views

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 ...
user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
148 views

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 ...
user avatar

1 2
3
4 5
22