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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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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3 votes
2 answers
382 views

"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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1 vote
1 answer
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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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4 votes
1 answer
158 views

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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0 votes
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31 views

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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5 votes
2 answers
112 views

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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1 vote
1 answer
52 views

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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9 votes
1 answer
712 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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5 votes
1 answer
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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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1 vote
1 answer
169 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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6 votes
0 answers
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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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3 votes
1 answer
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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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5 votes
1 answer
259 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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3 votes
1 answer
91 views

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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2 votes
1 answer
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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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7 votes
1 answer
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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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2 votes
1 answer
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What was the question which the Baudelaire orphans were asking themselves?

I was reading the last chapter of The Penultimate Peril, by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), and when I reached the end of that chapter, I couldn't understand what was the question which the ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of "Lor’ lumme if there ain’t another on ’em!" from "Five Children and It"

This excerpt is from Five Children and It, Chapter 2. “She’s not mad; it’s true,” said Anthea; “there is a fairy. If I ever see him again I’ll wish for something for you; at least I would if ...
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1 vote
1 answer
61 views

Meaning of "curving afternoons" and "the idea of destination meant almost as little to him as..."

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner He would have liked to move around her house and examine all its icons, or to hang over the front windowsill with her and make remarks about ...
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4 votes
1 answer
150 views

What did Edmund Gosse mean by “servers of pillows to all armholes”?

In a 1907 letter to Walt Whitman’s biographer Bliss Perry, Edmund Gosse wrote: I came across your really delightful volume on Walt Whitman,† and read it with such pleasure that I had to review it ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What does “world outlook” mean in this context?

Under these baffling conditions there is no thorough discussion of the world outlook whatever, anywhere. —The New World Order, by H.G. Wells I interpret the "world outlook" as "world ...
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1 answer
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meaning of "they blurred into one another and were gone"

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner How fresh and pretty he looked, sitting at her piano in his clean white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and the top button fastened! She said,...
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6 votes
1 answer
243 views

What is the meaning of "pools of gold" in "Nineteen Eighty-Four"?

From the beginning of part 2, chapter 2: Winston picked his way up the lane through dappled light and shade, stepping out into pools of gold wherever the boughs parted. Under the trees to the left of ...
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7 votes
3 answers
815 views

What is the difference in pronunciation between the two types of folio abbreviations: f. and ff.?

I'm reading a book out loud and it sometimes uses "f." and other times "ff." during references like: "(Harding, 274f.)" and other times there would be an "ff." ...
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1 vote
1 answer
100 views

Meaning of "My finger burst like a sausage"

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner ‘I got my hand jammed between two speaker boxes,’ said Philip. ‘My finger burst like a sausage.’ ‘You know?’ said Vicki. ‘One of those horror ...
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4 votes
1 answer
2k views

Meaning of "She had all the colour and dynamism of a parsnip"

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner ‘She was wearing these daggy flares,’ said Elizabeth, ‘with embroidered insets.’ ‘I got my hand jammed between two speaker boxes,’ said Philip....
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0 votes
1 answer
94 views

What does the last sentence "Better look at the oil, too" mean?

In "Stuart Little" by E.B.White, Stuart was having a conversation with the attendant of a gas station: "Five, please," said Stuart to the attendant. The man looked at the tiny ...
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4 votes
0 answers
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What is the “presence” in Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’?

In Wordsworth’s ‘Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey’ he describes a “presence”:                                 And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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What does "powerful commodities" mean in The Markenmore Mystery?

In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, two men were talking about that whoever commits a crime by chance doesn't have a reason to incriminate himself “Ain’t no ’casion as I knows on for ...
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7 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the German loan word?

Is there a particular word here that's the "German loan word" or what's the intended meaning? When you think about the textured histories of the teams and the faith and passion of the fans ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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What does "delicately-fashioned fingers" mean in The Markenmore Mystery?

In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, the author was describing someone: He was a very meek and mild young man, thought Blick, as far as appearance went; an intellectual of some sort, ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of "God, the joy of her, the pleasure!"

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Elizabeth used the presence of Vicki at her place as an excuse for sleeping nearly every night at Philip’s. He did not mind: he was not the ...
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9 votes
4 answers
3k views

Meaning of the phrase "If ever a man leaped across time into the raw..."

I'm reading Hearts of Three written by Jack London. Right in Chapter I, I found the following sentence: If ever a man leaped across time into the raw, red drama and tragedy of the primitive and the ...
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0 votes
1 answer
86 views

What does "exalted suffering" mean?

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Spring came. In the mornings, when the first person opened the back door, the whole bulk of air in the house shifted and warmed. Women sighed ...
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6 votes
1 answer
1k views

Julius Caesar: "If it be aught toward the general good, Set honor in one eye and death i’ th’ other..."

From Act I Scene II of the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare: BRUTUS I would not, Cassius, yet I love him well. But wherefore do you hold me here so long? What is it that you would impart to ...
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2 votes
1 answer
82 views

Can authors use past tense in fiction works to refer to an unreal situations without using "if"?

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner She stood at the tramstop opposite the long railed side of the cemetery. Someone had written in black texta on the lamp-post DARREN WAR LOURD. ...
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3 votes
2 answers
105 views

What does "Sensible plans of action clicked their wooden sides together without meaning," mean?

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner In the huge room beyond the partition the phone rang and she heard Elizabeth pick it up. Before the caller had a chance to speak, Elizabeth ...
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2 votes
1 answer
579 views

What did Aciman mean by "Love, which exempts no one who's loved from loving"?

In Andre Aciman's Call Me by Your Name, while Elio describes the events of the summer, he refers to a quote by Francesca he remembers from Inferno. "Love, which exempts no one who's loved from ...
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0 votes
1 answer
55 views

Can "hollow" in "hollow as a Hopper painting" mean "meaningless and deceptive"?

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner That night at the studio they finished early. There were no taxis, so he walked. He didn’t know what time it was but thought it must be after ...
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1 vote
1 answer
50 views

What does "in flight from it" mean in the below text?

This is a passage in a book called Missing Out by Adam Phillips: But the outrageous, pragmatic strong reader in this account reads as if he knows what he wants, and not as though he is conflicted ...
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0 votes
2 answers
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Meaning of "It was a place that waited, It was a place of reason and courtesy"

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner ‘Once upon a time,’ said Philip. ‘There was a wonderful cafe. It opened very early in the morning. No. It stayed open twenty-four hours. It ...
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12 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is the "a-" prefix in "a-flying" and "a-getting" in Herrick's "To the Virgins"?

From Robert Herrick's "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time": Gather ye Rose-buds while ye may,     Old Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles to day,     To morrow will ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
70 views

Meaning of "What is in here?"

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner What is this, thought Vicki. What is in here? It is a warehouse, it has no walls or rooms. There is a row of windows, each one shaped like an ...
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2 votes
2 answers
77 views

What's the meaning of "catching or missing something" in this sentence from "A Stoic" by John Galsworthy?

I'm translating a novel by John Galsworthy, A Stoic, written at the beginning of the XX century (full text on Project Gutenberg), and I've come across a sentence I’m finding quite tricky to understand:...
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2 votes
0 answers
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In Effi Briest, what is the meaning and significance of a "wide field"?

I noticed a similar phrase recurring twice in the conversation between Effi's parents in Chapter V of Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest, which I'm reading online: Miss Hulda had clinked her glass too ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Meaning of the dialog in bold and "sour street light"

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Up there under the leafless vine they were talking. Vicki saw their breath. From the angles of their bodies she could tell they were arguing. ...
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4 votes
1 answer
311 views

What does "perverse madonna" mean?

What is a "perverse madonna"? In the short story "The Boarding House" by James Joyce, Polly is compared to a "perverse madonna". Polly was a slim girl of nineteen; she ...
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3 votes
2 answers
359 views

Meaning of "Now things can only get better" and "starry cold" in the passage below

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Dexter emptied his bowl for the last time, then lifted it in both hands and licked it out, pushing his face right into it. There was soup on ...
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