Questions tagged [meaning]

For questions regarding the meaning of certain terms of 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.

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5
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1answer
122 views

What does Aldous Huxley mean by 'death control is achieved very easily'?

In chapter I of Brave New World Revisited, Aldous Huxley writes: […] there are nowhere any religious traditions in favor of unrestricted death, whereas religious and social traditions in favor ...
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1answer
416 views

Interpretation of “The Catcher in the Rye” by J. D. Salinger

In "The Catcher in the Rye" by J. D. Salinger, there are two topics that, in my opinion, are metaphors. The first topic is the one of the ducks in the pond and where they go in winter. Looking on the ...
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208 views

Is the man about to die in “Meditation on the A30”?

John Betjeman's poem "Meditation on the A30" is about a man driving his car and fuming about his unloving wife. In the final verse, he finally turns to action: "You're barmy or plastered, I'll pass ...
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What is the meaning of “funny sort” in Jerome K. Jerome's “Passing Of The Third Floor Back”?

In "Passing Of The Third Floor Back" a short story by Jerome K. Jerome (available on Project Gutenberg) we have the following dialogue, without further explanation: Mrs. Pennycherry pondered. “He’s ...
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164 views

What did John Betjeman mean by “You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes/And I must have things daintily served”?

From Fox, Kate: Watching the English (2014 ed). p. 499 Bottom. The Self-deprecating Insult Rule Speaking of privileged schoolchildren and the English art of indirectness, here is a quote I ...
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2answers
339 views

What does this Boris Spassky quote mean?

This is a quote by Boris Spassky: A man who is willing to commit suicide has the initiative. Is this something that is just related to chess or is it a wider statement about people?
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70 views

What is the meaning of “Not even Jonah’s wife would swallow that story” in Marquez's “Love in the Time of Cholera”?

In the book of the Colombian novelist García Márquez Love in the Time of Cholera there is the following phrase: She said: “Not even Jonah’s wife would swallow that story.” I tried to find some ...
3
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1answer
41 views

What does “rather vaguely conceived sweetness and light” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "rather vaguely conceived sweetness and light" means in the following sentences: The other girls in her dormitory marveled at the slightness of her body when they saw ...
5
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1answer
53 views

What does “Am I sick?” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "Am I sick?" means in the following sentences: “I mustn't! I mustn't! I'm nervous this afternoon. Am I sick? . . . Good Lord, I hope it isn't that! Not now! How people ...
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43 views

What does this line mean, about Anna Karenina amounting to false papers?

What does Kundera mean by this line, towards the end of chapter 2 in The Unbearable Lightness of Being? The copy of Anna Karenina under her arm amounted to false papers; it had given Tomas the ...
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1answer
402 views

What does “snow in the crevices of a boggy bank” mean here?

I would like to know what "snow in the crevices of a boggy bank" means in the following sentences: Her cheek near his sleeve, she studied a dozen village pictures. They were streaky; she saw only ...
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In what way is Dussel an unflattering nickname?

From 16 November 1942 onwards, Anne Frank had to share her room with the dentist Fritz Pfeffer, who had a number of habits that Anne couldn't stand. In the German biography Anne Frank (Reinbek bei ...
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What does “advertisements in mother-of-pearl letters upon the glass-covered back” mean here?

I would like to know what "advertisements in mother-of-pearl letters upon the glass-covered back" means in the following sentences: She glanced through the fly-specked windows of the most ...
3
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1answer
160 views

What does “mannered whimsy” mean?

What does "mannered whimsy" mean in the following passage taken from Eucharist and the Poetic Imagination in Early Modern England by Sophie Read? Marvell does, it is true, come off better from this ...
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441 views

What does this passage of 1984 mean?

There were also memories of another kind. They stood out in his mind disconnectedly, like pictures with blackness all round them. He was in a cell which might have been either dark or light, ...
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313 views

Meaning of “may I be twice damned for a bank-clerk or store hand” in “I hight Don Quixote”, a poem by Jack Parsons

From I Hight Don Quixote by Jack Parsons: They said I was crazy, ambiguous, lazy, disgusting, fantastic, obscene; So I hied for my sagebrush and cactus and corn mush, To see if the air was ...
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4answers
570 views

Meaning of “And do not drop in for an after-loss” in Shakespeare's sonnet 90

Sonnet 90 by Shakespeare: Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now; Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross, Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow, And do not drop in for an ...
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58 views

What does the dedication “To The Other Three” mean?

The book Beast and Man in India by John Lockwood Kipling (father of the more famous Rudyard Kipling), which is freely available on Project Gutenberg, has the following cryptic dedication: TO THE ...
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Are the words 'putter' and 'chop' some kind of mimetic words or what in this context?

I've come accross the expressions 'putter, putter!' and 'chop, chop' in the novel 'The Arrangement' by Elia Kazan. I need interpretation. Here is the paragraph: He'd continue his joking, fixing me ...
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257 views

Meaning of this line from “Birches”

I was reading "Birches" by Robert Frost. I am having difficulty in understanding the meaning of a line. Please refer to this link for the full poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44260/...
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Meaning of “How can one admire a girl…so young she doesn't know how to bite her fingers”

In a book of short stories by Maasthi Venkatesa Iyengar, translated from Kannada to English, there is a story set in colonial India in which two male characters are discussing marriage. One character ...
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336 views

What does “getting soaked” mean in this text?

What does "getting soaked" mean in the following excerpt from Valeria Luiselli's novel The Story of My Teeth? I get off the bus not far from the gates, at a lovely median strip with life-size ...
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1answer
92 views

What is the literal meaning of this line in “Birches”

I was reading "Birches" by Robert Frost. I am having difficulty in understanding the meaning of a part of a line. Please refer to this link for the full poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/...
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1answer
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Forgetting by Robert Lynd

Tell me what the following line means: The fishing-rod of reality is forgotten by him as he day-dreams over the fears of the fishing-rod of Utopia. Especially, the fears of the fishing-rod of ...
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32 views

Does Auden contradict himself in “children might well appear to be more rational than adults, for a child is not, by nature, more anything”?

I first saw this quote here: Philip Johnson-Laird BA PhD Psychology (UCL), Stuart Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton. How We Reason (1st edn 2008). p. 245. I emboldened. “Walter de la ...
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59 views

What is the meaning of these lines in Albee's Three Tall Women?

Can anyone please let me know the meaning of the following lines taken from Edward Albee's play Three Tall Women. The lines are spoken by character A, an elderly woman, expressing her view of the "...
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1answer
151 views

What does Agatha Christie mean with “in a telegraphic style”?

Bold part of this passage from The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Miss Howard shook hands with a hearty, almost painful, grip. I had an impression of very blue eyes in a sunburnt face. She was a ...
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2answers
52 views

What does “the surface tension held” mean?

Consider the following passage from Six Wakes, a science fiction novel by Mur Lafferty: She and a good quantity of the synth-amneo fluid floated out of her vat, only to collide gently with the orb ...
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23 views

What is the function of comedy for Frye?

I have come across this quote from Northrop Frye: the social judgment against the absurd is closer to the comic norm than the moral judgment against the wicked. What is meant by it? Can anyone ...
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154 views

Meaning of “We make the wise distinction still, soever made in vain” in a poem by Dickinson

A poem by Emily Dickinson: We send the Wave to find the Wave— An Errand so divine, The Messenger enamored too, Forgetting to return, We make the wise distinction still, Soever made in ...
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75 views

How can readers ascertain that they have identified the author's intent?

We currently have several questions about auhorial-intent, for example, How much weight is given to authors' intentions in literary analysis? and How much weight should we give authors' declarations ...
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431 views

Why did Emerson choose 'hobgoblin' in his quote 'A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds'?

Source: Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive (2009). p. 80. According to Oscar Wilde, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” A similarly disdainful Ralph Waldo ...
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1k views

Explain “If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you”

In Kipling's poem IF, there is this line: If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you To achieve that, it seems you would have to be so closed off, insulated, and emotionally barricaded that ...
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1answer
183 views

Meaning of “I'm almost three-score” in “The Idiot Boy” by Wordsworth

From Wordsworth's The Idiot Boy: And now she's high upon the down, And she can see a mile of road, "Oh cruel! I'm almost three-score; Such night as this was ne'er before, There's not a ...
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2answers
165 views

Meaning of “dim blue match” in “The Female Vagrant” by Wordsworth

From "The Female Vagrant": But ill they suited me; those journeys dark O'er moor and mountain, midnight theft to hatch! To charm the surly House-dog's faithful bark, Or hang on tip-toe at ...
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1answer
86 views

Meaning and significance of “vaultlike door” and “contract around the object in a single yawn of appetite” in Egan's A Visit From The Goon Squad?

What is a vaultlike door? Is this a common adjective for a door? What does yawn of appetite mean? Would you please paraphrase/rephrase these sentences and explain their relevance? From Chapter 1, "...
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150 views

In Anne Frank's Diary, what does this quote mean? “Who besides me will ever read these letters? From whom but myself shall I get comfort?…”

Full quote: Who besides me will ever read these letters? From whom but myself shall I get comfort? As I need comforting often, I frequently feel weak, and dissatisfied with myself; my ...
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1answer
85 views

What's the meaning of the line “9 Parts of Desire” in this song?

There is a partially Hindi (there is only a couple of lines in Hindi; rest is in English) song titled as "9 Parts of Desire". Here is the YouTube link to that song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...
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Explanation of a line from the poem “I do not love you ” by Pablo Neruda

I loved her like certain dark things are to be loved, in between shadow and soul. Can someone explain this? What dark things are being talked about? Full text in Spanish and English Alternate ...
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92 views

Equestrian statues and wooden logs, what's the connection?

Here's a quote from Tomas de Quincey's "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater": Turkish opium-eaters, it seems, are absurd enough to sit, like so many equestrian statues, on logs of wood as stupid ...
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2answers
514 views

What did Pope intend to say by “Whatever is, is right”?

Source: The Well-Educated Mind (2 edn 2016), p. 86 Middle.   Related to this is one final question: What is fiction meant to do? Why are you reading a novel at all? Are you expecting to find ...
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93 views

What does this sentence about a cliché bouncing back like a boomerang mean?

What does this sentence mean in chapter 01 of Peel My Love Like an Onion by Ana Castillo? But you must be really in love for the cliché to bounce back like a boomerang smack dab between the eyes ...
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A real meaning of a Bramarbas or a Holofernes?

Before long the madness of intoxication broke out; they attacked one another with fists and knives, and it looked as if they would do murder. Suddenly the Saltmaster’s son, who had stood looking on, ...
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638 views

Meaning of some phrases and lines in “Quality” by John Galsworthy

I am reading "Quality" by John Galsworthy and there are some phrases and lines which I could not grasp. I thought that this site would be the perfect place to ask this question. Below are some lines ...
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66 views

Had fasting anything to do with golden trout in Middle Ages?

When I read a short story by Ambrose Bierce, 'Monk and the Hangman's daughter', I found a strange expression as below: At length we reached the bank of a stream whose silvery waters presented a ...
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285 views

What does “pull down the blinds” mean in Yeats's poem “The Mountain Tomb”?

Pour wine and dance, if manhood still have pride, Bring roses, if the rose be yet in bloom; The cataract smokes on the mountain side. Our Father Rosicross is in his tomb. Pull down ...
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1answer
633 views

What does “our identity with this country” mean here?

Reading The Great Gatsby, I encountered these sentences and came to be curious as to what "our identity with this country" means in this context: When we pulled out into the winter night and the ...
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1answer
234 views

What does “the protecting canvas unrolled from Gatsby’s grave” mean?

I am reading The Great Gatsby, and came to be curious as to what "the protecting canvas unrolled from Gatsby’s grave" means in the following sentences: As we started through the gate into the ...
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1answer
710 views

What does “The none too savory ramifications by which” mean here?

I am reading The Great Gatsby, and came to be curious as to the meaning of "ramifications" and "by which" in these sentences: Cody was fifty years old then, a product of the Nevada silver fields, ...
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1answer
5k views

What does “the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty” mean here?

I am reading The Great Gatsby, and came to be curious as to what "the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty" means in the following sentences: His parents were shiftless and ...