As for indolence, that would be ridiculous, but there are other interesting things.

What does this mean? I'm especially interested in what the "but" means here.

2 Answers 2


But is the ordinary conjunction here, signalling that what follows denies or qualifies what has just been said.

Reverting to the topic of marriage: it would of course be silly for them to marry. However, men and women may enter into other sorts of firm relationship which are more interesting.

  • 1
    Not in this context, no.
    – rlms
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 15:02
  • 1
    @user4550 To disambiguate sweeneyrod's response, it is NOT possible to interpret but as unless. Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 18:34
  • I don't recall this particular passage from Dorian Gray, but given the overall context of the book, he probably does not mean other "firm" relationships, but rather that he considers a more transient, non-committal relationship to be preferable.
    – Jay
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 19:21
  • @Jay I think Lord Henry has a maintenance relationship in mind. This age is sort of the last gasp of the aristocrat's kept mistress: think Edward and Mrs. Lantry. M.Hollande, to be sure, is trying to revive the tradition, but he's too much a bourgeois not to make a hash of it. Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 20:52
  • @StoneyB Well, that could be. I suppose I could actually go back and check the book to see if it's clear from context.
    – Jay
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 21:48

You use the word but when you already told enough pleasant things to the listener and you finally decide state what really matters.

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