Can anyone help me with these sentences?

The middle classes jeer at the collier for buying pianos-but what is the piano, often as not, but a blind reaching after beauty?

I don't understand what exactly the writer is trying to say. And another question is that what does blind reaching mean?

  • Could you please edit your question to provide a reference for this text- ideally a link to it? This helps a lot when interpreting text.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 11:13

2 Answers 2


If you look at the Oxford dictionary, there are several meanings for blind. This is meaning 2:

Lacking perception, awareness, or judgement

So, if somebody does something blindly, they do it without thinking about it properly.

Reaching for something can mean literally extending the arm to take something, but it also has a figurative meaning of trying to attain something.

What this sentence suggests is that people sometimes buy a piano because they think that just buying the thing will somehow give them beautiful music... failing to consider that they will actually have to learn to play it.

  • 1
    Another possible interpretation here is the idea of people with no artistic appreciation ("Philistines", people who don't know what "art" or "beauty" is, and wouldn't recognise it if they saw it), might "blindly" seek to acquire things that are associated with beauty by other people, even though they might be consciously aware that they can't actually "see / appreciate" that beauty directly for themselves. As in playing a poker hand "blind", where you can't directly observe the quality of the combination of cards you were dealt. Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 14:29

I believe the author is referring to a blind person, going after beauty. For it doesn't really matter to a blind person, in the same way as a piano won't matter to someone that doesn't play it more than just visually.

  • thank you for your assistance @Veraen, it was really helpful. Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 11:08
  • 1
    a blind does not mean "a blind person". blind is adjectival in the original sentence, and reaching is used nominally there, like a noun. It could be paraphrased as "reaching blindly", that is to say, "without a clear purpose"
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 11:13
  • I'm sure that in practice this answer is completely wrong in assuming a literal reference to people who are blind. But even if the writer had intended that interpretation, it would be expressed using a "subject" noun with a definite article - the blind [people], modifying an explicitly verb form reaching [out for]. But in fact blind here is an adjective modifying the gerund/noun reaching. Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 14:36
  • That might be very much true, perhaps I was grasping at straws with such answer
    – Veraen
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 18:24

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