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An abandoned shoe, a rotten tooth, a snub nose, the cook spitting in the soup of his masters are to love what a battle flag is to nationality.

It is from The Solar Anus, a translation of, L’anus solaire (a very peculiar work in the surrealistic genre). It was written in 1927 by the French author Georges Bataille https://holybooks.com/the-solar-anus/

Does it mean:

To Love, an abandoned shoe, a rotten tooth, a snub nose, the cook spitting in the soup of his masters are a battle flag to nationality.

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    Found it. When you quote from somewhere please always tell us where you are taking the quote from.
    – James K
    Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 22:44
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    The syntax of the cited text might be On Topic here, but I don't think the meaning is. That's a matter of opinion. My opinion is that just as a battle flag might stir feelings of "nationalism / nationality", so we could say Cinderella's lost shoe stirred feelings of Love in Prince Charming. But we're dealing with translation from a non-Anglophone culture, so the whole thing seems only peripherally related to "learning English". Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 14:37
  • ^Thank you, you get my my point.
    – Qi Yin
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 5:33

1 Answer 1

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It is an analogy.

For example "Miaow" is to "Cat" what "Woof is to "Dog". I can symbolise this analogy as

Miaow ⋄ Cat
Woof ⋄ Dog

The relationship between Miaow and Cat is the same as the relationship between Woof and Dog. The first thing is the sound that the second thing makes.

The analogy here is

An abandoned shoe ⋄ Love
a rotten tooth ⋄ Love
a snub nose ⋄ Love
the cook spitting in the soup of his masters ⋄ Love
a battle flag ⋄ Nationality

The relationship between "a battle flag" and nationality is the same as the relationship between "An abandoned shoe" and love. But I have no idea what that relationship is. It is surreal. You aren't meant to understand.

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  • Hi thank you for sharing. But it seems that I do not have the problem of understanding the analogy of this sentence. I am just curious about the literature structure of this sentence that why it can't be the second sentence I rewrote but the the first sentence the author wrote. Now I think it might be the problem of the different matches of the plural and singular subjects with the auxiliary verbs: "are" and "is". (I understand his writings may includes some controversial opinions, and this text is kind of old......)
    – Qi Yin
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 17:44
  • The subject of this chapter is "parody"
    – Qi Yin
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 5:52
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    The word missing from your second sentence is "what". Compare with the animal example "To Cat, a miaow is a woof to Dog" That doesn't make sense because a miaow isn't a woof. You could say "To Cat, a miaow is what a woof is to Dog".
    – James K
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 7:11

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