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Could someone help me understand 'Had you?' in the following lines from Michael and Mary (1930) written by A. A. Milne?

Michael. Oh, well, I've read enough to dine out on. (He throws it on to the sofa. She picks it up and looks at the back.)

Mary. Never heard of him.

Michael. Yes, he would pretend to like that, but really he wouldn't.

Mary. Had you?

Michael. Certainly. I'm a well-read man.

Mary. Do you think he's more famous than you are?

Michael (hiding a smile). Much.

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    It's a shortened form of "Had you heard of him." It's not absolutely necessary for Mary to repeat "heard of him" as her statement was so recent. To some extent she's ignoring Michael's statement about the author and continuing her previous speech. She could have said "I've never heard of him, have you?" as her first line but Milne has written the dialogue as a casual, and more dynamic, conversation.
    – BoldBen
    Apr 25, 2021 at 6:25
  • Thank you very much for your detailed comment. If it is "Have you?", I could have understand it.
    – samhana
    Apr 25, 2021 at 6:57
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    She means "Had you heard of him [before you saw the book]?" Michael has apparently started to read the book, so of course he has heard of the author now. Apr 25, 2021 at 7:33
  • @KateBunting That's true, I nearly wrote "I've never heard of him, had you?" Then looked at the different cases and got cold feet. If I hadn't been rushing I would have thought it through.
    – BoldBen
    Apr 25, 2021 at 10:20
  • @BoldBen Please write that as an answer. It's better to write answers than comments when you know the answer. Apr 26, 2021 at 0:40

2 Answers 2

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She is referring back to her previous statement that she had "never heard of him", and is asking "had you heard of him?"

It's quite common to ask questions like "I haven't, have you?" In this example though, the remark by Michael breaks it up.

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This is an upgrade of a comment to an answer as suggested by D Clayworth. I didn't post as an answer initially because I have no supporting evidence.

It's a shortened form of "Had you heard of him." It's not absolutely necessary for Mary to repeat "heard of him" as her statement was so recent. To some extent she's ignoring Michael's statement about the author and continuing her previous speech. She could have said "I've never heard of him, have you?" as her first line but Milne has written the dialogue as a casual, and more dynamic, conversation.

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  • I first read this as HAD you? with the stress on the "had", and couldn't make sense of it. But after reading this answer, I see it is had YOU? and it makes perfect sense to me.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 27, 2021 at 21:13

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