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It would astound a bookseller to tell him he was part of the world’s educational organisation or a publisher’s traveller, that he existed for any other purpose than to book maximum orders for best sellers and earn a record commission - letting the other stuff, the highbrow stuff and all that, go hang.

The new world order by H.G.Wells

I interpret the sentence as following:

It would astound a bookseller to tell him [...]. Or it would astound publisher's traveller to tell him [...].

But I don't understand the "letting" part. Does it belong to the word "tell". Like: tell him something letting the other stuff go hang?

Or I am wrong?

1 Answer 1

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It doesn't belong to "tell". Rather it is part of the description of the bookseller's conception of his own purpose, the one than which there is not "any other".
So, his idea of his purpose is to maximize his commissions, letting everything else "go hang", that is, not be regarded at all. No highbrow stuff, no responsibility for world education, no duty as a publisher's representative, just his own profit.

Expanding on this explanation,

The bookseller's idea of his own purpose is to book maximum orders for best sellers and earn a record commission, forgetting everything else (letting the other stuff go hang).

To tell the bookseller that he existed for any other purpose, such as being part of world education or representing a publisher, would astound him.

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