They all thought he had talent; at Heidelberg they had admired his water colours, Miss Wilkinson had told him over and over again that they were chasing [1)]; even strangers like the Watsons had been struck by his sketches. La Vie de Boheme had made a deep impression on him. He had brought it to London and when he was most depressed he had only to read a few pages to be transported into those chasing [2)] attics where Rodolphe and the rest of them danced and loved and sang.

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

What is the definition of 'chasing' here? Is the first 'chasing' a print, lithograph, engraving? Then what about the second 'chasing'?

  • The first seems to be **captivating **, the second is less expressive meaning **attractive **.
    – V.V.
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 9:20
  • 1
    IMO these are both strange usages. Hard to know exactly what is meant by them. Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 15:06
  • In this dictionary: archive.org/details/con00ciseoxforddicfowlrich/page/138/mode/… it can mean: to take hold as in to become popular, which makes sense for 1)
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 30 at 17:01
  • 1
    Then again I found some 20th editions that say "charming attics"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 31 at 23:04
  • 1
    There are multiple editions that say "charming"; the "chasing" editions are all recent ones from questionable e-book publishers, not major publishers who might proof-read, so it is entirely possible they all come from the same flawed source. Archive.org has the English first edition with "charming". "Chasing" is an OCR error.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 1 at 15:10

3 Answers 3


"Exceeding a given average standard of production"


A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English, John S. Farmer, W .E. Henley. London. 1905.

  • The first one can be understood with your definition but what about the second one? Does the second one mean that this particular attics are happier,exciting, different( in good a way) place than your typical other attics?
    – whitecap
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 19:34
  • The reference is to the uppermost storeys of houses on the Left Bank in 19th century Paris. A high mansard roof would provide a large space. These were not attics for storage but dwellings.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 21:36

A metalwork technique used to create a surface design or texture. The metal is worked on the front by hammering with punches that depress the metal surface. Chasing is the opposite of repoussé, in which the metal is worked from the back.
Source: Art History Glossary by James Terry

From the website furrlumen.com here is an example of the meticulous and highly ornamental metalwork

enter image description here

We might imagine that the attics mentioned in the novel were decorative or adorned with elaborated doors, windows or whatever.


Now that Stuart F has also posted the link from archive.org I did supply earlier in the comments to my answer, showing Maugham's first edition from 1915, I think we can agree that 'chasing' is an error and that it actually says 'charming' in both instances.

I think we can also agree that the metalwork link supplied in the second answer is interesting, but irrelevant in context.

  • Links go into the answers. Your second answer was deleted by a mod, probably for its low and unsupported answer. If you want I can edit your answer and add the links if for some reason the system doesn't allow new users to post links, but in answers and question I think it does.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 1 at 13:52
  • I meant to write "low quality" but that was before the edit.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 1 at 19:46
  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Feb 1 at 21:45
  • I am sorry for not posting links in the answer and instead showing them in my comments, being new to this forum I was unaware that you prefer to see them within answers. I came across the exact same question in a different language forum I contribute to and found in my research that someone on stackexchange had asked the same question a few years ago - so I decided to post our answer here, thinking it might benefit the original poster. It did at least prompt Stuart F to research and come up with the same answer.
    – pengulina
    Commented Feb 2 at 8:28

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