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Things had been happening. Divisions were moving. There had been, there was going to be, a stunt. A battalion marched over the hill and sat down by the road. They had left the trenches three days march to the north and had come to a new country. The officers pulled their maps out; a mild breeze fluttered them; yesterday had been winter and today was spring; but spring in a desolation so complete and far-reaching that you only knew of it by that little wind. It was early March by the calendar, but the wind was blowing out of the gates of April.

This passage is from Tales of War (1918), a novel by Edward Plunkett, Lord Dunsany, about the Great War.

I do not understand 'stunt' at all. Is this a kind of a operational strategy?

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  • I think it means a dangerous action which is like a scene from an action movie.
    – Yuri
    Apr 1 '16 at 8:11
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Stunt can mean many things, out of which, the main two meaning are:

  1. an acrobatic, dangerous, or spectacular action.

or

  1. to stop, slow down, or hinder the growth or development of.

Out of this, I think it could mean the latter. This is the reason why I think it may mean "To stop or hinder, an arrested development".

Let's look at the sentence that follows the word "stunt" in the context.

"...sat down by the road"

This means that they are no longer marching. Their movement has been stopped. Or in other words, they journey has been stunted.

ALSO

Now, when I read the entire context as such, it could possibly mean the former also, that is, "a dangerous act". Why? Here's why.

What is the most dangerous act that mankind can engage themselves in? WAR. The "battalions", the "marching", all of which are indications of the birth of a battle. This battle or war, an unwanted and fatally dangerous and reckless act could also be referred to as "stunt".

These are the possible meaning, IMO. You should be able to understand which is the correct meaning because you have the entire novel as the context. You shouldn't have any problem choosing among these as the precise interpretation for the word "stunt" in the given context.

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