3

To see if Golly Gollan had put a new gag into his triumph of foolery — Gollan who had been rescued from a life on the road by a daring manager, and had been given his chance and had taken it.

Does it mean Golly Gollan was going to die and his manager had rescued him? Or he had a life passing on the road?

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    "Life on the road" = "a life of a person who travels a lot in order to make a living" – CowperKettle May 17 '16 at 10:34
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    or a person who travels a lot because he doesn't make, or doesn't want to make, a living. Cf #3 vagabond @CowperKettle :) – Alan Carmack May 17 '16 at 10:53
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    Possibly easily confused with "on the streets" which specifically does mean homeless. – Meelah May 17 '16 at 13:08
10

On the road is an idiom, and it can mean

on the road
1. On tour, as a theatrical company.
2. Traveling, especially as a salesperson.
3. Wandering, as a vagabond.

It's not easy to determine which meaning the author intends. The context is that of a theatre production, so Gollan could have been rescued from a life as an actor on tour (with the result that he stayed in London) or, more drastically, from a life of wandering as a vagabond. Probably the first case.

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    It looks like the book this is from was written in 1929, and travelling entertainers were pretty common back then. Not like modern organised tours, and not vagabonds since they were working within the law - something like buskers, who'd travel from town to town, putting on impromptu shows in venues like pubs and village halls to earn a living until it was time to move on because the locals had got bored of them. – user568458 May 17 '16 at 12:20

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