Questions tagged [literature]

Questions related to English vocabulary, forms, phrases, and syntax that is now more commonly seen in written literature than in everyday speech. Also used for questions citing excerpts from works of literature.

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Meaning of “lit from behind through a cloud of metallic steam” and “strain a person’s sense … ” [closed]

They stopped on a rising note. Dexter was standing in the bathroom doorway, holding Billy by the hand, lit from behind through a cloud of metallic steam. ‘Some things, Morty,’ he said, ‘strain a ...
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Meaning of “But you are faking it” and “Rule number one of modern life”

Vicki said, ‘Don’t you care about Philip and Athena?’ said Vicki. Elizabeth said, ‘Course I care. I always care. But there’s no point in making a song and dance about it, like that night he stayed ...
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Meaning of “Joachim spent the time it took for Dave and I to be snapped attempting to chat up Brigitte.”

From The Last Bandit. A Rock'n'roll Life by Nikki Sudden: Joachim spent the time it took for Dave and I to be snapped attempting to chat up Brigitte. I don't understand the meaning and the ...
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arrogant slow gait

ANNABEL and Midge came out of the tearoom with the arrogant slow gait of the leisured, for their Saturday afternoon stretched ahead of them. Hey there, What does this text mean by "the arrogant ...
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meaning of “braced for more sobbing” [closed]

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner someone laughed up high, there was a scuffling somewhere in the house, Dexter was up, he would see to it. Her muscles let go and she was away. ...
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3answers
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Meaning of “jerking figures”

Beside one of the speaker boxes crouched an androgynous creature in a raincoat. Its neck was bent, its hair was slicked back like a schoolboy’s off its sweating, waxen face, it nodded its head in time ...
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3answers
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What is this writing technique called in English?

How is this writer's technique called in English when the author seems to address someone in his epistle or a letter, but, in fact, is only indirectly addressing him (because, for example, that person ...
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3answers
43 views

what does “in the brief camaraderie of moving to music” mean?

Vicki charged down the front to dance beside girls she did not know but who meet her eye and smile at her as they leap and bob and twirl about in their cheap and cheerful dresses, in the brief ...
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1answer
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Meaning of “The other right” and “back looping”

I was watching the sci-fi series "The Flash". Character1 is instructing Character2 about direction: Character1: "Turn right" Charater2 moves in the wrong direction. Charater1: &...
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1answer
48 views

Meaning of “he is trying to keep something alive.” and “righteous set of Dexter's mouth…”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner ‘Sing something,’ said Poppy to Elizabeth. ‘Sing ‘‘Breaking Up Is Hard To Do’’.’ ‘Oh, not that,’ said Philip. ‘You do the come-ah come-ah,’ ...
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2answers
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How different are “the tracks” from “the steps” that one leaves in the snow?

Reading a story by A. Blackwood, I am not sure what to make of the following phrase: The night was still as ice, bitterly cold. Breathlessly they ran, following the tracks. Halfway his steps diverged,...
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What does “Some Polos” mean in this passage from “The Ferryman”?

The following is from The Ferryman, page 7 (depiction of a man, who was found in the bog, he was supposed to be an IRA informer, but something went wrong and IRA itself they killed him). What does &...
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The meaning of “Let-us-take-and-heave-him-over”

Just when the reasons were drowsy with blood-sucking I heard the regular—“Let-us-take-and-heave-him-over” grunt of doolie-bearers in the compound. First one doolie came in, then a second, and then a ...
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Why is there a comma in “'I'd like to be as rich as Marco,' he thought”?

This is a sentence from a story I was reading: 'I'd like to be as rich as Marco,' he thought. Why is a comma used after the word 'Marco'? Can you please explain the grammar behind that?
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What does “show Callum what he was missing” mean here? [closed]

I am wondering what "show Callum what he was missing" means in the following sentences: ‘I was on my phone,’ I say, ‘and I could see that Callum was with Ellie. She’d shared all these pics ...
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What does “he wasn’t very subtle about” mean here?

I am wondering what "he wasn’t very subtle about" means in the following sentences: Hannah speaks first. ‘Olivia.’ The cave replies in a whisper: Olivia, Olivia, Olivia. ‘God,’ Hannah says, ...
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36 views

What does “Can’t think of the last time I did that.” mean here?

I am wondering what "Can’t think of the last time I did that." means in the following sentences: ‘Actually,’ I say, ‘I’m not all that tired. And I don’t have to get up early tomorrow ...
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1answer
21 views

What does “Had enough in there?” mean here?

I am wondering what "Had enough in there?" means in the following sentences: I push into the drawing room next door and as I walk through I stop short in shock. A figure’s sitting there on ...
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2answers
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What does “ladies” mean here?

I am wondering what "ladies" means in the following sentences: ‘The first part,’ Angus says, ‘is: “Do brave deeds and endure”, which was the school motto. The second part was added in by us ...
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1answer
38 views

What does “a big tradition” mean here?

I am wondering what "a big tradition" means in the following sentences: ‘Survival?’ Hannah turns to him. ‘This game we used to play at school,’ Femi explains. Duncan’s wife Georgina chips ...
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1answer
17 views

What does “from the school, deep into the grounds” mean here?

I am wondering what "from the school, deep into the grounds" means in the following sentences: ‘Survival?’ Hannah turns to him. ‘This game we used to play at school,’ Femi explains. Duncan’...
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1answer
26 views

What does “the better versions of the sort of school we both went to” mean here?

I am wondering what "the better versions of the sort of school we both went to" means in the following sentences: ‘Well,’ I say. ‘Funny you should say that, but I did actually do a try-out ...
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0answers
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What does “Not that that’s any shade on what you do” mean here?

I am wondering what "Not that that’s any shade on what you do" means in the following sentences: ‘Well,’ I say. ‘Funny you should say that, but I did actually do a try-out for the show.’ ‘...
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1answer
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“Though fully aware that to his well-known interest in psychical things was partly due his presence..”. - meaning of the sentence

Reading an old story by A. Blackwood, I am unable to decipher the sentence in bold: He had told no fearsome story. He had evaded, indeed, many openings expressly made for him, though fully aware that ...
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What does “Despite the impression she works hard to convey of bohemian vagueness” mean here?

I am wondering what "Despite the impression she works hard to convey of bohemian vagueness" means in the following sentences: ‘How sweet,’ Mum’s saying to Hannah. ‘Five’s a lovely age.’ She’...
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2answers
50 views

What does “the mistrustful way he acts around Will” mean here?

I am wondering what "the mistrustful way he acts around Will" means in the following sentences: I watch Charlie until his gaze snags on mine – I make sure I’m the first to glance away. And ...
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1answer
91 views

What does “If I had anything to do with it” mean here?

I am wondering what "If I had anything to do with it" means in the following sentences: ‘Er – no,’ Hannah says. And then, quickly, ‘But as I say, we’re so out of the loop we wouldn’t know ...
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1answer
29 views

What does “we wouldn’t know anywhere” mean here?

I am wondering what "we wouldn’t know anywhere" means in the following sentences: ‘Such fond memories of Brighton,’ Mum is saying to Hannah. ‘You know, I performed down there a couple of ...
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1answer
21 views

What does “with that slightly haughty tone that creeps into her voice when she’s been shown up” mean here?

I am wondering what "with that slightly haughty tone that creeps into her voice when she’s been shown up" means in the following sentences: ‘Such fond memories of Brighton,’ Mum is saying ...
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3answers
251 views

What does “we learned” mean here?

I am wondering what "we learned" means in the following sentences: I notice Will and Dad sizing each other up surreptitiously. In Dad’s company, oddly, Will seems a little diminished, a ...
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4answers
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What does “until she passes the five-year mark, Dad’s record to date” mean here?

I am wondering what "until she passes the five-year mark, Dad’s record to date" means in the following sentences: Séverine, Dad’s latest wife – French, not far off my age, one part ...
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2answers
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What does “the broken nose” mean here?

I am wondering what "the broken nose" means in the following sentences: ‘Dad!’ I say, ‘You terrified poor Hannah!’ I mean it was a bit of an overreaction from her, dropping her glass like ...
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What does “all a little worse for wear after a day of carousing” mean here?

I would like to know what "all a little worse for wear after a day of carousing" means in the following sentences: It is a few moments before the waitress regains consciousness. She is, it ...
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0answers
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What does “The most they can get from her” mean here?

I would like to know what "The most they can get from her" means in the following sentences: It is a few moments before the waitress regains consciousness. She is, it appears, uninjured, ...
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1answer
39 views

What does “he gives me a kind of apologetic wince” mean here?

I would like to know what "he gives me a kind of apologetic wince" means in the following sentences: This is crazy, I think. I don’t have to drink it. I’m a thirty-four-year-old woman. I ...
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1answer
25 views

What does “spill out over my bottom lip” mean here?

I would like to know what "spill out over my bottom lip" means in the following sentences: This is crazy, I think. I don’t have to drink it. I’m a thirty-four-year-old woman. I don’t even ...
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2answers
37 views

What does “Methinks the lady does protest too much” mean here?

I would like to know what "Methinks the lady does protest too much" means in the following sentences: ‘Yep,’ says Will. ‘Lost all the feeling in the pads of these fingers.’ He holds up one ...
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4answers
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What does “that public schoolboy polish” mean here?

I would like to know what "that public schoolboy polish" means in the following sentences: ‘Yup,’ Will says. ‘We were at school together.’ I’m surprised. The other men have that public ...
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1answer
48 views

What does “Jules flicks him with champagne from her glass. ‘Oi!’” mean here?

I would like to know what "Jules flicks him with champagne from her glass. ‘Oi!’" means in the following sentences: ‘And he seemed so grown-up,’ Jules says, heedless of the interruption. ...
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1answer
55 views

What does “It was my summer job” mean here?

I would like to know what "It was my summer job" means in the following sentences: ‘So Charlie boy,’ Johnno says, ‘tell us. How did you two first meet?’ I think at first he means Charlie ...
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1answer
71 views

What does “A millions years ago” mean here?

I would like to know what "A millions years ago" means in the following sentences: ‘So Charlie boy,’ Johnno says, ‘tell us. How did you two first meet?’ I think at first he means Charlie ...
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1answer
33 views

What does “he’s looking between Charlie and Jules” mean here?

I would like to know what "he’s looking between Charlie and Jules" means in the following sentences: ‘So Charlie boy,’ Johnno says, ‘tell us. How did you two first meet?’ I think at first ...
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0answers
33 views

What does “sometimes I’ll have the impression” mean here?

I would like to know what "sometimes I’ll have the impression" means in the following sentences: A couple of times my gaze snags with Will’s over her shoulder. I don’t think it’s my fault: ...
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1answer
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What does “tailored jackets that definitely don’t come from Next, like Charlie’s” mean here?

I would like to know what "tailored jackets that definitely don’t come from Next, like Charlie’s" means in the following sentences: This man is Duncan, apparently, and he’s married to ...
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1answer
40 views

What does “it was on a yoga retreat in Ibiza” mean here?

I would like to know what "it was on a yoga retreat in Ibiza" means in the following sentences: ‘Now,’ Will says, palm on my back as a gentle steer, warm through my dress, ‘let me introduce ...
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1answer
107 views

What does “Botox in real life” mean here?

I would like to know what "Botox in real life" means in the following sentences: ‘Now,’ Will says, palm on my back as a gentle steer, warm through my dress, ‘let me introduce you to some ...
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1answer
87 views

What does “Guilty!” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "Guilty!" means in the following sentences: ‘Hannah,’ Will says, turning to me with that famous, generous smile of his. ‘You look stunning.’ ‘Thanks.’ I take a big ...
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5answers
96 views

Meaning of “A bigger boy ran in the back door, and kicked it to”

‘I’ll go and get him,’ said Dexter. ‘Athena – Vicki must be sat near the warmth. She’s from sunnier climes, aren’t you, Vicki.’ He rounded her up, sidling and dancing with his arms out in their big ...
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2answers
32 views

“Switched off at the main” phrase meaning

I've encountered the following phrase in a Jeeves and Wooster book, The code of the Woosters: He had been beaming like a searchlight until I mentioned this aspect of the matter, and the radiance ...
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Complicated comprehension of the sentence

In his heart every man knows quite well that, being unique, he will be in the world only once and that no imaginable chance will for a second time gather together into a unity so strangely variegated ...

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