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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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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1answer
28 views

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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1answer
52 views

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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1answer
26 views

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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1answer
31 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
19 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
60 views

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
35 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
15 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
21 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
19 views

What does “He’s a natural on screen.” mean here?

I am wondering what "He’s a natural on screen." means in the following sentences: ‘Well,’ I say. ‘Funny you should say that, but I did actually do a try-out for the show.’ ‘You did?’ Hannah ...
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0answers
21 views

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
11 views

“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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1answer
27 views

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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0answers
30 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
74 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
28 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
19 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
247 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
2k views

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
38 views

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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0answers
29 views

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
20 views

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
31 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
24 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
34 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
3k views

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
44 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
51 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
64 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
31 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
30 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
30 views

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
37 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
104 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
80 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
93 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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1answer
32 views

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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1answer
47 views

“to have coffee from” meaning

They had coffee from condensed milk cans at an early morning place that served fishermen. This is a sentence from "The old man and the sea" by Hemingway. I'm not sure if it means the coffee ...
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1answer
52 views

What is meant by “dead past”?

The poem "Opportunity" by Walter Malone has a line My judgments seal the dead past with its dead. I could not find the real meaning of the "dead past" in the Oxford dictionary. ...
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1answer
26 views

“Fine, fine that” - meaning in a snippet (a story)

Reading a story by A. Blackwood: “Singular,yes, these last words of dying men,” the tall man was saying, “very singular. You remember Newman’s: ‘More light,’ wasn’t it?” The bookseller nodded. “Fine,”...
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1answer
29 views

“such a face— ’im, yet not ’im—like a sudden…” - meaning of a sentence from a short story

I would really appreciate some help here because I am absolutely clueless regarding the meaining of the phrase in bold (a ghost story by A. Blackwood http://algernonblackwood.org/Z-files/...
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1answer
18 views

“…glare of the big electric standards that lit..” - meaning of “standard”

In a A.Blackwood story, I have trouble understanding the following: Pedestrians went hurrying and shivering along the pavements, disappearing into the gloom of countless ugly little houses the moment ...
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2answers
124 views

What's the meaning of “can only be recounted in Latin”?

What's the meaning of "can only be recounted in Latin" in the context of the following passage? Of course, I know its lexical meaning but I guess it's some kind of allusion or in some ...
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1answer
19 views

“where lay a gulf all the blacker for its glittering walls” - “all the..for” meaning?

Translating one of Lovecraft's stories, I got stuck because of the following sentence: where lay a gulf all the blacker for its glittering walls. Particularly, it is the "all the" combined ...
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1answer
22 views

“And shadowed on a screen, I saw hooded forms…” - does “shadowed” belong to the “forms”?

Reading Nyarlathotep by H.P. Lovecraft, I would like to ask if my understanding is correct: And shadowed on a screen, I saw hooded forms amidst ruins, and yellow evil faces peering from behind fallen ...
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1answer
32 views

“In a town. The village, tho it can scarce be called one, of X” - meaning

Reading a story by A.C. Smith, I am unsure of the meaning of the following: Three days later found me at the railway station of my cousin's native town. The village, tho it can scarce be called one, ...
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2answers
46 views

How to interpret the meaning and find the predicate of a sentence from The Plague

An excerpt from The Plague A word that conjured up in the doctor's mind not only what science chose to put into it, but a whole series of fantastic possibilities utterly out of keeping with that gray ...
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1answer
35 views

“An abandoned shoe, a rotten tooth, a snub nose, the cook spitting in the soup of his masters are to love what a battle flag is to nationality.”

An abandoned shoe, a rotten tooth, a snub nose, the cook spitting in the soup of his masters are to love what a battle flag is to nationality. It is from The Solar Anus, a translation of, L’anus ...

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