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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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What is the difference between "pretty" and "handsome" in this context?

She has a fine face—originally of a character that would be rather called very pretty than handsome, but improved into classicality by the acquired expression of her fashionable state. Bleak House by ...
user20437's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
817 views

Felling timber, tradition for a baronet?

Everyone. I am reading some literature works recently. Here is my questions when I run into those words(excerpted from Lady Chatterley’s Lover): Sir Geoffrey stood for England and Lloyd George as his ...
Kevin Cheng's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
40 views

What does the word "another" refer to in the sentence “He could not forget or pardon a lapse in another"?

I am quoting from The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Second Stain, by Arthur Conan Doyle: “Mr. Holmes, I will tell you everything,” cried the lady. “Oh, Mr. Holmes, I would cut off my right hand ...
user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
76 views

Why don't we need to use "was" in this sentence?

A quote from "The Great Gatsby". As if his absence quickened something within her, Daisy leaned forward again, her voice glowing and singing. Do we need to use was before "glowing and ...
Strider1996's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
92 views

Lack of verbs in Chinese poem translations

Thoughts on a Tranquil Night or Night Thoughts(《静夜思》)is a famous ancient Chinese poem, written by Li Bai, the most prominent poet of the Tang Dynasty. This poem was translated by numerous poetry ...
Interruptera's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
66 views

What does the word "framed" mean in this context?

For a split second, Uncle Vernon stood framed in the doorway; then he let out a bellow like an angry bull and dived at Harry, grabbing him by the ankle. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets What ...
oio's user avatar
  • 11
0 votes
1 answer
20 views

Word Framed in Context [duplicate]

For a split second, Uncle Vernon stood framed in the doorway; then he let out a bellow like an angry bull and dived at Harry, grabbing him by the ankle. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets What ...
oio's user avatar
  • 11
2 votes
1 answer
54 views

What does the word "bobbing" mean in this context?

They didn't meet anyone else until they reached the staircase up to the third floor. Peeves was bobbing halfway up, loosening the carpet so that people would trip. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's ...
ewewq's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
52 views

Does "sheets" mean the same thing as "sheet"?

Consider the following sentence: When Harry pulled back his sheets, he found his invisibility cloak folded neatly underneath them. From Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone I would suppose that ...
ewewq's user avatar
  • 121
-1 votes
1 answer
41 views

Meaning of "what would they know about the end of everything?"

In the car I was lonely and scared. I let out a couple of dry sobs. On either side of the freeway, the lights of new industrial parks were flicking on. I wound the window down and punched the radio ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
35 views

What is the The grammatical subject in the given sentences? [closed]

One comfort that she had under the Ordeal by General was more sustaining to her, and made her more grateful than to a less devoted and affectionate spirit, not habituated to her struggles and ...
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0 answers
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Is "he could not remember how many" a noun phrase in 1984 by Orwell?

I'm reading 1984 lately. I found the sentence below in it, and here's my question. Since then there had been other changes—two, three, he could not remember how many. I think the phrase "he ...
Ampan's user avatar
  • 707
22 votes
6 answers
5k views

Can native English speakers read Dickens easily?

I'm Japanese and I can read Dickens' works now, but with a great deal of effort. It can't be helped, I'm willing to admit btw. I'm wondering how easily native English speakers can read his works. Is a ...
Ampan's user avatar
  • 707
1 vote
1 answer
39 views

Meaning of "the shadows were about their own business” [closed]

‎What does “shadows” from the novel, Six of Crows, mean here? Her father would have said the shadows were about their own business tonight. Does it mean people who follow someone? I need help.
Thảo Nguyễn's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
47 views

Omitting coordinating conjunction and verb "be" in literature

Here's the sentence I'm asking about: I sat trapped in my seat, my false smile stretched so tight that I lost all feeling in the lower half of my face If I were to write the same sentence, it would ...
Anas Amer's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
52 views

What would be like "a ring of six leaves"?

I am not sure whether it is a suitable question here, but I could not find any other good place to ask it. In the story "The Five Jars" by Montague Rhodes James, its hero dreams of a strange ...
Nigutumok's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
2k views

Brown and clear water of a stream

I am reading The Five Jars by Montague Rhodes James. Its first sentence says: It is a wood with a stream at the edge of it; the water is brown and clear. I cannot well imagine water that is brown ...
Nigutumok's user avatar
  • 556
0 votes
1 answer
67 views

What literary device is used in "I am in the mood for dying"?

“She was my last, Jason, and I am saying it because it is true. Don’t look for me to keep you alive again when we set foot in Birchtown. Because I am in the mood for dying” Specifically the phrase in ...
user161902's user avatar
8 votes
5 answers
5k views

What does the phrase "I fish hold of it" mean, in the novel "All Quiet on the Western Front"?

I encountered this phrase in the novel All Quiet on the Western Front: He has buried his face in his hands, his helmet has fallen off I fish hold of it and try to put it back on his head. What does &...
Sergey Zolotarev's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
51 views

“…her wrinkled fingers quick at…“ is there a lost "are" between fingers and quick?

She poured again a measureful and a tilly. Old and secret she had entered from a morning world, maybe a messenger. She praised the goodness of the milk, pouring it out. Crouching by a patient cow at ...
William8964's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
455 views

Novels Have Parts x Chapters x Subchapters? Sections?

I searched for this one and didn't quite got what I needed. I've found that Books have chapters, and then there are mentions of sections, but none seem to be mentioning this in novels, more like ...
KSDS's user avatar
  • 1
3 votes
2 answers
229 views

“If you are rested I would go,” I urged. Meaning?

I was trying to translate this sentence but I got confused in this sentence. Does the sentence "I would go" mean something like "I would go if I were you"? This sentence is from ...
Emre Oral's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
68 views

What does "the firmament of the body" mean?

Many dictionaries define "the firmament" as the sky. OK But I don't understand the word "the firmament of the body" at all. What does it mean..?
Clean93's user avatar
  • 57
35 votes
3 answers
8k views

What does the ‘thank you very much’ mean in “they were perfectly normal, thank you very much”?

I have started reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I was way too excited for my first English book reading. But after I started reading it, I got stuck and can’t go onward. The question ...
Ebdullah Khan's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
64 views

Correct usage of 'would have'

In Lord of the Rings The Two Towers king Theoden says the following line: Saruman's arm would have grown long indeed if he hopes to reach us here. As a non native speaker I would have said it like ...
Michael Munta's user avatar
2 votes
3 answers
60 views

What does this mean?: "So monstrous was I then ready to pronounce it that the child should be under an interdict."

I'm reading The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, and I've found it difficult to understand the meaning of the sentence pasted below. I suppose it can be roughly paraphrased to "I was monstrous, ...
Ampan's user avatar
  • 707
1 vote
1 answer
46 views

what does hiding an uneasy conscience with a judicial air mean

What does hiding an uneasy conscience with a judicial air mean? I've quoted it from Pygmalion, a play by George Bernard Shaw.
Moustafa Saad's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
43 views

Meaning of "When the sentences are as finely tuned as Garner’s, music as much as character is fate"

What “communicates” with the “creature” inside these characters is music more than speech. This book is short the way Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus” is short—it passes over in silence what language could ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
46 views

Meaning of "fiction of roundness"

About the people in this book, we will often be suddenly not so sure. A book about, among other things, families and “the rough sexual world that lies outside of families,” “The Children’s Bach” is an ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
1k views

What's the meaning of "What is A but B?"

I don't quite get this sentence: What is the son but an extension of the father? (from Dune by Frank Herbert) Does it mean "Can the son be anything else but an extension of the father?"
Ethan Chen's user avatar
2 votes
3 answers
96 views

The meaning of "regular triplet"

Behind the mare was plainly audible the cadence of a swiftly trotting horse. “D’you hear anything?” said Guj. “No—nothing but the regular triplet,” said Hordene; and he lied when he answered. This is ...
Hiroshi Inagaki's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
37 views

"from out there" - can it mean a different world or something like that?

I have been reading a lot of lovecraftian stories and in some of them, there is often a phrase such as "something from out there". There is e.g. a story by August Derleth that is called just ...
John V's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
50 views

are Martha Sarah and Marther Sarer the same names in "The Distracted Preacher" by Thomas Hardy?

In beginning of The Distracted Preacher a maid is introduced in Newberry estate. It seems that both names refer to the same person and different spelling deals with different pronunciation. Quote: A ...
Sina Shahbaba's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
108 views

What does "puffs" mean in this context?

And a Centre of Advanced Technology isn't going to be allowed to regard literature as a technology, even though it is. Look at the authors already out of print and likely to remain so. The levelling's ...
1amroff's user avatar
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0 votes
3 answers
75 views

Meaning of sentences from an introduction to "The House of the Dead"

From Julius Bramont's introduction to a 1911 edition of The House of the Dead by "Fedor Dostoïeffsky", from Project Gutenberg: Hence his rage with the calmer men, more gracious interpreters ...
Celester's user avatar
-3 votes
1 answer
49 views

Translate this sentence. Rewrite it in your own words. Why does Conroy reference all of these works of literature in this paragraph? [closed]

I have read like a man on fire my whole life because the genius of English teachers touched me with the dazzling beauty of language.-Pat Conroy This is from "A Letter to the Editor of the ...
Blake Dyer's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
42 views

Meaning of "are they worth it? It was a secret showing of badges, of scars" [closed]

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner They sat in the high seats at the back of the bus, and Poppy sank into her book. Up at the front sat a European woman in her forties, dressed ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
27 views

Meaning of "eventlets"

What was the thing? They pointed out these eventlets to each other. They did not discuss or pass judgment, but defined themselves against the attitudes revealed by the unwitting characters in these ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
38 views

Meaning of "something fancy and successful about her"

Doctor Fox looked at Elizabeth as he chewed, and nodded and smiled. She must be nearly forty now, like Dex. Thank God they were never foolish enough to marry, though no doubt Dexter had poked her when ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
43 views

Meaning of "self-conscience"

‘I might go out,’ said Vicki. ‘People’s parents never like me.’ ‘My parents do,’ said Arthur. ‘Older parents, I meant,’ said Vicki. ‘They might wonder exactly what you’re doing here,’ said Arthur. ‘In ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
52 views

Meaning of "He was in its moral universe"

He sat at the ravaged table and watched the girl dry herself with efficient strokes, sawing between her toes and twisting her shoulders to reach the backs of her thighs. This was modern life, then, ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
448 views

Can the verb "to impress someone with something" be used in a negative way?

I am quoting from the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Greek Interpreter by Arthur Conan Doyle: His visitor, on entering his rooms, had drawn a life-preserver from his sleeve, and had so impressed him ...
user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
50 views

What does "abrading" mean in "my heart is racing and cool traces of sweat are abrading my neck"?

In the novel Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow, there's the following passage: Three a.m. When I awake my heart is racing and cool traces of sweat are abrading my neck, so that in the idiocy of sleep ...
T. K.'s user avatar
  • 81
1 vote
1 answer
76 views

What is the meaning of this sentence from Thomas Hardy's book?

There is a paragraph in beginning of Thomas Hardy's "The Distracted Preacher": But when those of the inhabitants who styled themselves of his connection became acquainted with him, they ...
Sina Shahbaba's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
44 views

Meaning of "two empty sets of garments hung opposite each other in a cupboard."

‘Where have you been all day?’ said Philip. ‘I waited for you. Let’s go out and eat.’ ‘I’m going on the train. Tonight.’ ‘Wait another couple of days. We’ll fly back.’ She shook her head. The music ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
75 views

Meaning of "now that the blood had gone out of them"

‘Where have you been all day?’ said Philip. ‘I waited for you. Let’s go out and eat.’ ‘I’m going on the train. Tonight.’ ‘Wait another couple of days. We’ll fly back.’ She shook her head. The music ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
695 views

Middlemarch, meaning of a sentence in Chapter 2

The following are the last two paragraphs of the second chapter of George Eliot's Middlemarch: He was not in the least jealous of the interest with which Dorothea had looked up at Mr. Casaubon: it ...
Shimrod's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
52 views

Meaning of "just leave in the images..."

She walked down the neon streets, and up again, and found her way back to the hotel. It was dark. He was lying on the bed watching a band on television. A girl was sitting at the dressing table, also ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
52 views

Meaning of "old houses full of stone and shutters and anachronistic lace. They notice that the..."

What do tourists do? They walk, they stand, they look, they buy. They fumble for money on buses, not knowing whether to pay the driver or the conductor. They visit famous monuments, fountains, old ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
47 views

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 ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar

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