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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14 views

“and in all places their lot is…” - meaning of “lot” here

Rading a story from C.A. Smith, I am unsure of the meaning in the following sentence (in bold): For Melchior was one of those who are born with an immedicable distaste for all that is present or near ...
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2answers
36 views

What does it mean (figuratively) “scale a gulf”?

Reading another story, I cannot decipher the meaning of the following phrase: My hand and arm, reaching up to make sure that the graph was correctly adjusted on my forehead over the pineal gland, ...
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2answers
37 views

half-column means terse?

In the opening paragraph to “The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Watson writes: The story has, I believe, been told more than once in the newspapers, but, like all such ...
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21 views

What does it mean to “bow reversely”?

In a short story I am reading, demons are "bowing reversely" (in the presence of the Devil himself). What does it mean? Bowing reversely, Gorson, Goap, Zimimar and Amaimon, lords of the ...
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2answers
18 views

“Think it well to” - meaning?

I have encountered a phrase "think sth well" and I cannot seem to find any sources explaining the meaning: The demon thought it well to conceal his consternation. Does it mean to "...
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2answers
28 views

Checking the speed of my interstellar flight - stopping or inspecting?

Reading an old story about a demon flying between galaxies, the following sentence is unclear to me: Checking the speed of my interstellar flight, I followed its equator with a poised and level wing, ...
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1answer
28 views

“tree.. Room opening upon it.” - meaning?

I would like to understand the following sentence, as the meaning of "opening upon" is not clear to me: There was a compound adjoining, filled with rank reed and a solitary pipal tree. ...
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1answer
23 views

“in a measure for the bustle and blare and intrigue” - meaning?

Reading another story from C.A. Smith, I have been trying to figure out the following sentence, to no avail: It consoled him in a measure for the bustle and blare and intrigue of the imperial court, ...
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32 views

“at a distance of leagues, being plainly of megalithic vastness”…full meaning?

Reading another story by Clark Ashton Smith, I would like to ask your help with the following sentence: The rock of the whole mountain was strangely ruinous and black; but the city walls, though ...
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2answers
21 views

A few problems with a sentence (a tale from circa 1930)

Reading an old tale, I have a problem with the following sentences (because of the context, I pasted also the preceding sentence): My memory is not what it was, and there are certain lacunae for ...
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2answers
72 views

It was a place of palms and sand and cuffs - is “cuffs” a typo?

I am translating a story by Clark Ashton Smith, which contains the following part: It was a place of palms and sand and cuffs, with a small harbor sheltered by the curving outstretched arms of rugged ...
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1answer
15 views

“It isn't a circumstance to what is going to happen” - meaning?

For the context, a character is going to attack an unsuspecting enemy, who just woke up and: "What happened?" he articulated at last. "Never mind what happened. It isn't a circumstance ...
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1answer
15 views

“Wine is a mocker, strong drinkg is raging” - what does the latter part mean?

In a story from C.A. Smith, there is a following sentence in the very beginning: I thank you, friend, but I am no drinker of wine, not even if it be the rarest Canary or the oldest Amontillado. Wine ...
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1answer
23 views

“A silver dollar, find a handkerchief marked … ” - what is the “find a”?

I am readíing some tales from C.A. Smith, and found the following sentence: A silver dollar, find a handkerchief marked with Buckingham's initials, were also round not far from the note-book. I do ...
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1answer
41 views

I can't understand the meaning of the phrase in a book

So I am very interested what this means: "Resin streaks outline his light switch, and...", because to me it really seems like a bunch of random words. As I don't understand this piece, I can'...
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42 views

Meaning of a 16th century verse [closed]

What does this verse mean? Do fain and use have archaic meanings here? When first Amyntas su'd for a Kiss, My innocent Heart was tender; That tho‘ I push'd him away from the bliss, My Eyes declar'd ...
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2answers
39 views

Use of negative to emphasize rhetorical question

How many of you despised him unfairly? / How many of you didn’t despise him unfairly? How much money did you throw away last month? / How much money didn’t you throw away last month? Once all ...
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40 views

Does “law” here refer to a scientific law?

Does "law" here refer to a scientific law? The first outstanding incident was the mediumship of the Eddy brothers, which has probably never been excelled in the matter of materialization, ...
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1answer
21 views

What does “The scale is always heavily weighted” mean?

What does "The scale is always heavily weighted" mean? Even at the present day the air is charged with prejudice. If any man of standing at the present instant were to enter a London ...
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1answer
33 views

“North-country” refers to where? [closed]

"North-country" refers to where? The author has come to the conclusion, as already stated, that up to a point they are under the control of the medium, and that beyond that point they are ...
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1answer
77 views

Does “ark of God” mean “Ark of the Covenant”? Does “I die with the Lord” mean “ I die for the Lord”?

Does the "ark of God" mean the "Ark of the Covenant"? Does "I die with the Lord" mean " I die for the Lord"? To the unfettered mind this sect or that seems a ...
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1answer
68 views

Is a “gas burner” something like a “stove”? room=space?

Is a "gas burner" something like a "stove"? room=space? She took up her station against the drawing-room wall, with her arms extended as if she were crucified. Then three gas-burners were turned ...
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1answer
28 views

What does “public acceptance” here mean?

What does "public acceptance" here mean? Does it allude to their confession to spiritual interpretation before the public? “We have had experience in these latter days of mediums giving ...
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2answers
39 views

Does “it argues ill” mean the same as “augurs ill”?

Does "commend" mean "praise"? Does "it argues ill" mean the same as "augurs ill" or not? Dr. (afterwards Professor) Balfour Stewart, in a communication to ...
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27 views

Are “stern” and “just” adjectives for “spirit”? Does “spirit” refer to a supernatural being?

Are "stern" and "just" adjectives for "spirit"? Does "spirit" refer to a supernatural being? The research into the phenomena of Spiritualism by Sir William ...
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1answer
24 views

What's the meaning of “for” and “of” in this sentence?

This is the first paragraph of the novel Bones in London by Edgar Wallace: “There was a slump in the shipping market, and men who were otherwise decent citizens wailed for one hour of glorious war, ...
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22 views

does the phrase “to get all sad” is used anywhere? If so, can you give me an example?

I am translating a short story from Turkish to English and in one of the places where the emotions are supposed to be really intense I cannot achieve the same meaning, at least I think I don't. In the ...
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1answer
35 views

Problem with “discoursed of”

I am reading Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and am confused by the first sentence: "The mental features discoursed of as the analytical, are, in themselves, but little susceptible of analysis. ...
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38 views

agreat vs. a great vs. greater

Here is a quotation from the movie Great Expectations Part 2 (1999; Director: Julian Jarrold) If the danger would be 50 times agreat I should still have come to you. The meaning is clearly "...
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1answer
64 views

What is 'assonance'?

What is the exact definition of the literary device assonance? This web site Literary Devices explains it as: Assonance takes place when two or more words, close to one another repeat the same ...
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4answers
236 views

What does “hangs a cloud of thoughts…” mean?

I want to know what this sentence means; particularly the part that says "hangs a cloud of thoughts": About what goes on today hangs a cloud of thoughts concerning similar things undergone in ...
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1answer
73 views

What does “when gents as is flush” mean?

A zookeeper explaining how to approach animals: 'Ittin' of them over the 'ead with a pole is one way; scratchin' of their hears is another, when gents as is flush wants a bit of a show-orf to their ...
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2answers
21 views

What does after the wisest mean in this context

This is a quote from "The Tempest" by Stephano: He's in his fit now and does not talk after the wisest. What does "after the wisest" mean in this context? According to most of the sources of ...
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2answers
94 views

In Haruki Murakami's “Barn Burning”, I don't understand a quote involving the phrase “a priori” which I also only barely understand

Here's the quote: “I was married, but that didn’t matter, either. She seemed to consider things like age and income and family to be of the same a priori order as shoe size and vocal pitch and ...
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1answer
60 views

on a daily line

I'm having trouble understanding the meaning of these words at the end of the second chapter of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The narrator reflects on what Tom Sawyer has learned in manipulating all ...
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2answers
103 views

Am I reading this wrong? Or is my understanding anachronical?

I started reading this short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, What to Do About It, published in 1933. And the story starts with a character trying to free a wheel from a tirelock: [...] he continued ...
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1answer
51 views

Meaning of Cobwebbed in context

...Rain, yet so fine it could scarcely fall but rather floated. It clung to everything it touched; the rushes in the deep choked ditches of the sea-marsh were bowed down with it, the small black ...
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1answer
54 views

Paraphrase of “all of life has been a farce”, etc [closed]

In her collection of short stories, “Homesick for Another World,” a little girl is convinced that a hole will open up in the earth and take her straight to paradise, if only she murders the right ...
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1answer
40 views

Paraphase of “the power to conjure reality through writing”

It was like an enactment of the world inhabited by the protagonist of Moshfegh’s forthcoming novel, “My Year of Rest and Relaxation,” who works at a gallery in Chelsea, amid objects like a quarter-...
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130 views

The meaning of “a little Moor and how much it is”

The Duke of Falvertoon was one of those human hors d'oeuvres that stimulate the public appetite for sensation without giving it much to feed on. As a mere child he had been precociously brilliant; ...
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1answer
329 views

What is the meaning of “and it’s you are” in the poem I carry your heart with me?

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] BY E. E. CUMMINGS i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)i am never without it(anywhere i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done by only me is ...
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1answer
66 views

Modern British English novels suitable for learning English [closed]

I am learning English and for that purpose (among other things) I want to read a few novels. I have made a list of novels selected by personal taste, but since I am still learning, I am afraid that ...
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721 views

Dialogue consisting of questions and answers?

Is there a specific word for a dialogue between two characters in a play or novel, where that dialogue only consists of questions and answers?
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4answers
13k views

The meaning of “half woman, half girl”

"It was the same mirror I'd gazed into as a child, then as a girl, then as a youth, half woman, half girl." Educated by Tara Westover What does "half woman" mean? (For example: A ...
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376 views

Why is there no definite article in front of the word “wind” in the phrase “little eddies of wind”?

Why is the article "the" missing from the noun "wind" in the following excerpt? Outside, even through the shut window-pane, the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were ...
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3k views

Should I capitalize Satan in my paper? [closed]

I am writing an essay on Paradise Lost, and the character satan comes up frequently. I know in the bible God or LORD is always capitalized, but should the same be done for satan? Isn't it kind of ...
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2answers
556 views

A word to say I'm “full of expectations and impatient to see it”?

When I watch series and I just "can't wait" until the next episode, is it OK to say "I'm stretched how it's going to end"? A simple translation from google gives me tight and uptight.
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43 views

Similar phrases to a “situation close to life”?

In Czech, when we talk about a scene in a book/movie that reminds us of our own lives, we say it is very "from life" (ze života). What are the ways to express such feeling in English?
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3k views

GRE - Primary purpose of the passage about The Life of Charlotte Bronte

Source In The Life of Charlotte Bronte (1857), the first and the most celebrated biography of novelist Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell promoted the long-persisting romantic view of Bronte as ...
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2k views

A controversial GRE reading question(Buell’ study of village sketches…)

Source Buell’s study of village sketches (a type of fiction popular in the United States in the 1830s and 1840s) provides a valuable summary of sketches that portray the community as homogeneous ...