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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100 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
15 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
20 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
42 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
34 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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1answer
21 views

How to understand the structure “on account of because”?

Well, what if I make the drinks and you charge us your price on account of because we can mix the drinks we are mixing. (from the book Call Me by Your Name) How to understand the structure "on ...
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29 views

Use of the subjunctive in context

Twelve steeds unmatch’d in fleetness and in force, And still victorious in the dusty course; (Rich were the man whose ample stores exceed The prizes purchased by their winged speed;) Extract from ...
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1answer
40 views

Can we write the part in bold like I wrote?

All this – the house and the remnants of the pasture land, the seashore below the pale clay cliffs, the walk along it to the fishing village of Kilauran, the avenue over which the high branches of the ...
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1answer
23 views

How should “double-consciousness” be interpreted in this passage?

It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused ...
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2answers
16 views

“Of the mutinous forces that lie so thinly screened behind life..” - what does “screen” mean here?

In a story by A. Blackwood, I am unable to find out the correct meaning of "screen" in the following sentence: Of the mutinous forces that lie so thinly screened behind life, dropping from ...
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1answer
18 views

Are “air-waves” the same as “ether-waves”? I cannot find the meaning of the latter

In a story I am reading, I would like to know what "ether-waves" mean: The odd thing really is that one should hear, but not see; that air-waves should bring the voice, yet ether-waves fail ...
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1answer
12 views

“swept in this extraordinary, incredible fashion into > invisibility— into some other place.” understanding the meaning

Reading an old story, I have some problems with understanding the following (esp. the part in bold): it was this very day fifty years ago—February 13—the man disappeared from its shadows; swept in ...
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1answer
45 views

what does the author (Mario Pujo) mean by the following sentence?

What does the author (Mario Pujo) mean by the following sentence from The Godfather? There was no greater natural advantage in life than having an enemy overestimate your faults unless it was to have ...
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1answer
17 views

The afternoon had been utterly still and airless, with a sultry brooding in its silence. --“sultry brooding”?

I have been reading a story by C.A. Smith, and I am not sure how the following can be understood: The afternoon had been utterly still and airless, with a sultry brooding in its silence. For the ...
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3answers
1k views

What does “eternal skill” mean?

Reading the story An Egyptian Hornet by A.Blackwood, I am not sure what to make of the following sentence: (for the context, a reverend hopes for a hornet to sting his enemy): “May God forgive me!” ...
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1answer
34 views

“Human motives are an involved affair” - meaning in a sample text

This is a paragraph (13th) from An Egyptian Hornet, a short story by Algernon Blackwood: Human motives, even in the professedly holy, are an involved affair at any time. Just now, in the Rev. James ...
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2answers
34 views

“It was wonderfully made” - meaning?

I would like to know what the first sentence means (from a story, it is a description of a hornet): It was wonderfully made, both before and behind. Its wings were folded upon its terrible body.
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20 views

“where I could hold myself unmanacled to meet it” - particular meaning of “hold myself” in this sentence?

I would like to ask for help with understanding the "hold myself" in the following snippet: A sense of glad relief came over me that I had left the closeness of the little attic chamber, ...
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0answers
23 views

“Message as of life or death” - what does “as of” mean here?

In the following sentence, I understand everything but the "as of" part: It was the awareness that some speeding messenger from spaces far, far beyond the world would presently stand close ...
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3answers
487 views

What does “little earth” mean when used as an adjective?

In the following sentence (from a story called Messenger by A. Blackwood): Nothing upon the earth— familiar, friendly, well-known, little earth—could have brought this sense that pressed upon the ...
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1answer
20 views

What does “as soon as you can” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "as soon as you can" means in the following sentences: ‘I know you are not in the Party,’ he said, his voice barely more than a whisper, ‘and it’s too late to join ...
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1answer
13 views

What does “ungenerously, wishing I could help her” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "ungenerously, wishing I could help her" means in the following sentences: ‘I don’t mean to pry.’ She shifted, visibly uncomfortable, vulnerable even, but not ...
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1answer
14 views

What does “It carried messages I had never expected were there.” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "It carried messages I had never expected were there." means in the following sentences: ‘What is this?’ I asked. Hania looked around the group, everyone smiling ...
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1answer
16 views

What does “I wasn’t even sure why I’d come.” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "I wasn’t even sure why I’d come." means in the following sentences: ‘No,’ I said to the man’s stony face. ‘I don’t have any names.’ It wasn’t easy – he was ...
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1answer
10 views

What does “anything that wasn’t that moment – no, not even that – was beyond me” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "anything that wasn’t that moment – no, not even that – was beyond me" means in the following sentences: I sat in the hallway and tried not to cry. I wanted to ...
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0answers
15 views

What does “oblong and wide like several sports fields and bordering the forest” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "oblong and wide like several sports fields and bordering the forest" means in the following sentences: ‘Isn’t this house something?’ you said as we put down our ...
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2answers
27 views

What does “The moment I’d been sure would come.” mean in “Swimming in the Dark”?

I would like to know what "The moment I’d been sure would come." means in the following sentences: I wiped my face and thanked her. She stood still, looking down at me. ‘You love him, don’t ...
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1answer
15 views

“a moment next of such confusion” and one other question related to a sample from an old story

I would like to ask two questions regarding the following sentence: There was a moment next of such confusion that I did not see what happened to Riquette, for the sight of my companion kneeling on ...
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2answers
41 views

What does “accelerated, but still” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "accelerated, but still" means in the following sentences: ‘I’m a …’ I tried and failed under her gaze. It was the same feeling, the same pulling to and fro, that ...
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1answer
35 views

What does “A moment pulled into its smallest parts” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "A moment pulled into its smallest parts" means in the following sentences: At first, there was emptiness. Thoughts flew through space, trying to ignite. A sky ...
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0answers
19 views

“the night held other purposes than our own…” - what is meant by “our own” when referring to purposes of the night related to people?

I am sorry for the possibly unclear title, I could not find a better one. I understand the sentence below: Into the little room, however, in that moment there came between us this uncomfortable sense ...
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1answer
16 views

“And her air of intently, secretly listening, bordered, I felt, upon the uncanny” - how to replace “air” here?

Reading an old story, I am trying to figure out the meaning of "air"in the following sentence: But ‘mother’ listened the whole time—not to me. Her thoughts were all elsewhere. And her air ...
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1answer
21 views

What does “a force of their own, agents of relief and consolation” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "a force of their own, agents of relief and consolation" means in the following sentences: ‘I’m a—’ My voice almost steady. ‘I’m a homosexual.’ The world did not ...
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0answers
14 views

What does “until the pain began to prickle and I was out of options, out of breath” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "until the pain began to prickle and I was out of options, out of breath" means in the following sentences: The night had grown colder. The street was empty. The ...
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1answer
47 views

What does “My back reached for soreness” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "My back reached for soreness" means in the following sentences: I saw you and Hania slung together, dancing, oblivious to me on the other side of the window. My ...
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1answer
39 views

What does “slung together” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "slung together" means in the following sentences: I saw you and Hania slung together, dancing, oblivious to me on the other side of the window. My stomach began ...
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1answer
65 views

Can “stile” mean another thing than steps over a fence?

Reading a story called Ancient Lights, and I am not sure if the meaning is the one mentioned in the title: He had that instinct, and as a rule it served him well. “A mile or so due west along the ...
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1answer
19 views

“Chanctonbury Ring rode their crest—a scudding ship, hull down before the wind” - meaning

I have learned that Chanctonbury Ring is an old fort, but it does not make it easier for me to understand the following (From A.Bierce's story): Far away the line of Downs swept the horizon, like an ...
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1answer
28 views

Meaning of “They shared the blame for old Hannah’s miserable silence”

But Lucy knew it would be. It was for ever for the Morells and the Gouvernets. The Boyces had gone up to the North, Henry said, the house was under auction. She guessed what that meant from his voice, ...
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1answer
54 views

What does “even thus” mean?

Working through another C.A. Smith's story, I fail to understand what "even thus" mean. Not even Googling could answer the question because most sources just state the examples with no hints ...
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1answer
21 views

..dread with a manfiold fear" - manifold? A sentence from an old story

I would like to understand what "manifold" here is supposed to mean because it does not make sense to me in its usual meaning (marked by diversity or variety; many..), esp. when used with &...
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2answers
16 views

Meaning of “the sense of family”

They knew each other well, the Captain and his wife. They had in common a certain way of life, an order of priorities and concerns. Their shared experience of death when they were young had drawn them ...
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1answer
14 views

Meaning of “to have been stifled by the stand he'd taken”

She it was, Heloise insisted, who drew attention to the house, but her husband doubted it. He reminded her that what had been attempted at Lahardane was part of a pattern that was repeated all over ...
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1answer
25 views

Can a “poem” mean something else than its usual meaning? (A sentence from H.P. Lovecraft's work)

The story is about a marble villa, which is in the following sentence referred to as a poem: Lone and shaken mourned the humble courts and the lower walls, for upon the sumptuous greater peristyle ...
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1answer
20 views

Sharp expectancy - what does “sharp” express here?

Trying to understand the following sentence from H.P. Lovecraft's Tree: Many months passed, yet in the sour face of Musides came nothing of the sharp expectancy which the situation should arouse. ...
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1answer
24 views

“forms of beauty which later became immortal in breathing marble” - breating marble?

Reading a story by H. P. Lovecraft, I am unsure about the meaning of "breathing" in the following: There he would meditate upon the visions that filled his mind, and there devise the forms ...
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5answers
217 views

What's the meaning of “to beat the bleach out of the chick’s skin”?

I told her to organize some boys to beat the bleach out of the chick’s skin, but she was quoting scripture, saying God will fight her battles. I searched online dictionaries for bleach but the ...
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4answers
1k views

“…presume not God to scan” – what does it mean?

I came across a line from the poem An Essay on Man: Epistle II by Alexander Pope, and I don't understand it in terms of grammar and meaning. Could you help me understand it, please? The passage is: ...
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2answers
30 views

“Try as I like to find the way, I never can get back by day. ”

Could you please help me understand the two following sentences: Try as I like to find the way, I never can get back by day. As you can imagine I do understand each word separately, however the ...