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Wu Ting
How would you interpret this sentence? Your friend Mr. Morrison recommended an editor who sheds a glimmer of interest in looking at the thing. His response has forced me outdoors three days in a row, blinking like an owl, in search of an envelope or packaging to carry the manuscript to New York. This effort may take longer than writing the book. Stationer’s stores no longer have even enough paper for the standard sign declaring their product has gone to the front. The editor may be spared his trouble, due to the paper shortage. Probably the manuscript itself should be heaved over in the next paper drive, as ballast for a warship. How would you interpret this sentence: Stationer’s stores no longer have even enough paper for the standard sign declaring their product has gone to the front? Does it mean the stationers’ didn’t even have enough paper to make a ordinary sign to declare that their product had gone to the front? Thanks!
Nov 25, 2014 1:41 AM
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Answers · 6
Gordon, here are the elements: 1. It is a complaint in a letter to a friend. 2. The point is, "I can't get paper. There is a shortage. A lot of paper is being used by the war effort." 3. The "fronts" are the physical theatres of war. It may or may not have been true that the paper was consumed by frontline soldiers, but the point is that the war had made resources scarce. 4. Continuing this vein of complaint and perhaps slightly dramatic exaggeration (as is usual when one is writing to a friend or lover), the "not enough paper" may or may not have been literal. The point is, "I can't get paper, and the shops don't post notices on their doors or shop windows that they have run out of paper. So I have to waste time to go in and ask, only to be disappointed. How frustrating and annoying!" 5. In reality, stationers' couldn't be expected to post a long list on the door on items they were short of in times of war. So the point is to express annoyance and frustration, and not whether the stationers had that one piece of paper to write a notice on. So in reading your novel, you need to think about life and history as well. That is why a balanced liberal arts syllabus is so important even in high school. I understand that is something that teachers and parents in your country are not yet convinced of. Your schools are basically exam crammers.
November 25, 2014
The passage should be read in the context of its prevailing tone. The tone is one of exaggeration induced by frustration. See.for example, "This effort may take longer than writing the book." Did the protagonist truly believe that there was any likelihood that finding paper packaging for his manuscript would take longer than writing the book book? A "yes" answer would seem to me to be singularly unintelligent and insensitive. Did he also truly believe that the manuscript, relatively light, should be and could be used as ballast (heavy stabiliser) for a warship?
November 25, 2014
That is a literal interpretation. The real question facing a thoughtful reader is, "Is a literal interpretation the best interpretation?" This is a literary work, not a report of the National Bureau of Statistics.
November 25, 2014
Thank you. Your answer is what I want to ask for.
November 25, 2014
to answer your question simply: yes, i think so. basically, they don't even have enough paper to tell us they don't have paper
November 25, 2014
Wu Ting
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English, French
Learning Language
English