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    #1

    resolvable constituents

    Hello, teachers.
    I am completely at a loss how to understand the following paragaraph (from "The Nebuly Coat" Project Gutenberg text)

    ...the little group moved up the nave, enveloped in an atmosphere of its own, of which wet overcoats and umbrellas were resolvable constituents. The air in the church was raw and cold, and a smell of sodden matting drew Westray’s attention to the fact that the roofs were not water-tight, and that there were pools of rain-water on the floor in many places.

    What I don't understand is "of which wet overcoats and umbrellas were resolvable constituents" part. They are walking inside the cathedral, and I understand the nave is enveloped in an atomosphere of its own surrounded by huge Roman pillars and vaulting. But why is it that wet overcoats and umbrellas are the elements of the specific forms being defined? Prior to this passage, the novel says "The heavy sheets of rain in the air, the misty water-dust raised by the drops as they struck the roofs, and the vapour steaming from the earth, drew over everything a veil invisible yet visible, which softened outlines like the gauze curtain in a theatre." I imagine the inside of the minster might be beclouded by mist, too, and everything might look blurred, but why are overcoats and umbrellas exceptions? Or does my interpretation totally miss the point? I appreciate any suggestions. Thank you!!

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    #2

    Re: resolvable constituents

    ...the little group moved up the nave, enveloped in an atmosphere of its own, of which wet overcoats and umbrellas were resolvable constituents.

    What a poor phrase!

    You were right to look for context clues to try to explain the meaning, but I just went to the dictionary and tried to pick out definitions that would work in that context.

    I think he means to say that wet overcoats and umbrellas were (resolvable constituents) expected components of that whole scenario.

    Maybe someone else will have another idea. . . .


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    #3

    Re: resolvable constituents

    Quote Originally Posted by imchongjun View Post
    Hello, teachers.
    I am completely at a loss how to understand the following paragaraph (from "The Nebuly Coat" Project Gutenberg text)

    ...the little group moved up the nave, enveloped in an atmosphere of its own, of which wet overcoats and umbrellas were resolvable constituents. The air in the church was raw and cold, and a smell of sodden matting drew Westray’s attention to the fact that the roofs were not water-tight, and that there were pools of rain-water on the floor in many places.

    What I don't understand is "of which wet overcoats and umbrellas were resolvable constituents" part. They are walking inside the cathedral, and I understand the nave is enveloped in an atomosphere of its own surrounded by huge Roman pillars and vaulting. But why is it that wet overcoats and umbrellas are the elements of the specific forms being defined? Prior to this passage, the novel says "The heavy sheets of rain in the air, the misty water-dust raised by the drops as they struck the roofs, and the vapour steaming from the earth, drew over everything a veil invisible yet visible, which softened outlines like the gauze curtain in a theatre." I imagine the inside of the minster might be beclouded by mist, too, and everything might look blurred, but why are overcoats and umbrellas exceptions? Or does my interpretation totally miss the point? I appreciate any suggestions. Thank you!!
    They have a particular smell and dampness which forms part of the atmosphere in the building - they are resolvable [identifiable] constituents [parts].

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    #4

    Re: resolvable constituents

    Thank you, susiedqq, for your interpretation and very comforting comment. Whenever I come across a passage I don't understand, I always think it is my English that is "poor".
    And I thank you, Anglika, for providing an interpretation from a new angle. I have never thought of "smell" as part of the atmosphere, but now come to think of it, I think that makes sense. Thank you!!

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