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    #1

    Interpretation issues

    Hi. I need your help in understanding this sentence, especially the last part: "As to the former notion he confessed his inability to comprehend it; and here I agreed with him — for, however conclusive on paper, it becomes altogether unintelligible, and even absurd, amid the thunder of the abyss."

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    #2

    Re: Interpretation issues

    I guess it depends on what "the thunder of the abyss" means. What is the context?

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    #3

    Re: Interpretation issues

    The thunder of the abyss might be a shakespearian illustration / it could emphasize the fact that it becomes altogether unintelligible/absurd ?
    These are just thoughts.

    Not a teacher.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Interpretation issues

    Here is an excerpt from the original piece: A Descent into the Maelstrom by Edgar Allen Poe

    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/poe/descent.html

    The attempts to account for the phenomenon --some of which, I remember, seemed to me sufficiently plausible in perusal --now wore a very different and unsatisfactory aspect. The idea generally received is that this, as well as three smaller vortices among the Feroe islands, "have no other cause than the collision of waves rising and falling, at flux and reflux, against a ridge of rocks and shelves, which confines the water so that it precipitates itself like a cataract; and thus the higher the flood rises, the deeper must the fall be, and the natural result of all is a whirlpool or vortex, the prodigious suction of which is sufficiently known by lesser experiments." --These are the words of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Kircher and others imagine that in the centre of the channel of the Maelstrom is an abyss penetrating the globe, and issuing in some very remote part --the Gulf of Bothnia being somewhat decidedly named in one instance. This opinion, idle in itself, was the one to which, as I gazed, my imagination most readily assented; and, mentioning it to the guide, I was rather surprised to hear him say that, although it was the view almost universally entertained of the subject by the Norwegians, it nevertheless was not his own. As to the former notion he confessed his inability to comprehend it; and here I agreed with him --for, however conclusive on paper, it becomes altogether unintelligible, and even absurd, amid the thunder of the abyss.

    It is possible that the phrase refers to the loud sound of water flowing into the abyss.

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    #5

    Re: Interpretation issues

    So the overall gist is that this phenomenon is easy to understand intellectually when you are sitting in comfort reading a description. But it is a different situation altogether when you are faced with the sights and sounds of the actual thing.

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    #6

    Re: Interpretation issues

    Now it is all clear. Thank you all.

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