Interested in Language
Here is what I would like to ask someone to help me with.
"Quick as the ship had sped westwards, the earth had rolled eastwards quicker still, and had dragged back Vashti and her companions towards the sun. Science could prolong the night, but only for a little, and those high hopes of neutralizing the earth´s diurnal revolution had passed, together with hopes that were possibly higher. To "keep pace with the sun," or even to outstrip it, had been the aim of the civilization preceding this. Racing aeroplanes had been built for the purpose, capable of enormous speed, and steered by the greatest intellects of the epoch. Round the globe they went, round and round, westward, westward, round and round, amidst humanity"s applause. In vain. The globe went eastward quicker still, horrible accidents occurred, and the Committee of the Machine, at the time rising into prominence, declared the pursuit illegal, unmechanical, and punishable by Homelessness."
The Machine Stpos, E.M.Foster, 1909
I have trouble in understanding the bold text; does it mean they wanted to stop physically the earth´s revolution or simply "to keep pace with the sun, or even to outstrip it," as we can read in one of the successive sentences?
They wanted to keep pace with the sun.
I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....