.1) Word of Holmes's literary reputaion would spread like sensational gossip, someone securing a copy of The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table and circulating it, remarking with an incredulous stare to a fellow, "You haven't yet read the Autocrat?" But his literary reputation among the students was more a reputation of a reputation.
What does "more a reputation of a reputation" here mean? The students know Holmes not by his reputation as a writer but a reputation of something else (like from gossips??) Because people are recommending his book, the students believe that Holmes was better-known than he actually was. They have no real evidence that he is famous.
2) The bright faces in any class to which the professor naturally directs his lectures to intermediate for the rest.
does this phrase imply that the teacher normally teach the smart students in the class so they can help their classmates? intermediate = act as an agent to help others? It's an odd sentence which doesn't look complete. "intermediate">verb = mediate - which doesn't make it any clearer. If it is the noun intermediate = an intermediate person, it still doesn't help. Is it possible that your source is corrupted?
3) "Oh, throw a stone in Cambridge, and you're bound to hit a two-volumer."
any idea? Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the location of Harvard University, so it was full of academics who have written books published in two volumes.
4) He was strangled by boredom in the required recitation hours of rote memorizing and repeating verses of Euripides' Hecuba that had long ago been pummeled of meaning.
had long ago been pummeled of meaning = required time to intrepret the meaning? Had been so intensively and continually analysed that it has lost all meaning.
5) do you know what "demendous" means? I couldn't find its meaning. The sentence says..."shaking like tremulous demendous or delirious tremendous or something of that sort" looks like a modern creation - combining delirious and tremendous
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