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    bottomless pit

    Dear teachers,

    I like to read English literature at that I give preference to books that are written in whimsical, figurative English language. I read a short story by Joseph Conrad this week:"Karain: A Memory". To my great regret I stumbled from the very beginning of the text.

    Would you be kind enough to explain to me the proper meaning of the expression in bold below?

    The bay was like a bottomless pit of intense light. The circular sheet of water reflected
    a luminous sky, and the shores enclosing it made an opaque ring of earth floating in an
    emptiness of transparent blue. The hills, purple and arid, stood out heavily on the sky:
    their summits seemed to fade into a colored tremble as of ascending vapor; their steep
    sides were streaked with the green of narrow ravines; at their foot lay rice-fields,
    plantain-patches, yellow sands. A torrent wound about like a dropped thread. Clumps
    of fruit-trees marked the villages; slim palms put their nodding heads together above the
    low houses; dried palm-leaf roofs shone afar, like roofs of gold, behind the dark
    colonnades of tree-trunks; figures passed vivid and vanishing; the smoke of fires stood
    upright above the masses of flowering bushes; bamboo fences glittered, running away in
    broken lines between the fields. A sudden cry on the shore sounded plaintive in the
    distance and ceased abruptly, as if stifled in the downpour of sunshine. A puff of
    breeze made a flash of darkness on the smooth water, touched our faces, and became
    forgotten. Nothing moved. The sun blazed down into a shadowless hollow of colors and

    I know a few different meanings of the term “pit” but I couldn’t get down to brass tacks. You know, the devil has work for idle hands.

    Thank you for your efforts.



    • Join Date: Aug 2008
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    Re: bottomless pit

    A 'pit' is like a hole in the ground.
    The expression 'bottomless' means never-ending. Something that has no 'bottom'.

    So, to say 'The bay was like a bottomless pit' is to say it had no ending, that it went on forever, that it couldn't be measured (not literally, just as a figure of speech). When you look down a dark hole sometimes you wonder where the 'bottom' is, where it finishes. Writers use this idea to convey a sense of mystery and depth to a scene.

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    Re: bottomless pit

    Though I believe Conrad here is just using it as a concept of something that is unfathomable/endless, the "bottomless pit" is Hades [Hell] - see here: The Book of Revelation: The Seven Trumpets: The Bottomless Pit

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