[General] lay the ghost = break with one's past

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vil

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Dear teachers,

Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence from the Conrad’s “Lord Jim”?

There was always a doubt of his courage. The truth seems to be that it is impossible to lay the ghost of a fact.

lay a ghost = break with one’s past

Thank you for your efforts.

Regards,

V.
 

Tdol

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The definition is OK, but the sentence is a bit awkward as it's too general- why is a fact a ghost?
 
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vil

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Lord Jim / chapter 19

I have told you these two episodes at length to show his manner of dealing with himself under the new conditions of his life. There were many others of the sort, more than I could count on the fingers of my two hands.

They were all equally tinged by a high-minded absurdity of intention which made their futility profound and touching. To fling away your daily bread so as to get your hands free for a grapple with a ghost may be an act of prosaic heroism. Men had done it before (though we who have lived know full well that it is not the haunted soul but the hungry body that makes an outcast), and men who had eaten and meant to eat every day had applauded the creditable folly. He was indeed unfortunate, for all his recklessness could not carry him out from under the shadow. There was always a doubt of his courage. The truth seems to be that it is impossible to lay the ghost of a fact. You can face it or shirk it--and I have come across a man or two who could wink at their familiar shades. Obviously Jim was not of the winking sort; but what I could never make up my mind about was whether his line of conduct amounted to shirking his ghost or to facing him out.

Regards,

V.
 
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