A.B.C. from top to toe

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover( para.29) by Lawrence (the University of Adelaide,here):
As for Hammond, he’s got a property instinct, so naturally the straight road and the narrow gate are right for him. You’ll see he’ll be an English Man of Letters before he’s done. A.B.C. from top to toe. Then there’s me.

I guess that letters here implies knowledge and learning, but what does A.B.C. refer to please?

Thank you in advance
 
Last edited:
  • roxcyn

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English [AmE]
    I believe Letters is referring to degrees that one can get at the university. ABC is referring to those degrees (BA, PhD, etc).
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I'm wondering whether this is a little joke or rather pun on "man of letters" - I think Dukes is making fun of the other man and saying that,far from becoming a distinguished writer, he'll just remain a very average mundane sort of fellow.

    The Aerated Bread Company (A.B.C.) and its teashops were well-known at the time, (the Wikipedia article describes the teashops as "the fast food outlets of their day") and I think "A.B.C" is being used here to denote something ubiquitous and run-of-the-mill. Note that it isn't ABC (alphabet) - the full stops show that it's an abbreviation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerated_Bread_Company
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I read it as a joke that he is man of letters - man made out of letters, A. B. C. representing the alphabet.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    My idea is just a hunch, but I think it's more likely than the alphabet theory. I don't think the ABC is usually written as A.B.C. The book I quote below mentions several works of fiction where the famous tea shops are referenced. It was an English (British?) thing.

    Tea: A very British Beverage
    by Paul Chrystal.https://books.google.gr/books?id=lXYFBQAAQBAJ&pg=PT104&lpg=PT104&dq=ABC+tea+shops+in+English+literature&source=bl&ots=O9wChnskXT&sig=Gl90FE3l66_YTCqyf5WOKSIPAQE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=3ZUqVZvxM7SR7AazzIGYDQ&ved=0CCIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=ABC tea shops in English literature&f=false

    "...the ABC teashop appears frequently in English literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - underlining just how much tea and tea shops were entwined in the fabric of the British way of life."
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I don't think the ABC is usually written as A.B.C.
    "...the ABC teashop appears frequently in English literature "
    The punctuation of your example works against your argument based on punctuation. (This author has also not written A.B.C.) Any particular writer might have an unusual style.
     
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