demanding payment of his shoulders

SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
Behind him stood the landlord, wringing greasy hands over the wreckage and demanding payment of his bony, oblivious shoulders.
(Viriconium; M. John Harrison)

Would you be so kind as to tell me whether this is 'demand something of somebody'?

Thanks.
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hello Suprun,

    We can say I demanded payment of him, or I demanded payment of thirty pounds.

    In other words, in I demanded payment of X, X can be either the person who must pay, or the sum to be paid.

    Here, in my view, the shoulders represent the person paying. The landlord is suggesting that the man be beaten, across the shoulders.

    I don't put this forward with great confidence; it's quite a strange expression.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I'm halfway there with TT. I believe "his bony, oblivious shoulders" represent the man himself – certainly that part of the man that the landlord can see when he's standing behind the man.

    I don't think there's a suggestion of beating. The landlord is just looking for payment from anyone who might compensate him for the damage that's been done to his establishment, and this man seems the weakest of the lot. (I read a bit of the story – he's just some lecherous old goat trying to have his way with a serving girl.)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You may well be right, as your name suggests, Copyright.

    I got lost in the medievalisms. I can only read a few words of that sort of thing.

    If the man's back is turned to the landlord, who is asking for payment in money, then I'm with you entirely.
     
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