exaggerations are added to on the slight basis of that fact

Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
The coast population of Borneo believes implicitly in diamonds of fabulous value, in gold mines of enormous richness in the interior. And all those imaginings are heightened by the difficulty of penetrating far inland, especially on the north-east coast, where the Malays and the river tribes of Dyaks or Head-hunters are eternally quarrelling. It is true enough that some gold reaches the coast in the hands of those Dyaks when, during short periods of truce in the desultory warfare, they visit the coast settlements of Malays. And so the wildest exaggerations are built up and added to on the slight basis of that fact.
(Almayer's Folly – Joseph Conrad)

I do not quite understand the last sentence, though I understand the overall meaning of the excerpt. Exaggerations are built up, so they increase, but to what are they added? Could you please elucidate that for me?

Thank you in advance.
  • Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    The exaggerations are added to. They are snowballing - growing ever larger with successive revolutions - snow is added to snow; the same with the exaggerations.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Exaggerations are built up

    Exaggerations are added to
    [= people add to the exaggerations]

    Exaggerations are built up and added to ...

    on the slight basis of that fact. [= People base the exaggerations on the fact that gold is sometimes brought out from the area. However, it isn't very much gold, so it doesn't really support the belief that there are rich mines in the interior. That is, the fact is a slight [=small, inadequate] basis for the stories.]

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