heaving

wordgumshoe

Senior Member
Persian- Iran
Hi,
What does "heaving" mean here?
Source: Flush: A biography by Virginia Woolf.

He had
fallen asleep between the bare legs of an ordinary drawing-room table. Now he
was hemmed in by the billowing of skirts and the heaving of trousers. The table
itself, moreover, was swaying violently from side to side.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    It takes another two paragraphs before Flush's experience is resumed: "Flush started up in the wildest apprehension. The skirts and the trousers were billowing round him; the table was standing on one leg."

    Virginia Woolf has been generous with her verbs :). Flush is asleep under a table that is being used for a séance.
    At such seances, the table would apparently move and this would be interpreted by the guests as "the spirits' power. In its turn, the moving table would cause panic in the women (billowing dresses) but, I suspect, the men (or at least one man among the guests, would be using his knees to lift the table upwards - heaving trousers.

    Thus, "Now he was hemmed in by the billowing of skirts and the heaving of trousers. The table itself, moreover, was swaying violently from side to side." represents Flush's experience of the women being agitated and the men heaving the table upwards with their knees.

    Flush sees nothing "magical" - he only sees what is really happening.
     
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