I had heard it—where, or whence, for ever impossible to know

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Irelia20150604

Senior Member
Chinese
The quotation comes from Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (Chap. 35) | Genius

Quotation: I might have said, “Where is it?” for it did not seem in the room—nor in the house—nor in the garden; it did not come out of the air—nor from under the earth—nor from overhead. I had heard it—where, or whence, for ever impossible to know! And it was the voice of a human being—a known, loved, well-remembered voice—that of Edward Fairfax Rochester; and it spoke in pain and woe, wildly, eerily, urgently.

Context: Jane had heard mysterious summons.
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Hi everyone! I have a question about the bold sentence. Does it mean “I had heard it, but it was forever impossible to know where it was or where it came from”?
 
  • I think you have the right idea. However, "whence" means "from where", so it seems a little odd to have both "where it was" and "where it came from".
    So the "where" might mean "where I had heard it".
    Edit: No, I think you are right. In the sentence before there is a short list of physical places and then, following the semicolon, a short list of "directions" from which the sound might have come. Therefore, I think the "where" and the "whence" relate to these two lists.
     
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