like the precious attar of roses out of the otter

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This is quoted from Mark Twain's Roughing It:

information appears to stew out of me naturally, like the precious attar of roses out of the otter.

I'm not sure the "otter" here literally means the mammal. It seems to me there is some humor in it, but how to interpret it exactly?
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    He does seem to mean the animal. I suspect he's being self-deprecatory, and he means that what he says isn't very informative, any more than you're likely to get the "attar of roses" out of an animal that eats a lot of fish.

    But I'm not sure I'm right, so let's see what others say.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    As far as I can see, in the actual “prefatory” to the book, Twain spells the word attar (synonym: otto) as ottar, presumably intentionally in order to make a joke or pun of his remark. (Attar of roses has absolutely nothing to do with otters!) The “correction” to attar was made by a sub-editor on the New York Tribune.
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