merely a man washing himself, commonplace enough, <Heaven knows>

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(page 94, Chapter Six) by DH Lawrence (planetebook,here):
(background: Now Connie went to Mellors' cottage to send him a message, and happend to see his bathing in his back yard ……)

And his white slim back was curved over a big bowl of soapy water, in which he ducked his head, shaking his head with a queer, quick little motion, lifting his slender white arms, and pressing the soapy water from his ears, quick, subtle as a weasel playing with water, and utterly alone. Connie backed away round the corner of the house, and hurried away to the wood. In spite of herself, she had had a shock. After all, merely a man washing himself, commonplace enough, Heaven(why capitalized?) knows!

How should I understand the blue sentence please?
I feel after all the considerration(=after all), she though noting abnormal, (and) nobody knows(=heaven knows) her seeing him bathing.

Is that right?
Thank you in advance
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    She is just questioning why she should have been shocked by the commonplace sight of a man washing himself.

    Heaven is often capitalised, nothing odd about that.

    She's thinking: Heaven knows why I feel this way! = I have no idea why …
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Lingobingo is absolutely right about the literal and idiomatic meanings.

    Except that Connie's refusing to acknowledge why she would feel 'shocked'. She's telling herself that she can't be 'shocked' because there's nothing 'shocking' about a semi-naked man washing himself; she tries to counteract her 'shock' reaction by telling herself that his activity is perfectly natural and normal. Of course it is, but witnessing it might not be especially for the middle and upper classes in the 1920s.

    This probably does not affect your understanding for translation purposes. I suppose there is a Chinese word for 'shock', but I have no idea what the connotations of the Chinese word might be. In English, we can be 'shocked' by all sorts of personal experiences and by other people's behaviours. All the same, 'shocking' is especially used in sexual contexts.

    It's very likely that one component of Connie's 'shock' was the erotic effect of the sight, unusual in her personal experience, which she was, at that time in her emotional and sexual life, as well as in that era, quite incapable of acknowledging.
    That's what I read into this. It's probably just 'background' comments for your general understanding.
     
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