pitted and pendulumed

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New Member
Okay, this is taken from John Brunner's "Stand on Zanzibar". There is a piece of text contrasting the conditions on Earth with those of Beninia, a fictious, small and poor African country. Sorry for a long-ish quote; I cut out unimportant digressions:

"The population of the planet Earth was numbered in many billions.
<< -- excessive quotation deleted -- >>
Beninia was pitted and pendulumed, and the walls were closing in."

I can more or less imagine what is meant by that, assuming that the phrase in question references the shape of Beninia. But:

1. I would be grateful for a more precise description from a point of view of an English native speaker
2. the real problem arises a few chapters later, when a character from the book feels pitted and pendulumed. I can't even give you much context, it is the very beginning of a chapter, Donald (the character) is slightly reeling after having learned that his roomie's (Norman) girlfriend (Victoria) is a spy... And the text goes as follows:

"Donald felt pitted and pendulumed in the vacant apartment. Almost, he could have welcomed the return of Victoria and the need to act as though nothing had happened until Norman programmed the law to pick her up".

So... How exactly does he feel? Ideas, anyone?

Thanks in advance
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  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    It's a take-off from Edgar Allan Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum:
    "The Pit and the Pendulum" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1842 in the literary annual The Gift: A Christmas and New Year's Present for 1843. The story is about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, though Poe skews historical facts. The narrator of the story describes his experience of being tortured. The story is especially effective at inspiring fear in the reader because of its heavy focus on the senses, such as sound, emphasizing its reality, unlike many of Poe's stories which are aided by the supernatural.

    That is from Wikipedia, and there's more on that link.
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