stripped down to the nub, down to no man's land

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...the séance that ends in a brutal act; the grin of Crystalman, which is the grin of flesh stripped down to the nub, down to no man's land; the cold unpleasant personality of Maskull; the sense that everything is being twice-told, as in fairy tales...

source: John Clute's Introduction to A Voyage Arcturus

note: In the novel called A Voyage Arcturus, when characters die - except the protagonist- their face takes on Crystalman's grin, who is the false creator of the universe.

Can you explain what is meant by the underlined part?
Thanks in advance.
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    To strip down – to take apart so that all that remains is the essential part or parts; to take off everything that is not essential
    To the nub -> this has almost the same meaning but has the nuance of the item be raw or open or exposed or painful to the touch.
    No man’s land -> in this case, a strange and mysterious area. (There are other meanings have a look in our dictionary.)

    The writing is not very good here. To me, it sounds like the writer has tried too hard to create a frightening image, and has failed.

    Perhaps you should imagine the grin being like that on a skull that has had thin, raw flesh stretched over it.
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