the infallible clew

< Previous | Next >

enkidu68

Senior Member
turkish
Hi folks, this is cited from Wellingborough Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)

I think “the infallible clew” must be that guide book. But I cannot separate whole sentence, it is not easy to spot what is subject here.
Does his boyish delight come from holding that guide book of Liverpool?

Great was my boyish delight at the prospect of visiting a place, the infallible clew to all whose intricacies I held in my hand.
 
  • Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    "Clew" seems to be an older spelling of "clue".
    Does his boyish delight come from holding that guide book of Liverpool?
    If that's what he was referring to and holding in his hand, yes.
    Great was my boyish delight at the prospect of visiting a place, the infallible clew to all whose intricacies I held in my hand.
    To reword: My boyish delight was great at the prospect of visiting that place, to whose intricacies I held an/the infallible clue in my hand.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    A "clew" is a corner of a sail, and is a term both that Melville and Redburn would have been very familiar with. However, I cannot see any association between this type of clew and what is being described, and I agree with Barque that here he means "clue", but uses the more familiar spelling, more familiar to him at least.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think his delight comes from visiting a place that he knows/will know all about because he has his invaluable guidebook with him. He won't have to wander about trying to understand the place while missing interesting things. His guidebook will direct him to everything worthwhile, making his experience much richer than it otherwise would be.

    My modern version:
    I was very much looking forward, with boyish delight, to visiting a place where everything I might possibly need to know was contained in the guidebook I held in my hand.
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top