There's a great deal to somebody

EvaH

Senior Member
Czech
Hello,

In the book "Parrot and Olivier in America" (Peter Carey) there's a conversation between Olivier and his servant Parrot (John Larrit). Parrot has just been too personal, perhaps even cheeky towards Olivier, and Olivier wants to strike back. That's why Olivier reminds Parrot that he was married and had a child and left them some time ago - which is a very delicate topic for Parrot. Then the text goes as follows:

In fact I did not wish to punish him but rather to ask, Who are you? With my own kind I would never have made so artless an entrée, but to him I said: "There is a great deal to you, John Larrit."
He considered me. "It is a wonder how many lives a man can hold within his skin," he said at last.

I don't understand the sentence "There is a great deal to you, John Larrit."

Could you, please, explain to me, what it means?

Thank you very much.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    It means that John Larrit is a talented or complicated person. To say that there is "a great deal to" John Larrit is to say that Larrit is no small, simple thing.
     

    collents

    New Member
    English - UK
    I think he means "great deal" in the sense that we can make a great deal of money (i.e. it means "There is a lot to you, John Larrit", meaning he has a history which many people may not know about.)
     

    EvaH

    Senior Member
    Czech
    Could my translation into Czech sound something like that: "you have gone through many things in life, John Larrit, which means you are a complicated, wise, experienced person"?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I suppose you could, Eva. I'd probably stick with "complicated". Using too many adjectives might be reading too much into the phrase. We often use a similar phrase "There's more to you than meets the eye". It also translates well into "deep" or "complicated".
     

    collents

    New Member
    English - UK
    Could my translation into Czech sound something like that: "you have gone through many things in life, John Larrit, which means you are a complicated, wise, experienced person"?
    I don't think he was paying him a compliment. He was trying to remind him of his place so, no, I wouldn't put that last part.

    He would have delivered the line slowly and surely, with the emphasis on the word "deal" and, I imagine, with a piercing stare.
     

    collents

    New Member
    English - UK
    The clue is in "In fact I did not wish to punish him but rather to ask, Who are you?"

    He means "and just who do you think YOU are, to be so familiar with ME, your master"

    That's how I read it!
     

    EvaH

    Senior Member
    Czech
    I think what owlman says suits the following context better and it also corresponds with the introductory notes (artless entrée, I didn't wish to punish him). Olivier wanted somehow to blunt the fact that he "touched Parrot's nerve first". In Czech, there's a similar phrase which expresses that he was a complicated, deep person. I used the adjectives just to express the meanings behind this phrase. Anyway, thank you very much for your comments which are great help.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I do agree with Collents that the context suggests the speaker is using the expression ironically. However, that wouldn't change its literal meaning. The irony would be communicated with tone of voice or facial expression when the speaker said it.
     
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