Tragic Audience


New Member
I am reading Goodbye, Mr. Chips. I came across this sentence :
A decent career, decently closed; three cheers for old Chips, they all shouted, at that uproarious end-of-term dinner. Three cheers, indeed; but there was more to come, an unguessed epilogue, an encore played to a tragic audience.
What is the meaning of tragic audience in this sentence?
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Welcome to the forum

    "Tragic audience" is not a term with its own meaning in English. I am sure the word "audience" gives you not difficulty. To understand what the tragedy is, you will have to continue reading the book (if I remember correctly).

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I think it's what's called a transferred epithet (you can look it up on Wikipedia but don't expect to understand their explanation). That means that the epithet (= the adjective tragic) is used to describe the audience, but it's really the encore that's tragic.

    Compare for example "While he's waiting, Richard pops a nervous handful of salted nuts into his mouth." It's really Richard that's nervous, not the nuts.