which the care and her love made not a little remarkable

thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
It showed an eagerness for adventure, a readiness for the hand-to-mouth, which the care she took of her home and her love of good housewifery made not a little remarkable. She must be a woman of complicated character, and there was something dramatic in the contrast of that with her demure appearance.

Excerpt from The Moon and Sixpence
W Somerset Maugham

Hi. How do I understand the underlined clause, which I know can be reduced to “which the care and her love made not a little remarkable” but I still can’t make sense of?

Thank you for shedding some light.
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    It's a kind of double negative. You can interpret "not a little" as "considerably".

    Added in (cross-posted) edit: The broader meaning is that eagerness for adventure and readiness for hand-to-mouth are not qualities you would expect in someone who is houseproud, and that is why those qualities were remarkable, or noteworthy.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    which the care she took of her home and her love of good housewifery made not a little remarkable.
    She looked after her home and she was an excellent housewife.
    These attributes do not usually accompany a sense of adventure and being willing to live 'hand-to- mouth' which the relative 'which' refers to.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you both. So literally, the clause is equivalent to “Her being a housewife makes her eagerness for adventure and readiness for hand-to-mouth remarkable considerably”, right?
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Almost right!
    “Her being a skilled housewife and homemaker make her eagerness for adventure and readiness for living hand-to-mouth very/most remarkable. considerably "
    There's nothing wrong with 'considerably' I just think it's not quite the right word.
     
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