who can just hit the taste of the new generation of Board school children

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "who can just hit the taste of the new generation of Board school children" means in the following sentences:

"But I tell you what; when I get back, I’ll inquire into the state of the market. I know a man who was once engaged at Jolly & Monk’s—the chief publishers of that kind of thing, you know; I must look him up—what a mistake it is to neglect any acquaintance!—and get some information out of him. But it’s obvious what an immense field there is for anyone who can just hit the taste of the new generation of Board school children. Mustn’t be too goody-goody; that kind of thing is falling out of date."

- George Gissing, New Grub Street, Chapter 3

Jasper Milvain, the protagonist of this novel which was published in 1891 in the United Kingdom, who is eager to be successful as a literary critic, is persuading his sister to write a story book for Board School children. And he says that when he gets back to London (he was living in London yet currently visited his hometown for a holiday), he would get some information from his acquaintance who once worked for the chief publishers in the market for the story books for children. And he also adds that there is an immense field for anyone "who can just hit the taste of the new generation of Board school children."

In this part, I would like to know what "just" means in particular.
Does it mean "only"? Or "precisely"?

I would very much appreciate your help. :)
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Does it mean "only"? Or "precisely"?
    Well, you could replace "just" with "only", but in the sense that this is all that they have to do, not that they are barely able to reach it to hit.

    The meaning is that there is lots of money (I take it he is referring to money, but it could be fame or influence) to be made for someone who can write in a way that appeals to the new generation of schoolchildren. Board schools were for ordinary children, not those of the wealthy. An Act of Parliament of 1880 made education compulsory in England between the ages of 5 and 10, considerably increasing literacy rates (and the number of schoolchildren), and therefore providing a new market for sellers of books, newspapers and magazines.

    I think "the new generation of schoolchildren" refers to the children while they are still at school, not the newly-literate public who had attended school.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear Uncle Jack,

    Thank you very much for the detailed explanation.
    Then "just" here means that one simply has to hit the taste of Board School children to acquire a huge amount of money.
    And thank you for the precious piece of history about English education!
    One pleasure to read a book hundred years old is to find out how people lived in that era. :)

    I truly appreciate your help.
     
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