Who labored under the tolerably widespread delusion that total strangers and chance acquaintances are hungry for the least detail of one's ailments? I think that I didn't catch the meaning of the sentence, maybe its structure, please explain it as specific as possible. Thank you all the same.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This line that you are citing comes from "The Open Window," by Saki.  The narrator says this with reference to Framton Nuttel.  The narrator uses these lines to describe Nuttel when Nuttel starts to tell Mrs. Sappleton about his medical condition.  He tells her what the doctors have told him he should and should not do.

As for meaning, to labor under a delusion is to have the wrong idea about something.  So Nuttel believes something that is not correct.  This delusion is "tolerably widespread."  This means that quite a few people think that way.  So Nuttel's belief is one that many people have.

Once you understand that, the rest is relatively easy -- he believes that people who do not know him well (like Mrs. Sappleton) would be eager to hear ("hungry") all about ("the least detail") his medical condition.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial