staving off

Category: Writing & Reading | Type: Glossary Word | Title: Great Expectations (in Context) | Author: Charles Dickens | Ch: Chapter XLI

Edgar Rosenberg, editor of the Norton Critical Edition reads "raving off." Rosenberg writes that "'raving off' is unmistakably the MS reading and makes sense: the expression suggests Pip's pent-up tension and dread of Magwitch's and his own future." But the OED gives, "Originally: †to be mad, to show signs of madness or delirium (obs.). Later: to speak or declaim wildly, irrationally, or incoherently. Also occas.: to talk loudly or boisterously; to shout, bawl (now chiefly Eng. regional). Also with on." There is no "Also with off." A search of the other Dickens novels in the Bookdoors library reveals no "raving off," though six uses of raving, as in mad. "Staving off" seems preferable, for Pip remains entirely controlled, apart from his pacing, puzzling over "What was to be done?" 

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