great quote, but why 'sawdust'? you see this sawdust business in T.S.Eliot and Hemingway too, just to name two authors from about the same era. i've been trying to figure it out but to no avail. it seems to my untrained-in-domestic-affairs eye that sprinkling sawdust on the floor would just make the place messier, not better; but it seems it had its sanitary purposes back in those pre-Hoover days. any idea why (and how)?
Anon: I don't know??? I have a vague idea that sawdust was strewn on pub floors and assumed this was what she referenced, ie somewhere louche and low-down.
ahem . . . Sawdust is used on some floors to absorb any liquids that fall rather than trying to prevent them being spilt. The sawdust is swept up and replaced each day. This was common in the past in pubs and is still used in some butchers and fishmongers.
thank you Beauty. such practical info, unfortunately, isn't taught in literature classes, even at the university level...:(
Yes, Beauty would know. Who else but she trails a night gown on the floors of a wet market?
Beauty, Anon: Thank you both. Good to learn something new every day...