A lively metaphor for keeping something at arm’s length, in this case the aristocratic society to which the baroness belongs.  It evokes a curious mix of engaging with something essentially unpleasant, if not revolting, without overcommitting.

Baroness René’s attitude toward aristocratic society is that of a dog toward a rodent: he takes it in his mouth and rolls it around but will not swallow it.

Source: Lajos Zilahy, The Dukays, trans. John Pauker (London: Prion, 2001), p. 466

Photo credit: Vizslafotozas at Pixabay

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