3

I've noticed in the book 秘密 by 谷崎{たにざき}潤一郎{じゅんいちろう} that the particle は sometimes seems to be used to indicate that with "AはB", "B" comes after "A", for example:

…さながら土用干【どようぼし】の如く【ごとく】部屋中へ置き散らして、寝ころびながら、手あたり次第に繰りひろげて[は]{L}耽読【たんどく】した。

Is this the case, and/or is there some kind of relationship indicated between "B" and "A" here? Is this strictly a literary usage, or is it also used in conversation etc?

I've looked in Weblio and various other dictionaries, but can't seem to find a similar usage.

4

It is 「ては」, not 「は」, that one needs to be looking at here. You seem to have its usage figured out, though.

"Action A + ては + Action B"

Action A must be in the [連用形]{れんようけい}, but Action B could be in almost any form.

This format expresses the repeated sequence of two different actions. You do A, B, A, B, A, B・・・

手あたり次第に繰りひろげては耽読した

= "(I) kept devouring (the books) as (I) spread them open (on the tatami) "

This is in no way a strictly literary usage. It is used in daily conversation as well.

See definition #3 here (Not the "circled" 3 towards the bottom):

https://kotobank.jp/word/%E3%81%A6%E3%81%AF-576591#E5.A4.A7.E8.BE.9E.E6.9E.97.20.E7.AC.AC.E4.B8.89.E7.89.88

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