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:


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.


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・・・


= "(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):


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