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  1. #1
    suprunp's Avatar
    suprunp is offline Senior Member
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    Default an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy

    At sight of this Sue's nerves utterly gave way, an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the tragedy, throwing her into a convulsive agony which knew no abatement.
    (T. Hardy: Jude the Obscure)

    What grammatical role does [an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the tragedy] play in this sentence?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy

    Quote Originally Posted by suprunp View Post
    At sight of this Sue's nerves utterly gave way, an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the tragedy, throwing her into a convulsive agony which knew no abatement.
    (T. Hardy: Jude the Obscure)

    What grammatical role does [an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the tragedy] play in this sentence?

    Thanks.
    Assume that the comma after 'gave way' is a mistake, and we have, "At the sight of this, Sue's nerves utterly gave way, an awful conviction.... throwing her into a convulsive agony....

  3. #3
    suprunp's Avatar
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    Default Re: an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy

    Is there any possibility that the comma is not a mistake?

    Thanks.

  4. #4
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy

    Quote Originally Posted by suprunp View Post
    Is there any possibility that the comma is not a mistake?

    Thanks.
    If the comma is not a mistake, then it is almost impossible to make sense of the original, in my opinion.

  5. #5
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy

    Quote Originally Posted by suprunp View Post
    At sight of this Sue's nerves utterly gave way, an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the tragedy, throwing her into a convulsive agony which knew no abatement.
    (T. Hardy: Jude the Obscure)

    What grammatical role does [an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the tragedy] play in this sentence?

    Thanks.

    I really, really, really like your question. I hope that other teachers will

    give us their analysis. I so much want to know the answer.

  6. #6
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy

    [QUOTE=suprunp;804086]

    What grammatical role does [an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the tragedy] play in this sentence?


    NOTE: NOT A TEACHER


    (1) This is the weekend. Maybe some of the teachers are busy but will answer you

    come Monday.

    (2) Your question so interests me that I ask permission to timidly advance a few

    thoughts. If I am shown to be wrong, I shall immediately delete my post, which I am

    often forced to do.

    (3) A few random comments:

    (a) I am not well-read. I have heard of Mr. Hardy, but I have never had any interest in

    his novels or any novels. So I, of course, went to Professor Google and discovered

    the pronoun "this" in your sentence refers to a suicide note left by one of the children.

    (I had no idea that Jude the Obscure had such morbid scenes.)

    (b) I then read some of the comments on the Web about your question, and one

    term jumped out as the only logical explanation: absolute clause.

    (c) Of course, people (such as I) who are not well educated can imagine anything.

    So maybe (probably) I am imagining that this information from the great Otto

    Jesperson may help us. In discussing such clauses, he writes:

    [This kind of sentence] contains descriptive details and indications of

    ATTENDANT CIRCUMSTANCES [my emphasis], generally added after the main part

    of the sentence, and sometimes VERY LOOSELY CONNECTED WITH IT.

    (i) One of his examples: She said her prayers at home, her heart full of love and tenderness.

    (d) Am I totally crazy to think that it seems rather similar to:

    At sight of the suicide note Sue's nerves utterly gave way, an awful conviction

    that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the tragedy.

    (In our analysis, we can forget the added clause "throwing her into ....")

    (4) Final thoughts:

    (a) Mr. Hardy's sentence is formal and very beautiful.

    (b) The sentence is basically: At sight of the suicide note Sue's nerves gave way,

    an event that threw her into a convulsive agony which knew no abatement.

    (i) At the same time ("attendant circumstances"), there was an "awful conviction

    that ...." It would be diagrammed as an absolute clause, having no formal

    grammatical connection to the sentence but a very strong rhetorical/ logical

    connection.
    Last edited by TheParser; 25-Sep-2011 at 20:37.

  7. #7
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    If the comma is not a mistake, then it is almost impossible to make sense of the original, in my opinion.
    I agree, I don't have a copy of Jude The Obscure at present, but I wonder if Hardy wrote it with one.

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy

    Google books has it with the comma. The comma looks odd to me, but even without it, it's a bit strange. Mr Hardy was possibly more focused on the tale than the commas at the time of writing.

  9. #9
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy

    Quote Originally Posted by suprunp View Post

    What grammatical role does [an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the tragedy] play in this sentence?

    Thanks.

    NOTICE: NOT A TEACHER


    *** BULLETIN ***

    (1) I have just received a communication from someone who has a track record of

    supplying accurate information about grammar.

    (a) He agrees with the wonderful teachers here that it may simply be a matter of

    comma usage then and of comma usage now.

    (b) BUT, he also suggests that the whole phrase might be "adverbial to the main

    clause." He suggests this possibility:

    "At sight of this [a boy's suicide note] Sue's nerves utterly gave way, [the result of]

    an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the

    tragedy, throwing her into a convulsive agony which knew no abatement."

  10. #10
    suprunp's Avatar
    suprunp is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post

    (b) BUT, he also suggests that the whole phrase might be "adverbial to the main

    clause." He suggests this possibility:

    "At sight of this [a boy's suicide note] Sue's nerves utterly gave way, [the result of]

    an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the

    tragedy, throwing her into a convulsive agony which knew no abatement."
    My understanding is that by 'the whole phrase' you mean [an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the tragedy]. If it might be viewed as an adverbial then is it possible to move it to the end of the sentence?
    (It seems pretty possible to dispense with this phrase, as we can do with adverbials in some cases.)

    At sight of this Sue's nerves utterly gave way, throwing her into a convulsive agony which knew no abatement, an awful conviction that her discourse with the boy had been the main cause of the tragedy.

    Thanks.

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