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  1. #1
    emp0608 is offline Newbie
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    Default Please help me with this sentence.

    Hi everyone,

    Could anybody help me interpret the underlined part? This is a passage from An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser.
    Thank you.

    And then he was introduced to Zella Shuman and Rita Dickerman, who, for reasons of their own, not the least among which was a desire to appear a little wise and more sophisticated than the others here, came a little late. And it was true, as Clyde was to find out afterwards, that they were different, too―less simple and restricted than quite all of the girls whom Dillard had thus far introduced him to. They were not as sound religiously and morally as were these others. And as even Clyde noted on meeting them, they were as keen for as close an approach to pagan pleasure without admitting it to themselves, as it was possible to be and not be marked for what they were.

  2. #2
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    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Please help me with this sentence.

    They wanted to do things that would be considered "sinful" according to a conservative religious standard - probably drink and have sex. They got "close to doing these things" but didn't actually do them. Or perhaps they drank and kissed with mad abandon, but didn't have intercourse.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Please help me with this sentence.

    The girls enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh, but not beyond the limit where they would be tagged as "loose" or "impure."

  4. #4
    emp0608 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Please help me with this sentence.

    Thank you for your appropriate interpretation. But didn't you think the usage of "as" in "as keen for as close an approach" a little strange?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Please help me with this sentence.

    Quote Originally Posted by emp0608 View Post
    Thank you for your appropriate interpretation. But didn't you think the usage of "as" in "as keen for as close an approach" a little strange?
    It's certainly not everyday informal language, but it's fine - though it reads better without the final comma, in my opinion.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Please help me with this sentence.

    Quote Originally Posted by emp0608 View Post
    Thank you for your appropriate interpretation. But didn't you think the usage of "as" in "as keen for as close an approach" a little strange?
    "... they were as keen for as close an approach to pagan pleasure without admitting it to themselves, as it was possible to be ..."
    I find one of them a little strange, but I'm not sure which one. (Nor do you say which is bothering you).
    Does it mean "as keen ... as it was possible to be" or "... as close ... as it was possible to be"?
    Is the limitation on them being marked for what they were the keenness they displayed, or the closeness of the approach?
    I think one of the first two "as" should go.
    "They were as keen for a close approach as it was possible to be."; "They were keen for as close an approach as it was possible to be".
    The first makes more sense grammatically, to me.

  7. #7
    emp0608 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Please help me with this sentence.

    Thanks! You are right. One of the first two "as" should go. But I would rather leave the second one. That would sound more sensual.

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