I am trying to improve my English by reading fiction. From the “Poor Folk” for Dostoevsky I found this paragraph which I believe It will take me years to write a similar thing in terms of tenses (which is my major weakness in English). “The dealer would not let the set go for a kopek less than the sum he had named. But I pleaded and pleaded and at last after I had left and returned several times he relented and reduced the price by another two rubles.”
What is going here in terms of tenses? when should we use past particple and when should not? would not go happened “after” he had named the price and she pleaded “before” she had left . still the actions were in the past tense before and after the past participle. It is quite confusing. Can someone explain the usage of the past and past participle in this paragraph?
While the past perfect is used for the first of two connected past actions, we don't always use it in a consistent manner. We often skip it and often use it for emphasis.
Here, the pleading did start earlier that the leaving and returning, but if the past perfect were used, then it would imply that the pleading had stopped before the return trips were made, which is not the case. So, she did plead before she left, but she also pleaded later- that action runs across the trips. The past perfect serves to emphasise the number of trips required before the important action of reducing the price occurred.