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    #1

    a sweet disorder

    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence?

    She arrived late, in a sweet disorder, and helped herself to an immense plate of porridge, saying: “Just got here before Fanny Adams, God be praised.” (Dickens’ “One Pair of Feet” chapter VI)

    a sweet disorder = an artistic muss

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V.

  1. Tullia's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: a sweet disorder

    Quote Originally Posted by vil View Post
    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence?

    She arrived late, in a sweet disorder, and helped herself to an immense plate of porridge, saying: “Just got here before Fanny Adams, God be praised.” (Dickens’ “One Pair of Feet” chapter VI)

    a sweet disorder = an artistic muss

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V.

    Hi there,

    I wouldn't necessarily say it was "artistic" because to me that implies that the effect was contrived or deliberate in some way. "An attractive muss" might be better.

    If you are interested in where the expression comes from, I believe it is probably from a Robert Herrick poem called "Delight in Disorder" (You can read it here). Herrick generally is well worth a read, actually. It's a poem I've always loved, and given that the quote in your post is from Dickens, I would be very surprised if it wasn't meant as an allusion to it.

    That's actually partly why I don't like your interpretation of it as "artistic muss"; the whole point of the poem is that the "sweet disorder" is not artistic or contrived, as the poet points out in the final couplet.

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    #3

    Re: a sweet disorder

    Hi Tullia,

    Really, I am very grateful to you for your superb explanations of my tangled phrase. I would have you believe that your sawing seeds thrown out of the window. Your words hit the mark.

    Thank you again for your active co-operation which stock stands high as I take it.

    For all the good intentions to be soft as butter I could not refrain from expressing my opinion concerning my primary interpretation of the phrase in question “ a sweet disorder”.

    I will make a start of my brief presentation with a few synonyms of “artistic” namely: aesthetic, beautiful, creative, cultivated, harmonious, imaginative, exquisite, elegant, graceful, refined, stylish,

    As far as can see many of them fit perfectly with “clothing”, “dress” or “apparel”.

    A sweet disorder in the dress
    Kindles in clothes a wantonness.

    I know that the key phrase originated from the rhymester Herrich, 1591-1674. My heart fills with joy ascertaining the chance in a thousand to meet another living admirer of the books of the good old days. Thank you again for the experienced intellectual feast reading the stirring poem.

    Now I have to hit the right nail on the head. The presence of the word “art” is perfectly comprehensible. It inspired me to use the word “artistic” in my interpretation in my original post.

    Do more bewitch me than when art
    Is too precise in every part.


    I agree with your arguments. Will you accept my speculations?

    Regards,

    V.

  2. Tullia's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: a sweet disorder

    However, the adjectives in the poem describing the clothing which constitutes the sweet disorder are things like erring, neglectful and careless; things which imply they are not conscious decisions.

    If you look at your synonyms (which in my own "humble" opinion are not all perfect synonyms, but only synonyms on certain occasions) you will see that many of them (creative, cultivated, imaginative, refined) have a shade of meaning which implies a conscious choice or awareness directing them.

    Beautiful is not always a direct synonym for artistic, although the two can sometimes be used to mean the same thing. We rarely describe natural effects as artistic, I think, even though we would very naturally call them beautiful. As an example why not consider "sunrise" or "sunset"?

    The word artistic carries with it the inherent idea of an artist behind it, it's almost inescapable. That is why phrases such as "effortlessly artistic" are interesting, because of the almost oxymoronic nature of them, the internal contrast making them an interesting concept to examine.

    However when it comes to the specific phrase under discussion, Herrick, it seems to me, is deliberately contrasting the unconscious sweet disorder with the contrived art too precise and therefore I would reject "artistic" as the best way to describe sweet disorder, as I believe the opportunity for confusion is far too great. I stand by my original opinion that "attractive" would be a better choice of adjective to explain the meaning of the phrase. "Charming" would be another good word.

    Many of the "synonyms" for artistic you offer could well "go with" clothing - but they don't, to my mind, suit the type of clothing/style of dress Herrick is describing with the phrase sweet disorder.
    Last edited by Tullia; 31-Aug-2010 at 14:46.

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    #5

    Re: a sweet disorder

    Hi Tullia,

    I yield to your irrefutable arguments.

    Thank you for your astonishing persistence.

    Regards,

    V.

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