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  1. suprunp's Avatar
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    #1

    and each believes it possessed by others

    We are long before we are convinced that happiness is never to be found, and each believes it possessed by others, to keep alive the hope of obtaining it for himself.
    (S. Johnson: Rasselas)

    Judging by the punctuation of this sentence can we, at least theoretically, view it in two ways?

    1. (where the part "and each believes it possessed by others" goes to the first part of the sentence)
    We keep alive the hope of obtaining happiness for ourselves because we are long before that moment when we are convinced that happiness is never to be found and when each believes it possessed by others.

    Comment: this variant may be disputable, although I can see a situation when one is convinced that happiness cannot be found by and for oneself, although one can still believe that others are happy, quite possibly because they haven't understood yet what one was revealed.

    2. (where the part "and each believes it possessed by others" goes to the last part of the sentence)
    We are long before the moment when we are convinced that happiness is never to be found and it is why we believe it possessed by others and, therefore, we keep alive the hope of obtaining it for ourselves.
    Comment: I agree that this variant sounds better and is clearer than the previous one.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by suprunp; 02-Oct-2011 at 17:43.

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    #2

    Re: and each believes it possessed by others

    I am not sure I get the first one. My interpretation is that it takes us a long time to reach the conclusion that happiness is not to be found, and before that we believe others have found it to keep the hope alive that we may find it ourselves.

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