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  1. vaibhavmaskar
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    #1

    writing style and grammar

    Franz Ferdinand would have gone from Sarajevo untouched had it not been for the actions of his staff, who by blunder after blunder contrived that his car should be slowed down and that he should be presented as a stationary target in front of Princip, the one conspirator of real and mature deliberation, who had finished his cup of coffee and was walking back through the streets, aghast at the failure of himself and his friends, which would expose the country to terrible punishment without having inflicted any loss on authority." (Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia. Viking, 1941)

    Could anyone explain why this paragraph is hard to understand or shade some light on writing style? It is kind of frustrating to me after such study of grammar. also want a simple explanation of this paragraph, and give me some suggestion for understanding these kind of writing style.

    Thanks.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: writing style and grammar

    This style of writing almost seems deliberatly chosen to lose the reader. By the time you're done, you barely remember what the subject is.

    It's hard to understand because it could easily be four or more sentences.

    Franz Ferdinand would have gone from Sarajevo untouched had it not been for the actions of his staff. His staff made number of mistakes so that Ferdinand was an easy target to Princip. [who by blunder after blunder contrived that his car should be slowed down and that he should be presented as a stationary target in front of Princip]. Princip was the one conspirator who was really a danger. [of real and mature deliberation]. He (that is, Princip) had finished his cup of coffee and was walking back through the streets and was aghast at the failure of himself and his friends. That failure would expose the country to terrible punishment without having inflicted any loss on authority.
    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.

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    #3

    Re: writing style and grammar

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    This style of writing almost seems deliberatly chosen to lose the reader. By the time you're done, you barely remember what the subject is.

    It's hard to understand because it could easily be four or more sentences.

    Franz Ferdinand would have gone from Sarajevo untouched had it not been for the actions of his staff. His staff made number of mistakes so that Ferdinand was an easy target to Princip. [who by blunder after blunder contrived that his car should be slowed down and that he should be presented as a stationary target in front of Princip]. Princip was the one conspirator who was really a danger. [of real and mature deliberation]. He (that is, Princip) had finished his cup of coffee and was walking back through the streets and was aghast at the failure of himself and his friends. That failure would expose the country to terrible punishment without having inflicted any loss on authority.
    Franz Ferdinand would have gone from Sarajevo untouched had it not been for the actions of his staff, who by blunder after blunder contrived that his car should be slowed down and that he should be presented as a stationary target in front of Princip, the one conspirator of real and mature deliberation, who had finished his cup of coffee and was walking back through the streets, aghast at the failure of himself and his friends, which would expose the country to terrible punishment without having inflicted any loss on authority." (Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia. Viking, 1941)

    It is a somewhat convoluted piece. The way I understand it is that portion I underlined refers back to back to the text in red. It may be that Princip was aghast but that wouldn't have the effect of exposing the country to punishment. The acts of Princip that day led directly to World War 1. The country was punished by the war and did not evolve into a free country as a result of the murder of Ferdinand and his wife.

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: writing style and grammar

    I'm sure you're right. I have never studied this portion of history and thought perhaps Princip was upset that he hadn't been able to disrupt the authority.


    The passage is made worse in terms of comprehension because "being a stationary target" didn't create lead to "the punishment" but rather his decison to act by taking aim at the stationary target did.
    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.

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    #5

    Re: writing style and grammar

    I think Princip was on his way home after he and his co-conspirators had failed to kill Ferdinand when the royal car took a wrong turn and stalled right in front of him when reversing to turn back onto the correct road, giving him the opportunity to fire right at Ferdinand. However, it is many years since I read my ALP Taylor on the origins of WWI.

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