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    #1

    It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and power

    Hi,

    The following extract is from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I'd like to know what the "it" and "such views" refer to. Does the "it" refer to modern natural philosophy, or the circumstances in general? Does "such views" refer to the view that modern natural philosophy was not contemptible when scientists were seeking immortality?


    Besides, I had a contempt for the uses of modern natural philosophy. It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and power; such views, although futile, were grand: but now the scene was changed. The ambition of the enquirer seemed to limit itself to the annihilation of those visions on which my interest in science was chiefly founded. I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth.
    Last edited by raymondaliasapollyon; 24-Jun-2020 at 07:46. Reason: Put whole post in default font and layout

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and pow

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    Hi,

    The following extract is from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I'd like to know what the "it" and "such views" refer to. Does the "it" refer to modern natural philosophy, or the circumstances in general? Does "such views" refer to the view that modern natural philosophy was not contemptible when scientists were seeking immortality?


    Besides, I had a contempt for the uses of modern natural philosophy. It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and power; such views, although futile, were grand: but now the scene was changed. The ambition of the enquirer seemed to limit itself to the annihilation of those visions on which my interest in science was chiefly founded. I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth.
    As you suggest, I understand "It" to mean the circumstances in general. I think "such views" refers to the views of scientists seeking immortality. The narrator doesn't approve of Dr. Frankenstein's "modern natural philosophy."
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #3

    Re: It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and pow

    Would it better if "views" were replaced by "moves," and "it was very different, when" by "except when"?

  4. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and pow

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    Would it better if "views" were replaced by "moves," and "it was very different, when" by "except when"?

    "Such views" could be replaced by "views evidencing a seeking of immortality & power" and "It was very different when" by "Things were very different when."

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    #5

    Re: It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and pow

    Do you know what "the science" in "the masters of the science sought immortality and power" refers to?

  6. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #6

    Re: It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and pow

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    Would it better if "views" were replaced by "moves," and "it was very different, when" by "except when"?
    Not to me- it is the thinking and beliefs that are wrong before any actions are taken.

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    #7

    Re: It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and pow

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Not to me- it is the thinking and beliefs that are wrong before any actions are taken.
    The problem is "such views" does not have an explicit referent.

  8. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and pow

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    The problem is "such views" does not have an explicit referent.
    It refers to the views of modern natural philosophers, the scientists who seek immortality. The narrator finds their views distasteful or repugnant.
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 28-Jun-2020 at 16:52.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #9

    Re: It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and pow

    Does "the science" in the quoted passage refer to modern natural philosophy or alchemy?

  10. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #10

    Re: It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and pow

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    The problem is "such views" does not have an explicit referent.
    Without an explicit reference, then I would assume it meant the current state of science. If it referred to when science got it wrong, as it did with eugenics, then it should specify it.

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