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22588Re: [mythsoc] Re: Gollum at a Wedding

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  • David Bratman
    Aug 11, 2011
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      <davise@...> wrote:

      > For instance, in "A Study in Scarlet", John Ferrier says to his daughter
      > Lucy, "I would rather see you in your grave, my girl, than the wife of
      > either of those," "And so should I, father" she answered with spirit. It
      > seems to me that what they both clearly mean is that they would prefer she
      > were dead than married to either of her suitors -- not unreasonably, since
      > in the event her forced marriage to Drebber ends up killing her ---, and
      > that it is perverse to weaken the interpretation to "I very much hope you
      > don't end up married to either of those.'

      Yes, but only because "I very much hope" is weak and inaccurate phrasing.
      "I absolutely forbid it (insofar as I have power to do so, and I dashed well
      should)" would be more accurate. It still doesn't mean he actually wants
      her dead, and even if he does, he's a heavy-handed father in a lurid 19th
      century melodrama, not a 21st century member of a literary discussion list.
      They shouldn't be read as rhetorically identical (nor Frodo and Gandalf,

      > Since you explicitly invited discussion, I don't know why you're
      > exasperated when you get it.

      So we can add to the misunderstandings here the fact that you unfortunately
      did not recognize the (fairly standard, where I come from) rhetorical trope
      of the hypothetical essay question, to which "Discuss" is the traditional
      closing flourish. One is not supposed literally to answer the question;
      instead, one should contemplate it for a moment and realize how stupid the
      premise is. But apparently you don't think it's stupid.

      In any case, my exasperation is not that you attempted the question, but at
      the answer you gave. If this were a class, your grade might be less than an

      > And, to return to the original discussion, of course neither I nor John
      > actually supposed that Carl was pleased that Tolkien is dead; nor did I
      > seriously suppose that John or anyone believed that Tolkien would actually
      > still be writing much if he were still alive. John was cleverly using
      > Carl's phrase to express an elegiac thought; and I was doing something
      > similar for John's phrase.

      Well, they came across as incredibly cutting put-downs, and I'm not even the
      person they were addressed to. If you don't believe in taking comments at
      face value, why did you take my essay trope that way?
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