“It would be ungenerous to affect not to know that your self-denial is to be referred to your consideration for her father"

Chapter 10, A Tale of Two Cities.

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    Welcome to EL&U. Please edit your question to include an explanation of why it comes up and to include your prior research on the matter. In this case, what is it that you find confusing and why, and what words did you look up or what other references did you consult before asking? – MetaEd Jan 19 '13 at 15:43
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    Note that the next thing Doctor Manette (the speaker) says is "Her father thanks you". Bearing in mind that he is in fact the father it's probably fair to say that the overall meaning of these words is that he's uncomfortable with the whole situation, and the need for him to explicitly state how he feels about it. So he's being deliberately circumlocutory in order to "distance" himself from his words. – FumbleFingers Jan 19 '13 at 16:46

Just translate parts of the sentence to simpler words, or more-obvious words, or in some cases place-holders, as follows.
• It would be ungenerous → It would be mean
• to affect not to know → to pretend to not know → to pretend [not]
• that your self-denial → that your X
• is to be referred to → is to be attributed to → is because of
• your consideration for her father → your regard for Y

This gives “It would be mean to pretend that your X is [not] because of your regard for Y”. Roughly paraphrased, it says “I know you did X because of Y”.

Edit: I accidentally left out a not. I show it in brackets to indicate that it is moved to a later position in the simplified sentence.

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    Surely to affect not to know paraphrases as deny, not pretend/claim. – FumbleFingers Jan 19 '13 at 16:30
  • @FumbleFingers, my error; see edit – James Waldby - jwpat7 Jan 19 '13 at 16:59
  • This is the first time I am seeing "affect" being used this way which probably created confusion for me. Thanks a lot for pointing for that out. – pareshnakhe Jan 19 '13 at 17:03
  • Also, read up on overnegation and misnegation. – John Lawler Jan 19 '13 at 17:15
  • It is a separate, and less common, meaning of affect. See "affect v.2" here. – Colin Fine Jan 19 '13 at 20:10

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