I'm having trouble parsing this sentence: (I hope I used "parsing" correctly.)

Now, the history of Eliza Doolittle, though called a romance because of the transfiguration it records seems exceedingly improbable, is common enough.

from the epilogue to Shaw's Pygmalion. Full text.

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, jimm101, Nathaniel, tchrist, Sven Yargs Feb 13 '16 at 22:03

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  • What do you think the typo is? Is romance as a noun for a genre or novel tripping you up? If so, maybe just scanning a few of its glosses will clear up your confusion. – Dan Bron Feb 11 '16 at 14:50
  • Keep in mind that Shaw had some singular notions about spelling and punctuation. Often with Shaw, things that look like typographical errors are authorial idiosyncrasies. – Rob_Ster Feb 11 '16 at 14:53
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    I think the issue here is with "though called a romance because of the transfiguration it records seems exceedingly improbable". To my eye, it should either be "because of the transfiguration it records seeming exceedingly improbable" or "because the transfiguration it records seems exceedingly improbable". It needs to either remove the "of" or change "seems" to "seeming" to be grammatically correct. – John Clifford Feb 11 '16 at 14:54
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    The "of" after "because" needs to be removed. I'm also confused by your use of "though"; the statement seems to be implying that the "common" history of Eliza Doolittle would make it less likely to be considered a romance. I don't see how those two things are mutually exclusive. My gut feeling is that this sentence needs to be completely rewritten to get your point across, but I'm not sure what your point is yet. – Tim Ward Feb 11 '16 at 15:17
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about an OCR error in more recent ebook versions of Shaw's text. If you check Google Books you'll find all earlier versions have because the transfiguration (no of, so OP would completely misinterpret things if he kept that and tried to "fix" things with an additional comma later). – FumbleFingers Feb 11 '16 at 15:45

It sounds like there is an of too much. I should think it a typo.

  • Yeah, there are two or three ways to reword it, but that clause is not right, by the standards of modern US English, at least. – Hot Licks Feb 11 '16 at 20:08

A Google Books search confirms FumbleFingers's observation (in a comment above) that the preposition of at the twelfth word of the quoted sentence is almost certainly an optical character recognition error introduced in recent electronic versions of Pygmalion. The error is strikingly widespread—a Google Books search returns six confirmable instances of the sentence with the stray of present, from six different e-publishers, all dated 2015 or 2016—but that only emphasizes the echo chamber effect of online content.

A search for the sentence with the stray of omitted returns eighteen matches—the earliest one being from 1932 and the most recent from 2014 (citing the 1969 Penguin reprint of the play). Pygmalian was first produced in 1914 and first published in 1916.

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