1

It is possible that a greater refinement of manners may give birth to finer distinctions of satire and a nicer tact for the ridiculous; but our insular situation and character are, I should say, most likely to foster, as they have in fact fostered, the great quantity of natural and striking humour, in spite of our plodding tenaciousness, and want both of gaiety and quickness of perception.

— William Hazlitt (1778–1830), via bartleby.com

I assume want in the last clause is a verb, not a noun, but I am not sure what is its subject. Can anyone share more insights here?

  • 3
    No, it's a noun. Try putting another 'our' before it. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 1 '18 at 12:21
  • if want is a noun, then it should be put like: want of both gaiety and quickness of perception. I felt a bit ungrammatical to say 'our want both of...' – Dave Hwang Jan 1 '18 at 12:24
  • 1
    If it's a verb, then it boils down "our insular situation and character want both of gaiety and quickness of perception", which doesn't really make much sense. That clause goes best with "in spite of our plodding tenaciousness and [something]," where [something] is generally bad, like a lack of gaiety and perspicacity. – Andrew Leach Jan 1 '18 at 12:29
  • 3
    I could find quite a few things in this passage I'm not too keen on (but then I don't read all that much 200-year-old prose). In spite of this, 'want' here is a noun meaning 'lack'. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 1 '18 at 12:29
  • 1
    If it's not a rude question why are you starting to learn English by reading a lot of 200 year old prose? (And it is "prose", not "proses") Most native speakers I know would find sophisticated 18th century wit difficult to understand, let alone someone who was just starting to learn English as a second language. Modern literature would be a better starting point, try John le Carre, Jeffery Deaver or JK Rowling. – BoldBen Jan 1 '18 at 13:57
-1

It IS possible that a greater refinement of manners may give birth to finer distinctions of satire and a nicer tact for the ridiculous

= INDEPENDENT CLAUSE_1 /COMPLEX SENTENCE_1 - CONTAINS A NOUN CLAUSE: "THAT a greater refinement of manners MAY GIVE birth to a finer distinctions of satire and (... birth to) a nicer tact for the ridiculous" - IS IN APPOSITION TO THE PRONOUN "It"

+

; = SEMICOLON

but = COORDINATING CONJUNCTION

+

our insular situation and character ARE, (I should say, most likely to foster, as they have in fact fostered,) the great quantity of natural and striking humour, (in spite of our plodding tenaciousness), and (OUR INSULAR SITUATION AND CHRACTER) WANT both of gaiety and quickness of perception.

= INDEPENDENT CLAUSE_2 / COMPLEX SENTENCE_2 - CONTAINS SOME MODIFYING PHRASES AND CLAUSES

= COMPOUND-COMPLEX SENTENCE

ANSWER :

OUR INSULAR SITUATION AND CHRACTER = SUBJECT;

WANT both of gaiety and quickness of perception = PREDICATE

THANKS.

  • Welcome to EL&U, but in future, please don't shout. Also, I'm not sure there's really an answer in all that capitalization; the question asked specifically about the subject of the final clause. – JPmiaou Jan 1 '18 at 17:02
  • Is there any chance you could stop using capitals ? It looks as though you are shouting. – Nigel J Jan 1 '18 at 17:03
  • Extremely sorry for using capital s – Chokkalingam Gunasekaran Jan 2 '18 at 1:20
  • now I got 2 opposite answers. @ChokkalingamGunasekaran, so with your answer, you also assumed 'want' here is a verb, right? – Dave Hwang Jan 2 '18 at 12:29

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