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This question is part of 5 lb. Book of GRE® Practice Problems Verbal Question Directory.

The following is a GRE-style sentence-equivalence question, where two of the six given options fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

James Joyce, the author of many novels, including Lady Chatterley’s Lover, saw deeply into the hearts of his characters, but, in a life irony as subtle yet piercing as those endured by his characters, he himself could barely _________ text well enough to proof his own galleys.

a) see

b) feel

c) walk

d) move

e) distinguish

f) interpret

The correct options are A and E.

Can anyone explain me why option F is incorrect?

Moreover, I've never seen the structure "as .. yet ..". I've looked that up on the internet, but couldn't find any relevant explanations.

I would appreciate your help.

Thanks in advance.

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  • Please edit to cite and link to a dictionary for the word “interpret”, and explain why you think it should be admissible as an answer in the given context.
    – Lawrence
    Sep 5 '18 at 23:38
  • 1
    I'd be very suspicious of a workbook which counts Lady Chat among the "many" (three) novels James Joyce wrote. Sep 5 '18 at 23:57
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The difference has to do with whether or not we are talking about construing something according to one's own understanding, tendencies, or preferences. In case of the verb "to interpret," we would be. In case of "seeing" and "distinguishing," on the other hand, we are simply talking about having access to what is there. In other words, ask yourself whether using judgement is emphasized.

That is why "interpret" is a wrong answer. Insofar as matters of bad eyesight go, there is no judgment or interpretation necessary—you simply need to be able to see what is there on the page.

As for the "as...yet..." construction, I don't think it's actually correct to think of it as an "as...yet... construction". In other words, read the phrase like this, and you will see that the as and yet are not really working together to create a specific construction: "in a life irony as subtle-yet-piercing as those endured by his characters..."

What IS working together there are the two instances of "as." The construction is a comparison like "Johnny is not as tall as Sarah."

Note: In English we add hyphens between words in order to make the whole bit function as an adjective. That is what I mean by "subtle-yet-piercing." It becomes an adjective. Think of it serving the same function as "wet" in the following: "in a climate as wet as those endured by his characters..."

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