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This is again a translation, and I am trying to convey a meaning without making it sound a translation. The sentence is:

This book is the mirror in which I can see my wretchedness.

Now in the original language the verb used has many connotations: sitting opposite/having the guts to do it/seeing something that inflicts pain on you. I am looking for a verb which can express willingly seeing something painful. There is no element of surprise there, but rather of intent and of courage to look in that mirror and see.

For example, I am thinking that behold is not really the word here, because it is more often used in the sense of contemplate, and in this context it would sound too positive.

4 Answers 4

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You could try

... in which I admit ...”,

”... in which I confess to ...”,

or “... in which I face up to ...” {which has overtones of intending to do something as a consequence}

or “face ...” {which is a more passive acceptance of what you see}

All are predicated on your already knowing how wretched you are, combined with the moment of perception and honest acceptance of it.

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  • Admitting and confessing are a bit too far from from seeing. I like face because it implies almost all the connotations required, but why up to? Can I not just say "face my wretchedness"?
    – fev
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 8:17
  • Good point. I have edited to accommodate it.
    – Anton
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 8:28
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    I immediately thought of face up to for your phrase willingly seeing something painful. One of the definitions is accept that a difficult situation exists. Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 8:45
  • I definitely need to look more into this phrase! I was just put of by the "up to" part when I need something that sits opposite me, if that makes sense. Can you face up to something you see in a mirror or is it enough that you face something you see in a mirror?
    – fev
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 9:55
  • The expression is metaphorical, so the position of the thing being 'faced up to' makes no difference. Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 12:53
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Apparently, the use of "to see" to be reckoned with is found here: OALD, 9.

​ [intransitive, transitive](not usually used in the progressive tenses) to understand something
see something — He didn't see the joke. I don't think she saw the point of the story. He changed the way we see the world around us.

In consequence, the verbal form "come to grips (with sth)" could render the meaning.

  • This book is the mirror in which I can come to grips with my wretchedness.

(OALD) to begin to understand and deal with sth difficult

The "deal" part of the meaning confers the idea of facing courageously the problem rather than that of shying from it (which is also a way to "deal" with a problem).

  • This book is the mirror in which I can come to grips with my wretchedness.
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  • I prefer something that involves "seeing something with your eyes"
    – fev
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 9:51
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This book is the mirror in which I witness my wretchedness.

I think 'witness' gives the negative connotation you are looking for. It conveys the feeling of witnessing your failures and accepting that they pain you.

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  • "witness" is a good synonym, but it is a bit passive. Up to now, I prefer "face", but I will wait for other options a bit longer.
    – fev
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 10:55
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I am suggesting an entirely new answer based on a thorough reading of your question. Now basically you seem to want a verb which serves its purpose in a twofold manner— "seeing" your image in the mirror and wanting to deliberately take whatever you see head-on, both of which are elegantly covered by confront

American Heritage Dictionary defines it as—

To come face to face with, especially with defiance or hostility: I wish to confront my accuser in a court of law.

To bring face to face with: The defendant was confronted with incontrovertible evidence of guilt.

To come up against; encounter: confronted danger at every turn.

EDIT— Seeing as the OP doesn't seem to be satisfied with the plethora of words and expressions already supplied, I suggest that the OP rephrase the sentence to allow for these, and/or different word choices. In particular, this "mirror metaphor" makes it hard for the OP to decide amongst the vast array of already supplied words.

The OP might not like my rendition of his sentence but I am certain this version retains the full import of the original sentence:

This book opens up vistas wherein we relive our own wretchedness.

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    I agree. It is a word I would have included in my list of possibilities but I had not had my coffee today so it refused to come up from my word bag.
    – Anton
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 10:05
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    @user405662: "Confront" is a reasonable option, but it is slightly more hostile than "face". I like about "face" that it is neutral and has the idea of being in front of you (in a mirror).
    – fev
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 10:17
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    @Anton: Oh I perfectly understand! I need one too!
    – fev
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 10:17
  • @Anton— Indeed, coffee does help. ;)
    – user405662
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 11:47
  • @fev—I understand. I have edited my answer to accommodate your preferences, I believe.
    – user405662
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 11:54

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