a Beethoven; the deeply bowing Goethe

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SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
And Ravel summed it up: he didn't like Beethoven because his fame was based not on his music, which is obviously imperfect, but on the literary legend built around his life.
[...]
Bettina released from Goethe's hat the ugly birds of his servility, and from Beethoven's hat she caused to disappear (surely unwittingly) his music. She prepared for Goethe what was given to Tycho Brahe and what will be given to Jimmy Carter: ridiculous immortality. But ridiulous immortality lies in ambush for everyone; to Ravel, a Beethoven with his hat over his eyebrows was more ridiculous than the deeply bowing Goethe.

(Immortality; M. Kundera)

Would you be so kind as to explain to me the choice of the articles here? (Especially why it's not 'a' in both cases.)

Thanks.
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    a Beethoven (one typifying example of Beethoven in which he had) his hat over his eyebrows (as opposed to all the other facets/aspects/traits of Beethoven) was more ridiculous than the (that particular example of) deeply bowing Goethe.

    PS
    You could do more to explain all this talk about "hats". :thumbsup:
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    Thank you PaulQ!

    The talk about 'hats' ostensibly refers to a story in which Beethoven and Goethe went for a walk and came upon the Empress with her family and entourage. Goethe stepped to the side of the road, and took off his hat. Beethoven, on the other hand, pulled his hat even farther over his forehead, frowned, and kept on walking without slowing his pace.

     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    I'm still not quite sure whether the difference between 'a' and 'the' before 'deeply bowing Goethe' would be profoundly felt, as it were. Is 'the', strictly speaking, required here?

    Thanks.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    "Strictly speaking" is a phrase that would enable you to reduce the sentence to:
    But ridiulous immortality lies in ambush awaits everyone; to Ravel, a Beethoven with his hat over his eyebrows was more ridiculous than the deeply bowing Goethe.

    To keep to the style of the piece and to build upon his point, the author has used "a" and "the" correctly - any omission would lose information and the emotive thrust and the strong implication that that single act of Beethoven marked him out as an idiot.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    It is worth noting that this use of "an ABC ... the XYZ" also emphasises the gap between ABC and XYZ.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    "With his hat over his eyebrows" and "deeply bowing" have the same function — modify "Beethoven" and "Goethe". Only the former is a postmodifier while the latter is a premodifier
     
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