a whole sneery complex

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diait

Senior Member
italy/italian
Hi all,

I am reading Nick Hornby's books column.
He has just finished reviewing the book "Unapologetic", where Francis Spufford explains "Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense". A book Hornby liked a lot, despite his being an atheist.
Then he goes on reviewing another book:

Cheryl Strayed won't thank me for this, I suspect, but there is something Christlike about her alter-ego, the advice columnist Sugar, whose columns have been collected into a book entitled "Beautiful tiny things". I don't want to accuse her of being messianic, but I'm sure Spufford would have something interesting to say about how atheists managed to spin a whole sneery complex out of the story of Jesus.

(then he goes on talking about the tolerance and wisdom and compassion Sugar/Strayed is capable of, when she answers her readers' letters)

I am at a loss with the sentence in bold.
Thanks to anyone who has a clue...
ciao
diana
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hello Diana,

    This is a transferred epithet coupled with a rather elaborate image.

    The image is the complex - usually these days a geographical entity like a centre with a conference room, a cinema, an accommodation block, etc. - but here a complicated take on the story of Jesus.

    The transferred epithet is sneery - it's not the complex which is sneering but the people who have created (spun) it who are doing so.

    So the whole means S would have something interesting to say about how atheists have managed sneeringly to create a misrepresentation of the story of Jesus, or something on those lines.
     

    diait

    Senior Member
    italy/italian
    oh, I see. So, Spufford would have something to say on how atheists managed to create a sneering representation of the story of Jesus (making fun of it, with a sneer)?
     

    diait

    Senior Member
    italy/italian
    as one user once said about another Hornby's entence, "clear as mud!" Thank you so much, Thomas. d
     

    diait

    Senior Member
    italy/italian
    I am still struggling... Could it be that Hornby means that Spufford could tell us a few interesting things on how atheists have put up a sneering superiority complex, spinning it out of the story of Jesus?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Not really.

    Spufford would have something interesting to say about how atheists managed to spin a whole sneery complex out of the story of Jesus.

    - how atheists have contrived sneeringly to create a misrepresentation of the story of Jesus.

    The verb spin is being used derisively here, meaning to create a deliberately false view.
     

    diait

    Senior Member
    italy/italian
    no, no way, it does not make sense.

    This is the whole paragraph.


    Cheryl Strayed won't thank me for this, I suspect, but there is something Christlike about her alter-ego, the advice columnist Sugar, whose columns have been collected into a book entitled "Beautiful tiny things". I don't want to accuse her of being messianic, although I suppose I must be doing precisely that, ethimologically speaking: I'm sure Francis Spufford would have something interesting to say about how atheists managed to spin a whole sneery complex out of the story of Jesus.
     

    diait

    Senior Member
    italy/italian
    I am sorry, I clicked on the reply button before reading your comment.

    But what has this (how atheists managed etc.) to do with him not wanting to accuse Strayed of being messianic?
    I am sorry, I am not an english native speaker
    d
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Is he saying that Strayed, an atheist, has created a sort of alterego, Sugar, who has Christlike qualities? Maybe Spufford is interested in the way non-believers can, maybe unwittingly - Do spiders know what they are doing when they spin a web? Can we always separate instinct from conscious intent? - make use of Christian images and ways of thought, for their own ends.

    If Spufford is saying things like that in his book, then he would have interesting things to say about the relationship between Strayed and Sugar.

    Hornby has a particular interest in Strayed, of course. He's been adapting her book, Wild, for a film.
     
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