accidents, some of them grave, had not failed to occur. [Henry James]

Horizens

Senior Member
Arabic
What is the syntactic analysis of the following sentence: "Half the woman of his time, to speak liberally, had flung themselves at his head, and while the fury raged-the more that it was very catching- accidents, some of them grave, had not failed to occur."?
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Where did you see this, Horizens?

    How would analyze it? Once you have made an attempt people will be glad to help you.

    Also: The words 'woman' and 'liberally' are out of place. Is this the way it was written? Or are those copying errors?
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    The verb phrase "had flung themselves..." seems to need a plural subject, so I suppose "woman" is an error for "women".
    After this correction is made, I don't see any words out of place.
    But Cagey is right: You need to specify what part of the sentence is giving you trouble.
     

    Horizens

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    The part of the sentence that is giving me trouble : "...accidents, some of them grave, had not failed to occur."

    Note: This sentence is taken from : The Asperen Papers for Henry James.
     
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    Horizens

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Can I be helped with the underlined structure: "Half the women of his time, to speak liberally, had flung themselves at his head, and while the fury raged-the more that it was very catching- accidents, some of them grave, had not failed to occur."? What is meant by accidents?
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    In this context, "grave" means serious, severe, consequential. The accidents were apparently as Thomas said,* though that is something we have to guess at by knowledge of the social setting, rather than something actually in the words.

    I would paraphrase "accidents, some of them grave, had not failed to occur" approximately as meaning "problems, some of them serious, had resulted." The reader is expected to guess the nature of the problems from the information earlier in the sentence, that they were problems resulting from women madly throwing themselves at a man.

    * (I assume, since he is familiar with the Aspern papers as I am not - it is not self-evident that this is the only sort of accident; there could be others suggested by the sentence, such as angry families, attempts to force him into marriage, sexually transmitted diseases... you may think of others yourself)
     
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