afford

Hela

Senior Member
Tunisia - French
Dear members,

Would you please tell me how you understand the word "afford" hereunder, and why?

Why novels and plays are so often untrue to life is because their authors, perhaps of necessity, make their characters all of a piece. They cannot afford to make them self-contradictory [1) writers could not allow themselves to make the characters contradictory 2) writers could not allow the characters to be self-contradictory], for then they become incomprehensible, and yet self-contradictory is what most of us are.
Somerset Maugham, A friend in need

Thank you for your help.
Hela
 
  • mjscott

    Senior Member
    American English
    Dear members,

    Would you please tell me how you understand the word "afford" hereunder, and why?

    Why novels and plays are so often untrue to life is because their authors, perhaps of necessity, make their characters all of a piece. They cannot afford to make them self-contradictory [1) writers could not allow themselves to make the characters contradictory 2) writers could not allow the characters to be self-contradictory], for then they become incomprehensible, and yet self-contradictory is what most of us are.
    Somerset Maugham, A friend in need

    Thank you for your help.
    Hela
    Your second answer makes more sense. A novel is only so long--and only the best of the best of writers can budget such complex development of the character with a few words. If the character is so complex that many facets of his/her character are developed in words, sometimes the text gets boring, or the story line is sacrificed. Most publishers, without even much reading or editing, will reject a manuscript that is too long. They will send it back to the author for editing. Again, only the best-of-the-best of writers will be afforded the luxury of a reading by a text publisher if the postage on the manuscript is more than what is considered normal.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    The meaning of "afford" here is given in Merriam-Webster:
    "to manage to bear without serious detriment"

    If a writer creates characters that are self-contradictory he or she runs the risk of those characters not being believable, despite the fact that in real life many people are self-contradictory. However, fiction has to be more conventional than reality, for it to be convincing. It's like having unlikely co-incidences in your story, these happen in real life, but in fiction they are unbelievable.

    The detriment that the writer cannot afford is that of losing his or her audience because they consider the work to be too far-fetched.
     

    carolmoraiss

    Senior Member
    Portuguese
    Hi, could you please help me understand what "afford" means in this passage?

    "The Sixth Amendment says I shall enjoy the right to a speedy trial. Our forefathers were fucking idiots if they thought anyone could enjoy their trials. But what isn't afforded by most Americans is the right to a speedy holding process[...]" (Freedom's Child, Jax Miller).

    Does it have the same meaning as enjoy?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think there is an error (by the speaker in the novel, or by the writer?). It should be: "But what isn't afforded (to) most Americans is the right..."

    The meaning of "afford" here is "give to" or "confer upon".
     
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