as pure hues of rose and lily as ever her humid gales...generated and screened, justified...the term

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Irelia20150604

Senior Member
Chinese
The quotation comes from Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (Chap. 31) | Genius

Quotation: He turned at last, with measured deliberation. A vision, as it seemed to me, had risen at his side. There appeared, within three feet of him, a form clad in pure white—a youthful, graceful form: full, yet fine in contour; and when, after bending to caress Carlo, it lifted up its head, and threw back a long veil, there bloomed under his glance a face of perfect beauty. Perfect beauty is a strong expression; but I do not retrace or qualify it: as sweet features as ever the temperate clime of Albion molded; as pure hues of rose and lily as ever her humid gales and vapory skies generated and screened, justified, in this instance, the term.
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Hi everyone! I don’t understand the bold part. I try to interpret it as below. Is it correct?

The general idea => In this instance, the sweetest features that ever the temperate clime of Albion molded and the purest hues of rose and lily that (= the hues) ever her humid gales and vapory skies generated and screened justified the term (= perfect beauty).

The underlined parts are subjects and the bold part is predicate.

To generate => to bring into existence
To screen => to shelter or conceal with or as if with a screen:

the purest hues of rose and lily that ever her humid gales and vapory skies generated and screened => the purest hues of rose and lily that ever her humid gales and vapory skies brought into existence and sheltered.
 
  • goldenband

    Senior Member
    English - American
    You've interpreted this tricky sentence very well. My only correction would be that there's a significant difference between "the sweetest" and "as sweet as ever [was made]". The former is more direct and forcefully superlative, while "as ___ as ever" is more indirect and avoids overt comparison with other potential candidates.

    If you say that a girl was "the prettiest girl in Podunk", it's placing her above all other girls in Podunk, whereas if you say she was "as pretty a girl as ever Podunk's sons and daughters had sired", you're leaving room for other girls (past or present) to be equally pretty.

    The formulation "as ___ as ever X made" also allows for some possibility that X didn't make the subject of the sentence, e.g.

    The modernist sculpture was flawless -- a work as perfect as ever the Greeks wrought.
    The painter's approach was as bizarre and incomprehensible as ever the Surrealists could have imagined.


    That said, I suspect most of us would prefer changing "as ever" to "as any(thing)" in cases like these.

    Otherwise, I think your interpretation is very sound. "Generated and screened" is the trickiest part (at least to me), but I think your paraphrase is correct.
     

    Irelia20150604

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    :idea: WOW! Thank you for your detailed explanations. :D

    I have to say I have missed the significant difference between "the sweetest" and "as sweet as ever [was made]". Without your corrections, I would not know it. Many thanks. :D
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Note that the "her" refers to "Albion" (= Britain.)

    I would paraphrase the sentence this way:

    Perfect beauty is a strong expression; but I do not retrace or qualify it: she had features that were as sweet as ever the pleasant climate of Britain shaped; a complexion that mingled the colors of pink and white as purely and as perfectly as the moist and cloudy climate of Britain ever created and protected (= "screened", that is, from the harsh rays of the sun, which would have darkened her complexion). Her truly perfect beauty justified the use of the term "perfect beauty."
     

    goldenband

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Note that the "her" refers to "Albion" (= Britain.)
    [...]
    a complexion that mingled the colors of pink and white as purely and as perfectly as the moist and cloudy climate of Britain ever created and protected (= "screened", that is, from the harsh rays of the sun, which would have darkened her complexion).
    Both very good points. I forget that lilies are archetypically white -- the ones that grow in my yard are pink -- so I struggled to relate that to the subject's complexion. :)
     
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