deu-lhe algum sentido superior


Senior Member
USA English
I'm confused by a passage from a story by Machado. A boy's father has died; the boy is being kept home from school--he hates school--and yet he has just told his mother he wants to go back to school sooner rather than later:

Não sorria; se pudesse, sorriria de gosto ao ver que eu queria voltar mais cedo à escola. Mas, sabendo que eu não gostava de aprender, como entenderia a emenda? Provavelmente, deu-lhe algum sentido superior, conselho do céu ou do marido. Em verdade, eu não folgava, se lerdes isto com o sentido de rir. Com o de descansar também não cabe, porque minha mãe fazia-me estudar, e, tanto como o estudo, aborrecia-me a atitude.

I'm having trouble with the three uses of "sentido"; what exactly does Machado mean there? She was given some superior sense? She gave it (his preference) some higher meaning? I wasn't having a good time, if you're reading this thinking I wanted to stay home to enjoy myself? Or to rest? Does "isto" refer to "folgar"? I'm confused!
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  • donbeto

    Senior Member
    Eng (Canada)
    I think your second suggestion is closer. I don't think sense of superiority applies in this case, more like he wanted to return to school, not because he liked learning but rather it (probably) gave him a higher, maybe heavenly, feeling.

    As for the second part, I think he's trying to say that in actuality, he was not rejoicing, even it it may appear that way from reading this (isto).


    Senior Member
    Português (Brasil)
    "Provavelmente, deu-lhe algum sentido superior, conselho do céu ou do marido":
    Probably, she attributed his choice to some heaven advice or maybe an inspiration from the late father. This superior means "from heaven" or something like this.

    "Em verdade, eu não folgava, se lerdes isto com o sentido de rir. Com o de descansar também não cabe..."
    It's difficult for me to understand too, but I'd try:
    Actually I didn't have fun, if you think that was the motivation.
    Intend to relax or rest couldn't either be my motivation.


    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    'Folgar' has two meanings that are relevant in this particular context:

    1- Divertir-se, rir, ter prazer
    2- Descansar

    So, I think Machado is referring to the word 'folgar' itself or, rather how to interpret it. The double meaning is quite difficult to translate in English. At least I'm unable to do that. You need to find a verb that has also both meanings in English and that's beyond my capabilities, like this 'Actually I didn't 'folgar', if you read 'folgar' (isto, this thing, this word) in the sense of 'rir' (enjoying, as 'rir com alguma coisa' has also the meaning of enjoying it). 'Descansar' (to rest, to take a break) doesn't also aplly because my mother made me studying'.

    Parece-me que será esta a leitura a dar ao texto, que admito que não seja muito claro.

    P.S. As to meaning of 'sentido superior' I believe it means 'a transcendental meaning', that is his mother attributed to his 'folgar' behaviour a more transcendental/higher meaning than those more earthly meanings of enjoying the situation or taking a break.
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    Senior Member
    USA English
    Thank you, Carfer! Your interpretation, I see now, is certainly correct. Perhaps I can translate folgar as enjoy myself, since one could enjoy oneself either by having fun or by taking a break.
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