far off and withdrawn

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arietenata

Senior Member
italian
Hi there,

Do you agree with my reading of this phrase?

" All health and success does me good, however far off and withdrawn it may appear, all disease and failure helps to make me sad and does me evil, however much sympathy it may have with me or I with it."
Walden

I read it as:
" When I see health and success in other people it makes me happy, though it makes them seem far and withdrawn to me, and disease and failure make me sad, though it makes me feel sympathy with them or make them have sympathy with me."

Did I get it right?

Many thanks in advance.
 
  • rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think you're right, Arietenata. Or at least, I can't think of another interpretation. I must say, it's a sloppy sentence. Withdrawn when describing people usually means shy and retiring. It has negative overtones. It's not a word you'd use to describe healthy and successful people. And I don't see how you can sympathise with disease and failure or how such abstract phenomena can sympathise with you. You can sympathise with people who suffer from disease and experience failure.
     

    arietenata

    Senior Member
    italian
    Thanks a lot. I thought he used these as a metaphor, but he really meant people in these situations, don't you agree?
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm inclined to agree with you, although I suppose you could argue that he was personifying health, success, disease, and failure.

    You could argue that withdrawn it should be withdrawn they because health and success are two things, and sympathy it and with it should be sympathy they and with them because disease and failure are two things. But perhaps this is being pedantic
     
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