foiled of my purpose

thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
I shrugged my shoulders, and went into the shop. I reflected that French paper was bad, and that, foiled of my purpose, I need not burden myself with a purchase I did not need. I asked for something I knew could not be provided, and in a minute came out into the street.

Excerpt from The Moon and Sixpence
W Somerset Maugham

Hi. What does “foil of” mean?
Thank you.
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    You need to give some context: what had the narrator done, why had he done it and what had been his purpose in doing it? :thumbsup:
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    At last we passed a stationer's, and it occurred to me that I might as well buy some paper. It would be an excuse to be rid of him.

    Excerpt from The Moon and Sixpence
    W Somerset Maugham

    The narrator ran into Strickland on the street one day, who offered to walk along with the narrator. The narrator disliked Strickland but the latter insisted on going with the former. So they walk together silently. And when they passed a stationer’s, the narrator thought of an excuse to get rid of Strickland.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    If his (secondary) purpose was to buy some good paper, he didn't succeed (he was foiled in that purpose). He decided it wsn't worth buying the bad French paper, so he found an excuse to leave the shop without buying anything.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    If his (secondary) purpose was to buy some good paper, he didn't succeed (he was foiled in that purpose). He decided it wsn't worth buying the bad French paper, so he found an excuse to leave the shop without buying anything.
    Thank you. But I think his purpose was to get rid of Strickland, not to buy some good paper. :confused:
    And why did he say “foiled of my purpose” rather than “foiled in my purpose”? Is the former archaic?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The context is still not at all clear:

    The narrator did not want to be with Strickland and decided to say that he would go into a shop and buy something in the hopes that Strickland would contunue on without him. However,
    I began to feel a little ridiculous. At last we passed a stationer's, and it occurred to me that I might as well buy some paper. It would be an excuse to be rid of him.​
    "I'm going in here," I said. "Good-bye."​
    "I'll wait for you." [said Strickland]​
    I reflected that French paper was bad, and that, foiled of my purpose,
    = and having had the purpose of my ruse defeated [by Strickland's saying he would wait for me...]
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    He needed some good paper. He would have bought it if it was there. Since he failed to get away from Strickland he was not going to compound his difficulties by buying something (the French paper) that was a waste of money, just for show. So he asked for something else he knew would be unavailable so he had an excuse for coming out with nothing.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you all. I see. So why is “of” in “foiled of” used here? I myself would have written “with my purpose foiled (by Strickland’s saying he would wait for me)”.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I can't find a definition of of that answers that question well, but we use 'of' with some verbs implying separation. A more common verb is 'deprived': He was deprived of his freedom.

    Foil isn't used as often these days. 'Foiled of' sounds old-fashioned or dated, though when the story was written it had no such association.
     
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