grin herself stupid

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Kathy Nguyen

Senior Member
Vietnam
"No-one had ever given her music before. She would grin herself stupid, watching the lines drawing themselves down his face, and the soft metal of his eyes – until the swearing arrived from the kitchen." (Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief)

I'm wondering if it should have been "grin herself stupidly" instead since "stupid" is an adjective not an adverb. Is it simply a typographical error or actually deliberately used for a certain literary purpose?
Thank you so much for helping!
 
  • The pianist

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "No-one had ever given her music before. She would grin herself stupid, watching the lines drawing themselves down his face, and the soft metal of his eyes – until the swearing arrived from the kitchen." (Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief)

    I'm wondering if it should have been "grin herself stupidly" instead since "stupid" is an adjective not an adverb. Is it simply a typographical error or actually deliberately used for a certain literary purpose?
    Thank you so much for helping!
    No it's correct as is. It's a way of saying "she would grin herself to the point of being (looking) stupid." 'stupid' is an adjective describing 'herself'. This construction has the adjective following the reflexive pronoun.
     

    Kathy Nguyen

    Senior Member
    Vietnam
    No it's correct as is. It's a way of saying "she would grin herself to the point of being (looking) stupid." 'stupid' is an adjective describing 'herself'. This construction has the adjective following the reflexive pronoun.
    Thank you for helping. The structure seems confusing to me, I don't think I can deploy it in my own writing at the moment.

    But we don't usually say, '{She'd} grin herself...'. The sentence is an odd invention. We can say, "Make yourself look stupid." "He'd wear himself out."
    Thank you for helping. That being said, I think I shouldn't try to use it in my own writing, should I?
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with benny.

    But you could use the same construction - verb, object, object complement - to create everyday sentences like:
    She made herself unhappy.
    She painted the door red.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    She ate herself sick: she ate and ate until she was sick.
    She shouted herself hoarse: she shouted until she was hoarse.
    She laughed herself silly: She laughed so much that she...coldn't stop/lost control/was rolling about on the floor...something of the kind.

    She grinned herself stupid: Hmm...Doesn't really work for me. I suspect it just means that she couldn't stop grinning, which made her look (or feel?) stupid. Perhaps context would help. Is this a case of a girl in love having a stupid grin on her face all the time?
     

    Kathy Nguyen

    Senior Member
    Vietnam
    She ate herself sick: she ate and ate until she was sick.
    She shouted herself hoarse: she shouted until she was hoarse.
    She laughed herself silly: She laughed so much that she...coldn't stop/lost control/was rolling about on the floor...something of the kind.

    She grinned herself stupid: Hmm...Doesn't really work for me. I suspect it just means that she couldn't stop grinning, which made her look (or feel?) stupid. Perhaps context would help. Is this a case of a girl in love having a stupid grin on her face all the time?
    This is an excerpt from the book including the phrase discussed above
    "Some days, Papa told her to get back into bed and wait a minute, and he would return with his accordion and play for her. Liesel would sit up and hum, her cold toes clenched with excitement. No-one had ever given her music before. She would grin herself stupid, watching the lines drawing themselves down his face, and the soft metal of his eyes – until the swearing arrived from the kitchen. ‘STOP THAT NOISE, SAUKERL!’ Papa would play a little longer. He would wink at the girl and, clumsily, she’d wink back."
    (Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief)

    So Liesel grinned herself stupid because she felt so eager and joyful when having a chance to watch her foster father playing the accordion.
    I hope the extract can help
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Thanks for the fuller context and the explanation, Kathy.

    So the girl is not very old, I imagine.

    So Liesel grinned herself stupid because she felt so eager and joyful when having a chance to watch her foster father playing the accordion.
    :thumbsup: I see.

    It's creative writing, and if this is a young girl or small child it makes more sense. She seems to have been so overjoyed that she couldn't contain her smiles. I imagine a great big beam of enjoyment on her face. It's rather similar to my example of "she laughed herself silly", I think.
     
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