He got to his bed, and after many fond goodnights from her.

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Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
He finally got to his own bed in tears, and after many fond goodnights from her.
(Kafka, Franz. Amerika (The Man Who Disappeared). Trans. Michael Hofmann.)

Do you get the sense that this sentence is incomplete? I certainly do. It's as though something should follow "and after many fond goodnights from her". Alternatively, and I think that this is how the sentence should be read, the intended meaning is:

After many fond goodnights from her, he finally got to his own bed in tears.

This is how I would write it. Now, I do not want to criticize Michael Hofmann who is a very accomplished translator, but his sentence looks odd to me and I wonder if perhaps his construction is uncommon.

What do you think?
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I see exactly what you mean, Couch. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it grammatically, but yes, I was kind of expecting something to follow.
    If there hadn't been a comma in the middle, that feeling of expectation would have been a lot less.

    Your rewrite is perfect ... but doesn't have the same emphasis on tears as the original.


    Senior Member
    The structure is similar to this sentence, which I'm making up but which is idiomatic, at least to my ears:
    I can't believe he'd lie to my like that, and after all I've done for him!

    It is a weird structure, now that I think about it, but it's very...conversational. It's really kind of an inverted sentence:
    After everything I've done for him, I can't believe he'd lie to me like that.
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