he of the dashing moustache and tweed jackets, like a pirate

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Ars Magna

New Member
Dear fellow linguists,

I've stumbled upon quite a peculiar construction in the middle of the following sentence:

When Zafar wanted to demonstrate his prowess at rugby, the new guy Tony Dunblane – he of the dashing moustache and tweed jackets, like a pirate from the suburbs – took father and son to the police sports ground at Bushey and the men lined up like a three-quarter line so that Zafar could run and pass the rugby ball.

The sentence itself is rather simple, but "he of the dashing moustache and tweed jackets" has left me puzzled. Could anyone elaborate, whether this is a specific construction or simply an idiosyncratic expression of a certain Mr Rushdie:)
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "He of the dashing moustache and tweed jackets" is a specific but useful construction. "X of the <attribute> and <attribute>." It was probably originally used in all seriousness but now has a light-hearted, humorous feel to it.

    It can be used positively or negatively. "I went to see Brenda the other day - she of the numerous cats and poor personal hygiene."


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I too tend to hear this as light-hearted and jocular, as Paul says. I think also there is also a mock dramatic or literary quality to it.

    Some other examples:
    ... it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum as a traveling preacher named Harry Powell (he of the tattooed knuckles) (source)
    And he of the swollen purple throat. And the stark and staring eyes, Waits for the holy hands that took The Thief to Paradise (Wilde, 'The Ballad of Reaing Gaol')



    Senior Member
    English - America
    It can also be regarded as literary or poetic, depending upon the seriousness of the author. It has an "old-timey" sound to it, so it can make the writer/speaker sound academic if that is the intention, but as said above, can be said in a mocking, jocular tone. Nevertheless, it is not specific to Mr. Rushdie. It is more than uncommon to come across this kind of phrasing in English.

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