in trying to solve which all previous investigations

Discussion in 'English Only' started by makeeverything, May 24, 2012.

  1. makeeverything Senior Member

    chinese-english
    The discovery of surplus value suddenly threw light on the problem,in trying to solve which all previous investigations, of both bourgeois economists and socialist critics , had been groping in the dark. The structure of the sentence is confusing for me. I know we can omit the part "of both bourgeois economists and socialist critics" , but I don't know what function "which" serves as . However I analyze the structure of the sentence, I don't know how the sentence is made up of.
     
  2. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    God that's an awfully-written sentence. Here, I'll separate it out for you:

    The discovery of surplus value suddenly threw light on the problem.
    All previous investigations, of both bourgeois economists and socialist critics, had been groping in the dark
    in trying to solve the problem.

    "Which" refers back to "the problem."
     
  3. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    'Which' can be part of various larger relative phrases at the beginning of a relative clause:

    the problem, which economists had tried to solve . . .
    the problem, part of which economists had tried to solve . . .
    the problems, many of which economists had tried to solve . . .
    the problem, trying to solve which economists had been groping in the dark . . .

    Compare those to the equivalent sentences where there is ordinary word order, not a relative clause:

    economists had tried to solve the problem
    economists had tried to solve part of the problem
    economists had tried to solve many of the problems
    economists had been groping in the dark trying to solve the problem
     
  4. Pertinax

    Pertinax Senior Member

    Queensland, Aust
    BrE->AuE
    You can also understand this by flipping "in trying to solve" to the end of the sentence, out of the relative phrase:
    The discovery of surplus value suddenly threw light on the problem which all previous investigations, of both bourgeois economists and socialist critics, had been groping in the dark (in) trying to solve.
     

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