it is this which ... emphatic structure?

thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
The most insignificant of Strickland's works suggests a personality which is strange, tormented, and complex; and it is this surely which prevents even those who do not like his pictures from being indifferent to them; it is this which has excited so curious an interest in his life and character.

Excerpt from
The Moon and Sixpence
W Somerset Maugham

Hi. Do the underlined two clauses use emphatic structure (it is ... that ...)? If they do, why “which”, instead of “that”, is used here (as shown in bold)?
Thank you.
 
  • elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    - Yes.
    - Both “that” and “which” are acceptable. Maybe they used “which” to avoid “this that.”
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you. But in modern English we wouldn’t use “it is ... which” as an emphatic structure, right?

    By the way, do both “this”s in “it is this which ...” refer to “a personality”?
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    But in modern English we wouldn’t use “it is ... which” as an emphatic structure, right?
    Why wouldn’t we?

    (“this” = the fact that “[t]he most insignificant of Strickland's works suggests a personality which is strange, tormented, and complex”)
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I agree with #4. "This" means "this fact", and the fact is the entire earlier statement.

    Many writers would have written "this fact" instead of "this".
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I recommend that you use sentence forms you were taught at school. But being taught to use "that/who" means those are the most common (in the kind of English you were taught: BE or AE). It doesn't mean "which" is not acceptable.

    Excerpt from
    The Moon and Sixpence
    W Somerset Maugham
    The book was published 100 years ago, and the writer is British, so this is old-fashioned BE. Maybe "which" was more common back then or in BE.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top