my favorite novel

azz

Senior Member
armenian
Can one write
a. I am re-reading my favorite novel by Tolstoy.
b. I am re-reading my favorite novel, by Tolstoy.

?

The sentences are mine.

In the second one, 'by Tolstoy' is supposed to be non-defining. I am reading my favorite novel, which is by Tolstoy.

In the first one, 'by Tolstoy' is defining. I am not talking about my all-time favorite, but about my favorite novel among the ones written by Tolstoy.

I am under the impression that (a) works and does mean that I am re-reading my favorite novel among those written by Tolstoy. But my feeling is that (b) doesn't really work.

Many thanks.
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    You're right, b doesn't quite work because "by Tolstoy" seems disconnected.
    If it's a transcription of speech, where we do sometimes sound disconnected, I would write it as:
    I am re-reading my favourite novel -- by Tolstoy.

    It would sound more natural and correct to say any of these:

    I am re-reading my favourite novel, it's by Tolstoy.
    I am re-reading my favourite novel, one by Tolstoy.
    I am re-reading my favourite Tolstoy novel.
     

    azz

    Senior Member
    armenian
    Thank you so much,

    What would
    I am re-reading my favourite novel -- by Tolstoy.

    mean?

    Does it mean
    1. I am re-reading my favourite Tolstoy novel.
    or
    2. I am re-reading my favourite novel, it's by Tolstoy.
    ?

    As it is a transcription of spoken language, I suspect that it might correspond to either.

    Many thanks.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    There isn't really any difference is there?

    "-- by Tolstoy" looks like an afterthought, or clarification.
     

    azz

    Senior Member
    armenian
    Thank you very much.

    I am not sure I am following. The way I see it, my favorite 'Tolstoy novel' is not necessary my favorite novel. My favorite novel might be 'The Sound and the Fury' by Faulkner. My favorite 'Tolstoy novel' might be 'War and Peace'. My favorite 'Tolstoy novel' is my favorite novel in the category 'Tolstoy novels'. My favorite novel might not be in that category.

    I think you are saying that
    A. I am re-reading my favourite novel -- by Tolstoy.

    corresponds to

    2. I am re-reading my favourite novel. And that novel is by Tolstoy.

    but I am not sure. I am a bit confused.

    Could you clarify please?

    Many thanks.
     
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