though I should do so as a rule.

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "though I should do so as a rule." means in the following sentences:

‘I knew that the ash was late; some lines of Tennyson come to my memory.’
‘Which are those?’

‘Delaying, as the tender ash delays
To clothe herself when all the woods are green,

somewhere in the “Idylls.”’
‘I don’t remember; so I won’t pretend to—though I should do so as a rule.

- George Gissing, New Grub Street, Chapter 3

In this novel, which was published in 1891 in the United Kingdom, Jasper Milvain, the protagonist who was aspiring to become a literary critic, met Marian Yule, the daughter of the established literary critic Alfred Yule, on the walk. When Jasper noted that there was an ash nearby, but it was yet to become lush with leaves when all the other trees were green, Marian remembered some lines of Tennyson and recited them.

In this part, I am confused why Jasper said the underlined part.
Does it mean that, an aspirant to become a literary critic, he must pretend that he knew all the literary sentences at normal times, say, in front of other people?
Or that, because of his boastful personality, he is usually inclined to pretend to know all the things regardless of his career pursuit?
In short, I would like to know the tone contained in this expression.

I would very much appreciate your help. :)
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    It is not clear what "so" refers to: "remember" or "pretend". "Pretend probably makes more sense, that as a rule (=usually) he would pretend to remember lines of poetry, even when he doesn't remember them. "Should" is "would" in modern English (ordinary first person usage)..

    If it refers to "remember", he is saying that he usually does remember lines of poetry that people quote, that he has an excellent memory for poetry.

    I don't think there is any need to take either the pretence or the remembering (whichever it is) beyond lines of poetry, or maybe literature in general.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear Uncle Jack,

    Thank you very much for the explanation.
    Then it is more likely that Jasper often pretended that he knew lines of poetry when he didn't.
    Then may I take that Jasper pretended to know the lines of poetry or literature in general without any specific reason, regardless of his literary career?
    I was somehow thinking that this might be his roundabout joke about his literary critism, saying that he pretended to know literary works when he didn't when criticizing novels or poems.
    This might be just a far-fetched idea of mine, of course. :p
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Then may I take that Jasper pretended to know the lines of poetry or literature in general without any specific reason, regardless of his literary career?
    Probably not. He might have developed this habit entirely as a result of trying to pursue a literary career. "As a rule" does not suggest any period of time that he has been doing this.
    was somehow thinking that this might be his roundabout joke about his literary critism, saying that he pretended to know literary works when he didn't when criticizing novels or poems.
    This might be just a far-fetched idea of mine, of course. :p
    It is possible. I don't know the book, and haven't read enough of your posts on here to have formed much of an impression of the writer's or the character's style.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear Uncle Jack,

    Thank you very much for the detailed explanation.
    Then I may take that he developed his feining to know literary lines as a result of pursuing his literary career.

    I sincerely appreciate your help. :)
     
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