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"He felt OF his knee." Options
TheParser
Posted: Sunday, April 7, 2013 8:22:42 AM
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That's what the famous American novelist Ernest Hemingway wrote.

Would you please explain the use of the preposition? Is that "old-fashioned" English?


Thank you.
IMcRout
Posted: Sunday, April 7, 2013 10:58:25 AM
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Are you sure this is not the result of bad scanning and should in fact read 'He fell on his knee.'?

Maybe if you told us where you found this sentence?
thar
Posted: Sunday, April 7, 2013 12:00:23 PM

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I would say it could be old-fashioned style, if it is not a typo, (scanno?), or mean 'feel about something...that something'.
BUt it does stand on its own, I think. YOu use that preposition with the noun
he had a feel of his knee
and it does feel right to me in an old-fashioned style to hear 'to feel of....' in the same way. Whence it cometh, correct or no, I cannot say! I don't know anything about H's style so I don't know if that would be a reasonable deduction. Whistle

or even if I am right Think
TheParser
Posted: Sunday, April 7, 2013 12:43:34 PM
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Thar: Thank you.

IMcRout:

I went to Google and typed: "He felt of his knee Hemingway."

Many results came up with the "of." It appeared in a story called "The Battler."

One result, however, had the "of" deleted. Perhaps the decision of a later edition's editor?


Thank you
IMcRout
Posted: Sunday, April 7, 2013 1:01:33 PM
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I think thar is right. It is NOT a typo or 'scanno'. I checked my own copy of the story and found the sentence right at the beginning. Nick, the protagonist, was discovered to be a stowaway and was pushed off a train by the brakeman. He now examines his body and his clothes to find out whether anything is wrong. Today we'd probably leave out the 'of'.
Maybe one of our American friends can shed some light on this usage?
thar
Posted: Sunday, April 7, 2013 1:10:24 PM

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Um, I am surprised if it has been changed! To me, it sounds OK, like 'he drank of his wine or ate of his food' (although that 'of ' is 'from' so that is a poor analogy. But old-fashioned ?Think ... unless, as you say, the AE say not so muchThink
chromomancer
Posted: Sunday, April 7, 2013 3:16:09 PM
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My opinion:

He felt of his knee = he examined his knee using the sense of touch.
He felt his knee = he experienced the sensation of a knee (his own, presumably, in this case).

For example, "James felt Sally's knee pressing into his back" = the sensation of someone else's knee.

It's a bit difficult to say that "James felt of Sally's knee pressing..." is actually wrong though, but it would suggest conscious attention to it.

But "of" seems to be very variable in its usage by different people: "The kitten jumped off of the table" is completely wrong to me, but many people say it; conversely "The kitten jumped out the window" seems wrong to me (but many people would say it that way). I say, "The kitten jumped off the table" but "The kitten jumped out of the window".
leonAzul
Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013 11:29:21 AM

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I found a few more instances of "He felt of" in GoogleBooks.

One is from a collection of poems Heart Throbs first published in 1910 by Ira Beale Stuart. The title of the poem is "He Felt of the Fuzz on His Chin" (p 58), and it also serves as a refrain. I note that many of the poems are written in imitation of dialectal speech.

Another instance is more interesting. The following quotes come from a book first published in 1892 by George Bird Grinnell entitled Blackfoot Lodge Tales.

"All at once his hand touched something strange. He felt of it. It was a person's foot, and there was a moccasin on it." (p 13)

"Perhaps he thought that was a ghost feeling of him." (p 13)

The sample is too small to estimate how common this usage was, but the context indicates that chromomancer is right about how it was used.

Edited to add link to Google n-gram search:
http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=He+felt+of%2Che+felt+of%2CShe+felt+of%2Cshe+felt+of&year_start=1600&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=

It seems to have peaked in usage during the early 19th century and has been in decline since then.
Wobbles
Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013 11:52:18 AM
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Well, I think there are shades of meaning depending on context and how you interpret.

He felt of drink.

He felt drunk.

He felt of too much drink.

He felt as if he drank too much.

Joe
TheParser
Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013 12:47:03 PM
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Joined: 9/21/2012
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Thank you, everyone, for the latest replies. Especial thanks to leon for all the research.


James




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