Actually the grave digger conforms, for the most part, to a third role – that of the proletarian…believed to possess an intuitive wisdom…which could yield insights denied the more intelligent and mature”

So "denied‘ in this case is passive? But why there isn't a "by" after it?


1 Answer 1


The proletarian possesses an intuitive wisdom. By implication this is given to him by a higher power (God, Nature, Fate ...).

The more intelligent person is not given that wisdom by the higher power, they have been denied the gift of wisdom. So here we are using deny is the sense of refuse to give. So we could say

insights denied to the more intelligent

However, the prepositions such as to are frequently omitted as they are deemed unnecessary. References such as this indicate that the use of unnecessary prepositions is undesirable especially in formal writing. This leads to the question: so which prepositions are unnecessary, and that I think is the nub of the original post here.

This Cut Unnecessary Prepositions, But Not These gives some nice examples. One such being:

We finished on December 2nd

Here on is needed as otherwise we might seem to say that we in some way finished the day itself. While, in:

You will work alongside of Martine today

The of is clearly superfluous.

As a rule of thumb: Is the sentence clear without the preposition? If so, omit the preposition. However reality is more complex, we would not omit of here:

Which type of wine do you prefer?

In your example, I would actually include the preposition

insights denied to the more intelligent

perhaps because there is a potential ambiguity, as reflected in the question, between

denied by the more intelligent


denied to the more intelligent

so we help the reader by including the preposition.

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