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This scar was the only hint of Harry’s very mysterious past, of the reason he had been left on the Dursleys’ doorstep eleven years before. [The situation is that Harry, the main character of this novel, has a scar on his forehead that makes him a special wizard because it is to do with Harry's very mysterious past and because of the past event, he lost his parents and got the scar, so he lives with the Dursley family.]

To me, "of the reason...before" seems to have been used as a non-essential prepositional phrase, so I think "of the reason..before" is connected to "Harry's very mysterious past". Though, there were some native English speakers who answered me that it's connected to "the only hint", but I don't think the answer is right, because the interpretation doesn't sound natural if it's really connected to "the only hint". I want to know to what the prepositional phrase is connected.

(And as a similar structure, ‎"...using fiction as a mirror image of the past, of the historical time", here, "of the historical time" seems to be the non-essentical prepositional phrase connected to "the past", not "a mirror image".)

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    No, it's not a "non-essential prepositional phrase". It's a restatement / alternative phrasing / repetition for a preceding text element (hint of Harry’s very mysterious past = reason he had been left on the Dursleys’ doorstep eleven years before). There's an ancient Greek grammatical term for it, but I don't know the actual word (and not knowing it has never done me any harm as regards my command of English! :) – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 16 '19 at 17:40
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    @FumbleFingers I think the sentence is meant to be read like this: This scar was the only hint of Harry’s very mysterious past and [the only hint] of the reason he had been left on the Dursleys’ doorstep eleven years before. Am I on the money or did I screw up? – AIQ Sep 16 '19 at 19:09
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    It's ambiguous. Either what follows the comma is acting in apposition to what comes before it or there is an assumed (but missing) and. Which it is depends entirely on how you interpret it. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Sep 17 '19 at 4:20
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    @AIQ: I think you're exactly right! I was a bit "loose" in saying precisely what words were being "restated" by what - but as your comment makes clear, it the text after each instance of the word of. Of course, we could also say that the "deleted repetition" of the second statement isn't just [the only hint] it's actually the entirety of [This scar was the only hint of] the reason he had been left on the Dursleys’ doorstep eleven years before. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 17 '19 at 14:01
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    @SinK: I'm not sure I understand exactly what you think, but I think you must be mistaken - because syntactically, the writer had no choice whatsoever about whether to include that comma. The comma must be present when collapsing two consecutive statements into one like this. It reflects the fact that in real spoken language there must be a pause when the first statement ends (after past) before starting the second statement (regardless of whether it features "deleted" elements from the preceding statement or not). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 17 '19 at 14:07
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Original: This scar was the only hint of Harry’s very mysterious past, of the reason he had been left on the Dursleys’ doorstep eleven years before.

I am going to write down what I understand from this.

Harry's scar signified two things: (a) his very mysterious past and (b) the reason he had been left on the doorstep eleven years before.

The scar was the only thing that was a hint of both (a) and (b).

I believe the sentence could have been much easier to follow or understand if some words were not omitted.

It was easy for me to follow when I read it like this:

  1. This scar was the only hint of Harry’s very mysterious past and [ the only hint ] of the reason he had been left on the Dursleys’ doorstep eleven years before.

As FumbleFinger commented, the deleted part could also be "and [this scar was the only hint]".

Using "both" in there would read like this:

  1. This scar was the only hint of both Harry’s very mysterious past and the reason he had been left on the Dursleys’ doorstep eleven years before.

A very basic construction would read like this:

  1. This scar was the only hint of Harry’s very mysterious past. The scar was a hint of the reason he had been left on the Dursleys’ doorstep eleven years before.

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