Here is the full context:

Maurice warned me that the regulations of Cambridge University would, however, prevent me from submitting a doctoral dissertation at the end of my first year. the university regulations did indeed say that a student could not submit a PhD thesis until three years of research had been undertaken. So I asked myself the question: should I get away to do something more interesting than the topic of the doctoral thesis which I had, for one reason or another, come to choose? And, thanks to the already completed chapters, couldn’t I go back to Calcutta and forget the doctoral research for two years? I wanted a break and, on top of that, I was missing India.

The first question: What does the writer mean by saying "get away to do something".

The second question: does he mean he should get away to 'work on a different topic of the doctoral thesis' OR he should get away to 'do something other than working on a thesis (e.g. finding another vocation)?

please paraphrase the marked sentence if necessary.

Thanks for helping.

the reference: At 23, Amartya Sen finished the work for his PhD in one year and then set up an economics department

  • "to get away" is a phrasal verb. It means to leave, escape, take a break, take a holiday/vacation, often with the additional sense of being a difficult thing to do given the current circumstances.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 21:53

2 Answers 2


"Get away" just means "leave". The infinitive "to do something" gives the purpose of leaving.

For the second part, you need to use your pragmatic knowledge. Doctoral theses have a single topic. A doctorate is a deep investigation into a single research idea. Using this knowledge, it can't mean "a different topic of the thesis", so it must mean "something other than working on the thesis" Moreover we know that at 23 he set up an Economics department - that is the "something other". You deduce this from your general knowledge, not from any grammar rule.


To get away [from somewhere] can mean to leave that place, often returning later. Amartya Sen was considering leaving Cambridge, it seems, for up to two years.

Get away (Cambridge Dictionary)

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