“But, along with the street lamp, everything breathes deceit. It lies all the time, this Nevsky Prospect, but most of all at the time when night heaves its dense mass upon it and sets off the white and pale yellow walls of the houses, when the whole city turns into a rumbling and brilliance, myriads of carriages tumble from the bridges, postillions shout and bounce on their horses, and the devil himself lights the lamps only so as to show everything not as it really looks.” ― Nikolai Gogol, The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol.

How do you discern a grammatical role of this phrase? Along seems like a preposition. And if you discern it a preposition, maybe this phrase modifies everything. I may not get how it modifies everything.

  • It is a preposition phrase, but it's hard to pin down just what it modifies. I'm inclined to say it modifies the entire main clause. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 16 '15 at 2:37
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    "along with" is a two-part preposition meaning together with sb/sth. The sense of the sentence: Everything breathes deceit, even the street lamp. – rogermue Jun 16 '15 at 6:04
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    @saySay: Twice recently you have quoted an excerpt that begins with the word "But". Since this conjunction refers to a previous context, you should include the previous sentence at least. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 16 '15 at 11:49
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    I understand the bolded phrase to function as a segue. I would call it a "but-complement" :) – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 16 '15 at 12:15
  • @StoneyB I beg to differ a little. Along with is categorized as a quasi-coordinator - a cross between a coordinator and a preposition. So will it be right to call along with the street lamp just only a preposition phrase? It can also be viewed as a coordinator. The street-lamp + Everything else breaths deceit. – Man_From_India Oct 24 '15 at 12:11

I believe Rogermue is correct with the comment:

along with" is a two-part preposition meaning together with sb/sth. The sense of the sentence: Everything breathes deceit, even the street lamp.

To add to this, I'd say it doesn't actually modify the meaning of anything, it's just a hyperbolic statement. Obviously the street lamp isn't breathing or willfully telling lies. It's purely an added exaggeration to inflate to the extreme the intensity of the deceit.

You're already doing this by using "everything". The lamp pole is part of "everything.", but by specifically implicating even an inanimate object (which is absurd logically), you're just inflating what you've already expressed a little bit more.


[withdrawn my remark after having read the comments more carefully]

Actually, in the original Gogol uses a negative there, not easy to translate, indeed. Very roughly: "But, even if you put the lamp aside (variant: forget about the lamp), everything breathes with deceit (here)..."

Далее, ради бога, далее от фонаря! и скорее, сколько можно скорее, проходите мимо. Это счастие еще, если отделаетесь тем, что он зальет щегольской сюртук ваш вонючим своим маслом. Но и кроме фонаря, все дышит обманом. Он лжет во всякое время, этот Невский проспект, но более всего тогда, когда ночь сгущенною массою наляжет на него и отделит белые и палевые стены домов, когда весь город превратится в гром и блеск, мириады карет валятся с мостов, форейторы кричат и прыгают на лошадях и когда сам демон зажигает лампы для того только, чтобы показать все не в настоящем виде.

(Source: Классика.ру)

  • An accurate translation, and equally as evocative as the original Russian, is: But forget the streetlamp; everything here breathes with deceit ... – P. E. Dant Aug 20 '16 at 7:08
  • Yes, very good. Interestingly, 'here' is not present and not needed in the Russian sentence but absolutely necessary in the translation... – tum_ Aug 20 '16 at 7:19
  • I should have said: But forget the lantern; everything here breathes with deceit ... This is important, because Gogol is describing the odor of burning kerosene. In English, we might also say But never mind the lantern... – P. E. Dant Aug 20 '16 at 17:28
  • There is no limit in the search of perfection ':) And eventually you come to "no way to translate this , learn the language..." (and get banned for the chat) :) – tum_ Aug 21 '16 at 4:01

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