Amaranta would sigh, laugh, and dream of a second homeland of handsome men and beautiful women who spoke a childlike language, with ancient cities of whose past grandeur only the cats among the rubble remained. (One Hundred Years of Solitude, tr. by Gregory Rabassa)

The preposition phrase seems like having a small clause [or a verbless clause]. But it’s not easy to identify which is the subject and which is the predicate. And I wonder why ‘of’ is there –– when there isn’t ‘of’, can’t the phrase make sense?
([(1) with ancient cities][(2) of whose past grandeur][(3) only the cats among the rubble remained]: The first bracket seems to be modified by relative clause (2+3). (2) is the subject and (4) the predicate.)


This is a wh- relative clause.

The entire predicate of the underlying sentence is remained.

The prepositional phrase of their past grandeur is a constituent of the only PART of WHOLE construction which constitutes the subject. Compare

Only part          of the whole            remained.
Only three          of the original ten      remained.
Only the cats in the rubble of their past grandeur remained.

But placing the of WHOLE piece there is ambiguous - it looks as if it modifies rubble; and it is a "heavy" phrase; so we ordinarily move that to the beginning or the end of the sentence, leaving the head of the subject as close as possible to the verb:

Only the cats in the rubble remained of their past grandeur.
Of their past grandeur only the cats in the rubble remained.

To accommodate the relative clause, we employ the second version, with of their at the front, and replace their with whose:

...of whose past grandeur only the cats in the rubble remained.

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