In a message dated 07/11/2006 03:00:38 GMT Standard Time, NABOKV-L@HOLYCROSS.EDU writes:
"I know more than I can express in words, and the little I can express would not have been expressed, had I not known more."
I think I can understand just why Carolyn finds this an awkward sentence, and at first I thought that she must be right, and that this was a Freudian slip of VN's expressing some kind of unresolved ambivalence.
But actually it's perfectly simple.
He knows A.
Of this he can express only B in words.
B is less than A.
But he could or would not even have expressed B had he not known A, or at any rate something between B and A.
That is, he would not have expressed even B had he known only B.
He is saying that it is not only sufficient, but also necessary, for his expressing what he does express that he knows more than he does express.
Anthony Stadlen

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