This is the place to post questions and discussions on usage and style. The members of the Wordwizard Clubhouse will also often be able to help you to formulate that difficult letter.
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Post by navi » Sun Jan 10, 2021 5:38 am

The Price of Salt (later reissued as Carol) – the lesbian love story Highsmith published under the pen name Claire Morgan in 1952 – is curiously absent of these pessimisms. There are no violent crimes, no sociopathic protagonists.


https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/ ... SApp_Other

Is the first sentence grammatical and meaningful?
Does it mean what it is supposed to mean?

I think we need 'devoid' instead of 'absent'. Has 'absent' been used correctly here?


Re: absent

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:39 am

It's not a very common formulation -- probably because it sounds rather stilted nowadays -- but it is a Standard English expression. Other examples:

His mind was absent of conscious thoughts.

At this time of year, the park was absent of flowers.

As you suggest, "devoid of" is a valid alternative in your specimen sentence. So is "without".

Re: absent

Post by Phil White » Mon Jan 11, 2021 8:51 pm

I'm not entirely sure that I would call it "standard", but you certainly hear it and see it. A quick look at Google Ngram suggests that it quite suddenly became more popular in the 2000s. I can find very few examples of the usage prior to the 1990s.

For myself, I would not use it.
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

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