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The following is a passage in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I am wondering what the boldfaced "This" refers to.

Before, dark and opaque bodies had surrounded me, impervious to my touch or sight; but I now found that I could wander on at liberty, with no obstacles which I could not either surmount or avoid. The light became more and more oppressive to me, and the heat wearying me as I walked, I sought a place where I could receive shade. This was the forest near Ingolstadt; and here I lay by the side of a brook resting from my fatigue, until I felt tormented by hunger and thirst. This roused me from my nearly dormant state, and I ate some berries which I found hanging on the trees or lying on the ground. I slaked my thirst at the brook, and then lying down, was overcome by sleep.

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  • The "place where I could receive shade".
    – tgdavies
    Apr 10, 2023 at 1:51
  • @tgdavies Thank you. That was my first thought too. However, is this use of "this" acceptable in contemporary English? Consider the following passage, modeled on Shelley's:
    – Apollyon
    Apr 10, 2023 at 1:55
  • At that time, I was in a strange place. As I was hungry, I was looking for an eatery. This was near an interstate highway and here I ate a jumbo burger and an order of French fries. I stayed there until I was refreshed and energized.
    – Apollyon
    Apr 10, 2023 at 1:55
  • It will be interesting to see what people with a more formal understanding of the English language have to say, but to me this usage is absolutely acceptable in contemporary English -- written English at any rate. But I think the subject of "this" should be a bit more abstract. "I looked for a way to satisfy my hunger. This was an eatery just off the interstate". When Shelley uses it, it doesn't seem flowery, in fact it's very economical, but in "modern" writing I suppose it fits less well. I'd be tempted to say "This took the form of an eatery..." which I think is bad writing.
    – tgdavies
    Apr 10, 2023 at 2:26
  • On reflection, I prefer "...satisfy my hunger. In an eatery just off the interstate, I..." Simpler.
    – tgdavies
    Apr 10, 2023 at 3:07

1 Answer 1

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The "This" in the quotation refers to the "place where I could receive shade".

Think of it as "I wanted a place where I could receive shade" and "The place where I could receive shade was the forest near Ingolstadt."

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