Ohne seine Protagonistin blosszustellen, macht er nachvollziehbar, wie Elizabeths ausgeprägtes Pflichtgefühl öfter in totalitär anmutende Pflichterfüllung kippt. Ihre eingeschränkte Entscheidungsfreiheit scheint sie, was die Familie anbelangt, in vorauseilendem Gehorsam nahezu moralisch zwanghaft zu exorzieren.

Above is the text adapted from an NZZ review of the series 'The Crown'. I don't quite understand what 'ihre' and 'sie' refer to. Also, how is 'in vorauseilendem Gehorsam' related to 'exozieren' -- as in 'in anticipatory obedience' and to exorcise'.

Any explanation is appreciated!


"Ihre" and "sie" both refer to Elizabeth. Your translations of "in vorauseilendem Gehorsam" and "exorzieren" seem to fit.

Nevertheless, this sentence is a bit strange and sounds rather convoluted. Die eigene Entscheidungsfreiheit zu exorzieren is a rather strange figure of speech. (I can't really tell if there is something specific to Swiss German involved, but I'd guess that this is just the writer.)

To paraphrase a bit:

Elizabeth exorziert ihre Entscheidungsfreiheit, soweit es die Familie anbelangt. Sie tut dies in vorauseilendem Gehorsam und nahezu moralisch zwanghaft.

  • Thank you, @Lykanion. Once you have paraphrased it, it becomes so much easier to understand. Based on that, this is my understanding of the sentence: 'Soweit es die Familie betrifft, beseitige sie (Elizabeth) ihre Entscheidungsfreiheit. Sie tut dies ohne eine entsprechende Weisung und fast mit puritanischem Zwang'. Do you suppose I have got the gist of it? – Nick Feb 20 '18 at 12:05
  • "beseitigt", not "beseitige". There are subtle differences between "ohne entsprechende Weisung" and "in vorauseilendem Gehorsam", and I don't know if "moralisch" necessarily means "puritanisch". But overall, I'd say you got the general gist of it, yes :) – Lykanion Feb 21 '18 at 20:24

Ihre and sie obviously relates to Elisabeth, the female person we're talking about.

So what she does is "exorcise" (forcefully expel) her (already) restricted freedom of choice (the rests of her "free will") obsessively, that is, she's deliberately trading free will for obedience under her (assumed) duties.

A proper translation of this somewhat awkward sentence could probably look like (There's not a lot of hope that this scary sentence will sound any less strange once translated to English):

Apparently, she is exorcising her (already) limited free will related to her family in anticipatory obedience with nearly obsessive morality.

  • You have helped me clarify the relationship between 'exorzieren' and 'Entscheidungsfreiheit'. It makes more sense now that you re-write it as 'forcefully expel her already limited freedom of choice/ the rest of her free will'. I think your version of the English translation makes it easier to grasp the idea. Thank you @tofro. NZZ sometimes have these convoluted sentences, but I still find their pieces overall very well-written. To me, it is like the German version of the Economist, which I love to read. – Nick Feb 20 '18 at 12:17

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