In Stefan Zweig's Schachnovelle, I found this:

Minuten lag ich schon wach und genoß noch diese schwere Dumpfheit, dies laue Liegen mit wollüstig betäubten Sinnen.

Is this correct? Shouldn't it be "dieses" instead of "dies"?


"Dies" is a shortened version of "dieses" in this case. Both technically works but "dies" is used here to enhance the flow of the sentence although "dieses" would be perceived to be more adequate. In modern colloquial German "dies" wouldn't be used in this sentence.

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    Dieses isn’t more adequate. They are both perfectly fine, with dies going extinct in spoken language, but staying very much alive in writing... – Ludi Jul 7 '18 at 20:56
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    Maybe adequate was not the right word to convey what I meant. "Dieses" is more common and might be conceived to be more "complete" for the reader. They are both possible. – user4308 Jul 7 '18 at 21:03

Jankas comment and user4308's answer are both correct: »Dies« is a shortened form of »dieses«.

But also worth mentioning:

This book was written 80 years ago. German has changed a little bit in this periods of time, like any living language. (Watch a movie from 1940 in your own native language and compare its language with that of a movie from after 2010.) The changes are small and subtile, but they exist. You can her them if you listen to them.

The less frequent usage of »dies« instead of »dieses« is one of those many tiny changes.

Another point: The language Stefan Zweig used was an elaborated and sophisticated German. Before the invention of computers it was hard work to re-write a bad sentence. So good authors spent lots of time thinking over the best way to write a sentence. Some of them was know to think about single sentences for days before they wrote them down. (Even some modern authors work this way.) The result is a kind of written speech, that is very elaborated and high sophisticated.

Compared with every day speech the language in novels often seem like beautiful handcrafted works of art compared to cheap bulk freight.

And this little »dies« instead of »dieses« is one of the results of the creative process of a skilled author. It brings some color and music into literature.

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  • Your point about a long time of preparations and work habits is a very import one. People tend to forget this. I may add another point: When the first print returned to the author for proof reading, there were limits to the changes he could make. It's easier, cheaper and safer to add a new sentence instead of rearranging and changing the existing sentences. - For reasons, I really would like to know if the sentence in question was part of the first version or if it was added later. – Earl Dumarest Jul 8 '18 at 10:47

Though »dies« and »dieses« share their meaning, they cannot be used interchangeably, since there's at least one fixed phrase where »dieses« would be out of place.

»Was machst du denn so?«
»Dies und das.«


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  • »Dieses und jenes.« – Bernd Wilke πφ Jul 10 '18 at 12:11
  • @BerndWilkeπφ: »dieses und jenes« and »dies und jenes« are both fixed phrases, the second »es« is optional => source – Pollitzer Jul 10 '18 at 12:40

The problem with this sentence is that its structure and word choice is overly poetic. It's still a valid sentence but Stefan Zweig is bending the rules to his purpose. Even as a native German speaker I tripped over "dies laue Liegen" because it's not immediately clear to what it relates to, therefore it sounds somehow right and somehow wrong. A simple change could fix that:

Minuten lag ich schon wach und genoß noch diese schwere Dumpfheit**:** dies laue Liegen mit wollüstig betäubten Sinnen.

Now the problem is partly solved: "Dies laue Liegen" relates to the complete first part of the sentence and doesn't sound that wrong anymore.

My personal opinion: It's an ugly bad-made sentence.

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    Was für ein Unsinn. (1) Der Satz hat kein Problem. (2) Wie kann Poesie overly poetic sein? (3) Welche Regel soll Zweig gebogen haben, wenn der Satz doch vollkommen regelkonform ist? (4) Jedem Muttersprachler wird sofort klar, dass dies sich nur aufs laue Liegen beziehen kann. (5) Und wer einen schönen Satz wie diesen als ugly bad-made bezeichnet, der hat, mit Verlaub, kein Gefühl für die Schönheit von Sprache. – Björn Friedrich Jul 8 '18 at 6:41
  • Ich denke, (2) Poesie kann zu poetisch sein, wenn es sich um Prosa handelt ("laue Liegen", "wollüstig betäubt"). (3) Stefan Zweig hat die Spache gebeugt, nicht gebrochen. (4) Ja, da habe ich mich unklar ausgedrückt. (5) Dieser Meinung kann man sein. Oder auch nicht. – Earl Dumarest Jul 8 '18 at 9:49

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