3

受話器を置き、口ひげをなでながら、ダーズリー氏は考えた。
He put the receiver down and, while stroking his moustache, Mr Dursely thought.
———まさか、自分はなんて愚かなんだ
I'm being stupid

I'm really stuck on the line in bold.

So I guess I can translate まさか as "really". I think it intensifies the rest of the sentence. Is this right?

I think なんて in this case is "how..." so まさか、なんて愚かなんだ would be "Really! How stupid I am!"

So, if what I've got so far isn't gibberish, I don't know how to fit in the 自分は part. Literally I suppose it would be "Really! As for myself, how stupid I am!".

But, is 自分は really necessary? Why? How should I think about it?

  • Also, those three ーーー are supposed to be a single long line. I have no idea how to type that. – user3856370 May 9 at 20:38
  • 2
    As for this long dash, please read this question. – naruto May 10 at 2:21
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Translating this まさか as "Really!" is not wrong, but may be a bit too weak. I feel it's closer to "That can't be!", "Unbelievable!", "I never dreamed of it!", etc. It's not an intensifier but an interjection-like expression on its own. That is, it's not directly connected to the remaining part of the sentence.

自分は is necessary in this case. This is because まさか works as a comment about the surprising news he just heard. Without 自分は that explicitly switches the topic, the last half of the sentence would mean "How stupid it/he/she is!", referring to the news. Compare:

まさか、なんて愚かなんだ!
Unbelievable! How stupid! (←this refers to the news itself)

まさか、自分はなんて愚かなんだ!
Unbelievable! How stupid I am! (←he is disappointed at himself because he could not think of the possibility of what he heard)

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