Deixou vs. Deixara (what's the difference?)

I’m reading a book and the phrase “Robinson deixara em York a mulher e dois filhos…”

Why not use the past tense there–“deixou”? I know that one means “had left” and the other means “left”, but what’s the subtle difference in meaning, and when/why would you use one over the other? I couldn’t find this form in your verb conjugations section. Is it just a literary form?

Good question, @denise. Deixara is a verb conjugation from the Pretérito Mais-que-perfeito (Pluperfect/Past Perfect), which refers to a past before the past. I’ve never heard anyone use this tense in conversation, be it formal or informal, but it’s a staple of literary writing.

In your book, my guess is that the narration is already in the past tense per se (at least on that bit), but that event with Robinson’s wife and kids predates the narration time.

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Thank so so much for a reply that makes sense!

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