all six boys bore a strong cousin-german resemblance

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enkidu68

Senior Member
turkish
Hi folks, this is cited from Wellingborough Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)
Context: Melville is talking about 2 sets of triples.
Quebstion: What I don’t understand is if they have fraternal likeness, why did he write “but though” ? I would expect a negative sentence to come after this.

They were ten years old. Each three of these six cousins were as like as the mutually reflected figures in a kaleidoscope; and like the forms seen in a kaleidoscope, together, as well as separately, they seemed to form a complete figure. But, though besides this fraternal likeness, all six boys bore a strong cousin-german resemblance to each other; yet, the O'Briens were in disposition quite the reverse of the O'Regans.
 
  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    It is a convoluted sentence (typical of Melville), but it does turn out to be negative in the end. Simplified, it says:

    Although each set of triplets looked like brothers, and all six of the boys had a 'cousin-german' resemblance, the O'Brien triplets and the O'Regan triplets had opposite personalities.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    OED:
    germane cousin/german-cousin/cousin-german/cousin germane:


    1. germane cousin: a child of a full brother or sister of either parent of the person in question; a first cousin; = cousin-german n. 1 (the more usual form).

    1893 ‘M. Gray’ Innocent Impostor iv. 46 ‘They were cousins,’ he observed briefly, at the end. ‘German cousins,’ corrected Cissy. ‘German cousins or cousins german, they were first cousins,’ returned Auriol.
    2000 C. Adams Taste for Comfort & Status iii. 90 Marie de Sérézac signed the contract with the advice and ‘authority’ of her mother; her grandmother, Delphine Filhol..and her germane cousins.
     

    enkidu68

    Senior Member
    turkish
    I came accross this sentence again in reviewing, so don't you think that the second sentence (and all six of the boys had a 'cousin-german' resemblance, ) is a kind of redundancy? Because if they resembled each other like brothers, it is not necessary to stress this second resemblance.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I came accross this sentence again in reviewing, so don't you think that the second sentence (and all six of the boys had a 'cousin-german' resemblance, ) is a kind of redundancy? Because if they resembled each other like brothers, it is not necessary to stress this second resemblance.
    The "cousin-german" element concerns to likeness of one set of triplets to the other set of triplets. The "fraternal likeness" only existed within each set of triplets, the previous sentence beginning "each three".
     
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