moments only of pretended torpor, but of real torment

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siares

Senior Member
Slovak
'Why then, my lord, I am much afraid you will conclude, when you see him in one of those reveries, from the total vacancy of his air, that he is thinking of nothing. But pray permit me to take his part. Those apparent cogitations, to which he is so much addicted, are moments only of pretended torpor, but of real torment, devoted, not as they appear, to supine insipidity, but to painful secret labour how next he may call himself into notice.
Fanny Burney, Camilla Or a Picture of Youth

Hi all,
I need some help with understanding the sentence, please.
I don't see how only and but are connected here. Throughout the novel 'but' always seems to be used in a sense 'except for', but here? Is the 'only' connected to 'pretended' rather than 'moments'?
Thank you.
 
  • siares

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Thanks se16teddy. How strange use of but!
    Is the 'only' placed awkwardly, or does it feel natural?
    I would have liked to see it closer to 'pretended', what do you think?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I think you're right that the "only" goes with "pretended", siares. It would have been clearer as " moments of only pretended torpor";).

    PS Then the author would have had to omit the "of" before "real"....
     

    siares

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Thank you very much Loob. It helps to re-read the slightly altered sentence aloud with the 'only' moved.
    Just thinking on factors which contributed to making it hard to understand, it is
    - but used as it is
    - position of only
    - a recent thread on 'supine' which I had read before this paragraph where (in thread) it has been said it sounded medical (nowadays)
     
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