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I am confusing. I guess the author want to express a contrast by using ...not...but rather structure. To negate the forepart proposition, should not we have to insert a "not" to make the part negative?

Original:

She attracted attention not so much because of the qualities of her features but rather because of the naturalness and grace with which her expression moved.

With 'not' added:

She attracted attention not so much not because of the qualities of her features but rather because of the naturalness and grace with which her expression moved.

Source: it is a sentence quoted from much acclaimed Murakami Haruki's novel <1Q84>.

Here is the whole paragraph:

A detailed examination of her face from the front would reveal that the size and shape of her ears were significantly different, the left one much bigger and malformed. No one ever noticed this, however, because her hair nearly always covered her ears. Her lips formed a tight straight line, suggesting that she was not easily approachable. Also contributing to this impression were her small, narrow nose, somewhat protruding cheekbones, broad forehead, and long, straight eyebrows. All of these were arranged to sit in a pleasing oval shape, however, and while tastes differ, few would object to calling her a beautiful woman. The one problem with her face was its extreme paucity of expression. Her firmly closed lips only formed a smile when absolutely necessary. Her eyes had the cool, vigilant stare of a superior deck officer. Thanks to these features, no one ever had a vivid impression of her face. She attracted attention not so much because of the qualities of her features but rather because of the naturalness and grace with which her expression moved. In that sense, Aomame resembled an insect skilled at biological mimicry. What she most wanted was to blend in with her background by changing color and shape, to remain inconspicuous and not easily remembered. This was how she had protected herself since childhood.

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    I think you are misunderstanding the so much. The not before so much is the one that belongs to the not x but rather y structure. You can't put another one in. – user96060 May 26 at 11:34
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I agree with you. The given original sentence doesn't sound correct to me also. But the way you have corrected it, is also wrong.

If you are using 'not' before 'because' then you should remove the 'not' after 'attention' in "attention not so much not because of the....".

The correct sentence should be: "She attracted attention so much not because of the qualities of her features but rather because of the naturalness and grace with which her expression moved."

It may also be written as: "She attracted so much attention not because of the qualities of her features but rather because of the naturalness and grace with which her expression moved."

  • The reason one can not delete the "not" before "so" is by doing that the meaning of sentence would be wrong with the author's purport. – Quan Lee May 27 at 1:59
  • The reason one can not delete the "not" before "so" is by doing that the meaning of sentence would be wrong with the author's purport. The heroine here is a girl with an unobtrusive face. The author describe that before, then negate it with this sentence, and say the real reason why she does not attract others attention is the way of her expression rather than the features itself. At least this is my understanding. – Quan Lee May 27 at 2:06
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    @QuanLee No - the author is saying that she does attract attention, but because of the way her expression moves, not because of her features. This is what I meant above by saying that you'd misunderstood the so much. – user96060 May 27 at 2:12

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