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If the bold part is removed, the sentence is ok. But as it is, it sounds weird. Could you help me fugure out the syntax of it? What is "little"? What does "at all" have to do with anything? Fahrenheit 451

He walked toward the corner, thinking little at all about nothing in particular.

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    It's a deliberate tautology, maybe for emphasis, maybe for comic effect. There's no hidden meaning.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 21:55
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    @Astralbee is "little" an adverbial to "thinking", and "at all" adverbial to "little"? Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 22:58
  • That's right. See: at all.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 23:22

1 Answer 1

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"little at all" means "not very much".

So, not only is he not thinking very much in absolute terms, what little thinking he is doing isn't very specific or focused.

It's compact and it has a nice rhythm.

It could be rephrased for slightly different stylistic effect as:

He wasn't thinking very hard. And he spent that slight amount of thought on vague and trivial purposes.

Or

His thoughts were shallow and and their object mundane.

It wouldn't mean exactly the same thing if you just omitted 'little at all", and it wouldn't feel as judgemental and humorous, which is what the author likely intends.

It may feel weird to you because people don't usually talk that way. But writers write that way all the time, and it is very good writing.

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