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Redundancy / Literature

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  • The Legend of Rah and the Muggles brings us memorable quotes like "Their cries for help went unrecognized as they rang out with piercing screams for help.".
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events:
    • Frequently used for humour in the narration throughout the series, mostly as part of the "defining words" and "translate Sunny's speech" gags:
      But even so, the three children were eager to leave the Anxious Clown, and not just because the garish restaurant - the word "garish" here means "filled with balloons, neon lights, and obnoxious waiters" - was filled with balloons, neon lights, and obnoxious waiters.
    • In the ninth book, one chapter starts out with a description of deja vu. The second page of the chapter is almost exactly the same as the first page (including the picture and the chapter heading). Several chapters later, the exact same passage describing deja vu is repeated again.
    • In The Grim Grotto, Lemony Snicket attempts to put the reader to sleep by giving a very repetitive description of evaporation.
    • He found himself reading the same sentence over and over. He found himself reading the same sentence over and over. He found himself reading the same sentence over and over.
    • Never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever (repeat until the word stops looking like a word), mess with electricity. Unless you're Violet Baudelaire.
  • Lord of the Rings:
    "Praise them with great praise!"
    • The language of the Ents is, by Tolkien's own description, very repetitive. They also tend to use other languages in their own fashion, like stringing Elvish words together: eg. "Taurelilómëa-tumbalemorna Tumbaletaurëa Lómeanor", which means "Forestmanyshadowed-deepvalleyblack Deepvalleyforested Gloomyland".
    • Sometimes a translation of someone's name is put after their name, like "Legolas Greenleaf" or "Théoden King." Less redundant if you don't know it's a translation.
  • A Christmas Carol, because just "carol" alone means "a Christmas song".
  • Inheritance Cycle
    "Sorry", Brom apologized
    The 'Az Ragni' means, 'The River.' It has never once been called anything but 'The Az Ragni'.
  • Report on Probability A by Brian W. Aldiss appears to be based almost exclusively on this trope, to the point of unreadability. The description in Wikipedia says: "The bulk of the book is the Report, describing in minute, obsessive and often repetitive detail, three characters G, S, and C as they secretly watch a house, each from a separate outbuilding with peripheral views of the house's windows, catching occasional glimpses of its occupant, Mrs Mary. As the Report is being read by a character called "Domoladossa'", he is secretly being observed from other universes, and these observers in their turn are being observed, all of them engaged in futile speculation about the exact nature of Probability A, and the exact meaning of the Victorian painting, The Hireling Shepherd (by Pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt..." (and so on)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Hey, have you any idea what these strange symbols are?" "I think they're just strange symbols of some kind," said Zaphod, hardly glancing back.
    • Not to mention the delightful "Every time you try to operate one of these weird black controls, which are labeled in black on a black background, a little black light lights up black to let you know you've done it," in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
    • From So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish: "Beyond what used to be known as the Limitless Lightfields of Flanux until the Grey Binding Fiefdoms of Saxaquine were discovered lying behind them, lie the Grey Binding Fiefdoms of Saxaquine."
    • In Mostly Harmless: "Anything that happens, happens. Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen. Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again. It doesn't necessarily do it in chronological order, though."
  • In the Animorphs book The Ellimist Chronicles, when Ellimist realizes Aguella's pheromoning at him, and wonders why him: "Aguella could have any male she wanted. She was beautiful, well formed, sturdy, intelligent, funny, beautiful, very beautiful. That was several too many 'beautifuls', I said to myself."
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
      While he drove, Uncle Vernon complained to Aunt Petunia. He liked to complain about things: people at work, Harry, the council, Harry, the bank and Harry were just a few of his favourite subjects. This morning, it was motorbikes.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry thinks to himself that his return to Hogwarts that year has been full of unexpected surprises. He doesn't elaborate on what other kind of surprises there are.
    • Dumbledore's birthplace, mentioned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. If you look at the use of Mould/Mold and Wold as place names, you realise Mould-on-the-Wold roughly means "Hill-on-the-Hill."
      • Possibly inspired by the real Torpenhow Hill, which is to say Hill-hill-hill Hill.
  • The Bible. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Gen 1:27" (Why do you think Monty Python did this in the Holy Hand Grenade scene?)
    • Also in Genesis 10:8-9 (NIV) "Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, 'Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.'" Other versions are also redundant, just not as blatantly so.
      • Another Genesis example, this time from as early as 1:11 where God is creating the very Earth itself. In the passage in question, God said "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth" before performing the described act.
      • Later scholars found justifications for at least some of these. In one tradition, Genesis 22:2, "Take your son, your only son (often translated as "favored one"), whom you love, Isaac..." was necessary because Abraham loved both of his sons.
    • This is an exceptionally common style of writing in the Bible, known in Hebrew poetry as 'tikbolet' or parallels. The redundancy is used as a poetic device in the original.
    • The Book of Mormon is just as bad: 1 Nephi 9:2: "... for the plates upon which I make a full account of my people I have given the name of Nephi; wherefore, they are called the plates of Nephi, after mine own name; and these plates also are called the plates of Nephi."
    • The Bible just in general has a lot of stuff along the lines of: "And God told them to go and do (insert action here). And so they went and did (insert action here). And God was pleased that they had done (insert action here). And so God told the people 'I am pleased that you have done (insert action here).'"
    • Some passages seem more redundant than they are simply because of how they're translated. Take the case of the death of Achan. "And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they stoned them with stones." The Hebrew, while not removing the redundancy, kicks it back a notch, using two different words for the action of stoning: vayir'g'mu vs. vayis'q'lu. Not to mention that the word for the stones themselves (even (sing.); avanim (pl.)) look almost nothing like either of them.
    • Proverbs 16:22 "Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools."
    • Revelation 14:2 "...and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps."
    • The Haggadah, the prayerbook used at the Jewish holiday of Passover, can get pretty bad at points. The first of these three quotes are also part of a rather lengthy segment alternating between short paragraphs and long paragraphs that reiterate each sentence of the short paragraph with a longer explanation, which also might qualify, and all come from the same paragraph.
      And we cried unto the Eternal, the God of our fathers: as it is said, and it came to pass, after some time, that the king of Egypt died, and the children of Israel sighed in consequence of the bondage, and they cried, and their complaint went up to God, in consequence of the bondage.

      And He saw our affliction: this denotes the separation from their wives, as it is said, and God saw the children of Israel, and God had knowledge of their affliction.

      And our oppression: this denotes the severity employed, as it is said, And I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

  • Dave Barry:
    • Dave Barry Turns 50 has a list of "10 Signs That You Might Be Losing It." Number 1: "You tend to forget things." Number 6: "You tend to forget things." Number 10: "You tend to forget things."
    • "The Columnist's Caper": "I have written a suspense novel. It has everything. Sex. Violence. Sex. Death. Russians. Dead Russians."
    • Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs includes lists sent in by a long-time professional musician of the ten most hated requested songs of Top 40 bands and wedding bands. The title "Stairway to Heaven" is listed 5 times in the former (and "Proud Mary" is listed twice), and "New York, New York" is listed 4 times in the latter (including "New York, New York, and I'm the Bride's Father and I Have Your Check Right Here in my Hand So You Better Play It, Dammit").
    • Dave Barry Slept Here at one point refers to the Soviet Union "simply" as the "Union of the Society of Socialistic Soviet Union Communist Russians."
  • Due to being a town in a contested area between two cultures with very different languages, the river crossing of Bengloarafurd Ford in the Dragaera universe has a name that roughly translates to "Ford ford ford ford".
  • From the So Bad, It's Good oeuvre of the Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe's Extruded Book Products, in A 1000 Years On (Writing as John E. Muller):
    Everywhere was dark, dark darkness. Blackness. Black. Black blackness.
    • Most of Fanthorpe's So Bad, It's Good work for Badger Books, in fact. He was being paid by the word, after all. Hence the popular UK SF scene Light Bulb Joke: "How many Fanthorpe pseudonyms does it take to change a lightbulb, to replace it, to reinstate it, to substitute for it, to swap it, to exchange it, to renew it, to put another in its stead, to ..."
    • The most famous Fanthorpian example is probably Chapter 5 of March of the Robots, which, when all the redundancy has been removed, just says "A saucer-shaped ship landed silently, while the people were still asleep. Mysterious robots marched out of it, and a force-field appeared around it."
    "Metal things. Metal things that could think. Thinking metal things."
  • An erotic novel called "Pleasure 2035", as well as having some truly... unusual sex scenes, has this line.
    She could tell the real man in front of her wanted her, because he told her so. "I want you," he whispered.
  • In Discworld, a tourist misreads his Agatean-to-Morporkian translation guide, leading to such statements as:
    Twoflower: I wish for an accommodation, a room, lodgings, the lodging house, full board, are your rooms clean, a room with a view, what is your rate for one night?
    • and
    Twoflower: Fooood. Yes. Cutlet, hash, chop, stew, ragout, fricassee, mince, collops, souffle, dumpling, blancmange, sorbet, gruel, sausage, not to have a sausage, beans, without a bean, kickshaws, jelly, jam. Giblets.
    Innkeeper: All that?
    • Also used to parody buzzwords in self-workplace-help-empowerment-etc. books with How to Dynamically Manage People for Dynamic Results in a Caring Empowering Way in Quite a Short Time Dynamically, which Ponder Stibbons assumed (in light of the redundancy) had been stitched together from quite a few books on the subject.
    • In Ankh-Morpork, there's a bridge called Pons Bridge, pons being Latin for... bridge. (nom. sing.)
    • Small Gods, on the topic of anchorites:
    They went out into the desert but did not come back, preferring a hermit's life of dirt and hardship and dirt and holy contemplation and dirt.
    • And from the same novel, on the holy book Vorbis was going to write:
    There would be talk of holy wars and blood and crusades and blood and piety and blood.
    troll's with sticks
    All sorts of dragons
    Mrs Cake
    Huje green things with teeth
    Any kinds of black dogs with orange eyebrows
    Rains of spaniel's
    Mrs Cake
  • From Twilight, Book the First: "Traitor tears were there, betraying me."
    • Also, "Aro started to laugh. "Ha ha ha", he chuckled." (From Twilight, Book the Second.)
    • In the third book Bella tells us that vampires are part of a "clandestine world full of myths and monsters that existed secretly."
    • At some point mentions Edward's "Relaxed calm".
    • Not to mention that Jacob "frowned unhappily".
    • As well as this masterful line:
    "Yes," I agreed.
  • In the Women of the Otherworld novel Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, there is this line, which is also in another of Kelley Armstrong's works, namely Bitten, which is first in the series Women Of The Otherworld, by Kelley Armstrong.
    Antonio lifted a hand and started counting off reasons on his fingers. "One, he used to be Pack so he knows how dangerous this kind of killing on our territory is, that we can't—and won't—leave town. Two, he hates Clay. Three, he hates Jeremy. Four, he hates all of us—with the exception of our dear Elena, who, conveniently, wasn't at Stonehaven to be affected by the mess, which I'm sure Daniel knew. Five, he really hates Clay. Six—oh, wait, other hand—six, he's a murderous cannibalizing bastard. Seven, did I mention he chose to strike when Elena wasn't around? Eight, if he caused enough havoc, Elena might be in the market for a new partner. Nine, he really, really, REALLY hates Clay. Ten, he's sworn undying revenge against the entire Pack, particularly those two members who happen to be currently living at Stonehaven. I'm out of fingers here, buddy. How many more reasons do you need?"
  • The Darkest Road, by Guy Gavriel Kay.
    "Forgive me," he said. "I am a fool and a fool and a fool."
    "At least two of those," Torc agreed gravely.
    • Not to mention earlier, in The Summer Tree: "Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain." Kay repeats words or phrases for dramatic effect many times during this trilogy, sometimes devastatingly well (i.e. "And this was the X night of Pwyll the Stranger on the Summer Tree") - buuuuuut on the other hand, sometimes he overdoes it a bit.
  • Hank the Cowdog series. "Dust and hay and flakes of dried manure swirled through the air, filling my eyes and nose and mouth with dust and hay and flakes of dried manure that swirled through the air."
  • A dead serious variant from A Game of Thrones:
    All that Syrio Forel had taught her went racing through her head. Swift as a deer. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Quick as a snake. Calm as still water. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Strong as a bear. Fierce as a wolverine. Fear cuts deeper than swords. The man who fears losing has already lost. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Fear cuts deeper than swords. Fear cuts deeper than swords.
  • This was practically Gertrude Stein's signature style:
    They were quite regularly gay there, Helen Furr and Georgine Skeene, they were regularly gay there where they were gay. They were very regularly gay. To be regularly gay was to do every day the gay thing that they did every day. To be regularly gay was to end every day at the same time after they had been regularly gay. They were regularly gay. They were gay everyday. They ended every day in the same way, at the same time, and they had been everyday quite regularly gay.
    • How could you forget her most famous line:
    • Also "To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write". For some strange reason this never got popular.
    • And Ernest Hemingway retorted: "A bitch is a bitch is a bitch".
  • From This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself:
    ...other signs of inexcusably sloppy grammar like unneeded superfluous redundancies...
  • Quite a few every book by Gary Paulsen will repeat itself to no end.
  • In the Star Wars novel Death Star, Memah Roothes, the new cantina owner, and her bouncer are required to do two physical exam sessions. Memah cites this trope as the reason they have to.
    • That may not have been a reference—the Galactic Empire had an actual Department of Redundancy Department. Nobody seems quite sure whether it actually had a serious job, or Palpatine was feeling whimsical when he created it, so different authors will treat it differently.
  • In Infinite Jest, one of the locations is a drug and alcohol addiction recovery house called Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery Housenote , where people go to recover from drug and alcohol addictions in the drug and alcohol recovery house. House.
  • The Catcher in the Rye: Holden does this frequently, so much that eventually you'll do it too. You will, you really will.
  • Fallen by Thomas Sniegowski is absolutely ridiculous with this. One example, "I don't know" he said uncertainly. Made worse by the fact that he thanks the 'termineditor' in his foreword. One shudders to think what the book was like before she got to it.
  • In the first section of 1985, Anthony Burgess refers, apparently without sarcasm, to "the gay homosexuals."
    • Possibly justified, as "gay" also means "happy" or "jolly", and was used quite regularly in that context in the '70s when the book was written.
  • There is an R. L. Stine book in the Fear Street series called Final Grade. The blurb on the back of the book reads "Lily is drawn into a nightmare she can't begin to control. Will her final grade be her last?" Um.. yes?
  • Because ancient tales were oral, many of the classics reuse the same descriptions over and over to help the story teller out. When listening to or reading the Iliad, by the third ox sacrifice you are going "yes yes, we know how the ox is sacrificed and burnt and made to smell sweet, get on with the story."
  • Averted in Nordic sagas "Seven Viking Romances". Heroes will boast about what they will do, before fulfilling it—bigger boast, bigger kudos. To avoid the skald having to repeat his story telling there will be lines like "Eric said he would do x, y and z. So that's what he did."
  • In one version of Baba Yaga:
    Nearly scared to death from fear, they lay there, afraid to talk, afraid even to breathe.
  • In Around the World in 80 Days, Passepartout is described more than once as "a Parisian of Paris". As opposed to what, exactly? (Besides, he hasn't even lived in Paris for five years.)
  • This is a problem with many translations of the Popol Vuh, since the original poetry relies on redundancy and parallelism as a poetic tool. However, this translates very badly to modern day prose, leading to sections such as:
    "The fourth trial is named the Bat House, for there are none but bats inside. In this house they squeak. They shriek as they fly about in the house, for they are captive bats and cannot come out."
  • When Dorothy Parker reviewed a book that described the sun as "the round orb of the morning", she commented that this was "a nice change from all those square orbs we've been seeing lately."
  • In Winnie-the-Pooh, there's a "box of paints to paint things with".
  • The nursery rhyme "The Grand Old Duke Of York":
    Oh, the grand old duke of York
    He had ten thousand men
    He marched them up to the top of the hill
    And he marched them down again.
    And when they were up, they were up,
    And when they were down, they were down,
    And when they were only halfway up they were neither up nor down.
    • This is commonly considered to refer to an actual campaign during the Napoleonic Wars, in which Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (17631827), the second son of George III, led an army around Belgium and the Netherlands to no particular effect, until he was defeated by the French at the Battle of Tourcoing in 1794.
  • In Tour of the Merrimack, one Marine motto is, "Redundancy is good. Redundancy is good. Redundancy is good."
  • Hans Christian Andersen's The Emperor's Nightingale has a lovely (slightly insensitive especially in the English translation) example in its opening lines:
    In China, you know, the emperor is a Chinese, and all those about him are Chinamen also.
  • At one point in True Grit:
    It was a cashier's check for $2,750 drawn on the Grangers Trust Co. of Topeka, Kansas, to a man named Marshall Purvis. I said, "This is a cashier's check for $2,750 drawn on the Grangers Trust Co. of Topeka, Kansas, to a man named Marshall Purvis."
  • Jeeves and Wooster:
    • A pretty common gag in the narration usually runs something like this:
    [Thought]. 'Jeeves,' I said, '[repeat thought].'
    • In "Jeeves Takes Charge", Bertie is referred to as a "spineless invertebrate".
    • "Jeeves and the Yule-tide Spirit":
    'Touching on that matter we were touching on, Jeeves ...'
    • Thank You, Jeeves:
    'Well, damn it, whereabouts in the garden did whoever merely informed you that he was in the garden merely inform you that he was?'
  • Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow: "In an age of madness, to expect to be untouched by madness is a form of madness. But the pursuit of sanity can be a form of madness, too."
  • "He had six small wheels, a short stumpy funnel, a short stumpy boiler and a short stumpy dome."
  • Sonic the Hedgehog in Robotnik's Laboratory; A huge ship lumbered across the sky. It was mega-mega-ginormous. Gigantic to the max. Endlessly vast. Totally, unbelievably massive. Look, it was BIG.
  • In 1066 and All That, Newbury is mentioned several times in every list of battles in the English Civil War.
  • Invoked by Gene Wolfe in the collection: "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories", the first story in the book being "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories". Other stories in the collection are "The Doctor of Death Island" and "The Death of Doctor Island".
  • The title of Joan Hess's The Murder at the Murder at the Mimosa Inn sounds so much like this trope that some book dealers omit the first three words in for-sale listings, assuming them to be a typo. It's actually not redundant at all: it's about a for-real murder which takes place at a Mystery Dinner.
  • Into a Dark Realm gives us Jommy's reaction to the possibility of going to a university run by the Monks of Durga:
    "They're celibates! They beat each other with canes for penance! They take vows of silence that last for years! They're celibates!"
  • In Relativity, the supervillain Rune really wants to make sure people get his name right.
    Dark Flame: So, you know my name, yet I dont know yours.
    Rune: Rune. But you can call me...Rune.
  • The fifth book of the Maximum Ride series, MAX: A Maximum Ride Novel. Later Justified because subsequent volumes sport such titles as FANG: A Maximum Ride Novel and ANGEL: A Maximum Ride Novel.
  • The Phantom Tollbooth: During his visit to Dictionopolis, the Kingdom of Words, Milo meets the advisors to King Azaz the Unabridged; the Duke of Definition, the Minister of Meaning, the Earl of Essence, the Count of Connotation and the Undersecretary of Understanding. Milo points out that their titles mean pretty much the same thing, to which they wholeheartedly agree.
  • The Black Echo: Bosch describing Meadows.
    Bosch: He'd volunteer and volunteer and volunteer.
  • The Eye of Argon: Grignr finds himself in a "stygian cloud of charcoal ebony", or a dark cloud of dark darkness.
  • A non-fiction example: iconic publisher Oxford University Press is renowned for its many "Oxford Book of xxxx" publications. Inevitably this led to the release of one book entitled The Oxford Book of Oxford.