Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

"Yes, that's the bore of comfort...we only know when we're comfortable"

"In matters of opinion she had had her own way, and it had led her into a thousand ridiculous zigzags."

"She had an unquenchable desire to think well of herself. She had a theory that it was only under this provision life was worth living; that one should be one of the best."

"She had an infinite hope that she should never do anything wrong."

"Of course the danger of a high spirit was the danger of inconsistency"

"Her way of taking compliments seemed sometimes rather dry; she got rid of them as rapidly as possible. But as regards this she was sometimes misjudged; she was thought insensible to them, whereas in fact she was simply unwilling to show how infinitely they pleased her."

"It seemed to her at last that she would do well to take a book; formerly, when heavy-hearted, she had been able, with the help of some well-chosen volume, to transfer the seat of consciousness to the organ of pure reason."

"Of course I've seen you very little, but my impression dates from the very first hour we met. I lost no time, I fell in love with you then. It was at first sight, as the novels say; I know now that's not a fancy-phrase, and I shall think better of novels for everemore."

"If I can gain by waiting I'll gladly wait a long time. Only remember that in the end my dearest happiness depends on your answer."

"I'd much rather have a good answer six months hence than a bad one to-day."

"...and that you'll remember how absolutely my happiness is in your hands."

"I won't say that if you refuse me you'll kill me; I shall not die of it. But I shall do worse; I shall live to no purpose."

"She was already liable to the incursions of one suitor at this place, and though it might be pleasant to be appreciated in opposite quarters there was a kind of grossness in entertaining two such passionate pleaders at once, even in a case where the entertainment should consist of dismissing them."

"There was something in these delays and postponements that touched the girl and renewed her sense of his desire to be considerate and patient, not to appear to urge her too grossly; a consideration the more studied that she was so sure he 'really liked' her."

"We cant believe by willing it."

"There's no more usual basis of union than a mutual misunderstanding."

"She had moreover a great fondness for intervals of solitude."

"I'm capable of nothing with regard to you, but just of being infernally in love with you. If one's strong one loves only the more strongly."

"It's no kindness to a woman to press her so hard, to urge her against her will."

"The great thing is to love something."

"'Well,' said Henrietta, 'you think you can lead a romantic life, that you can live by pleasing yourself and pleasing others. You'll find you're mistaken. Whatever life you lead you must put your soul in it--to make any sort of success of it; and from the moment you do that it ceases to be romance, I assure you: it becomes grim reality! And you can't always please yourself; you must sometimes please other people. That, I admit, you're very ready to do; but there's another thing that's still more important--you must often displease others. You must always be ready for that--you must never shrink from it. That doesn't suit you at all--you're too fond of admiration, you like to be thought well of. You think we can escape disagreeable duties by taking romantic views--that's your great illusion, my dear. But we can't. You must be prepared on many occasions in life to please no one at all--not even yourself'"

"Besides, she had little skill in producing an impression which she knew to be expected: nothing could be happier, in general, than to seem dazzling, but she had a perverse unwillingness to glitter by arrangement."

"As soon as you like them they're off again! I've been deceived too often; I've ceased to form attachments, to permit myself to feel attractions."

"'A woman's natural mission is to be where she's most appreciated.'
'The point's to find out where that is.'
'Very true--she often wastes a great deal of time in the enquiry. People ought to make it very plain to her.'"

"What he has done? He has done nothing that has had to be undone. And he has known how to wait."

"I felt very strongly what I expressed to you last year; I couldnt think of anything else. I tried to forget--energetically, systematically. I tried to take an interest in somebody else. I tell you this because I want you to know I did my duty. I didnt succeed. I was for the same purpose I went abroad--as far away as possible. They say travelling distracts the mind, but it didnt distract mine. I've thought of you perpetually, ever since I last saw you. I'm exactly the same. I love you just as much, and every I said to you then is just as true. This instant at which I speak to you shows me again exactly how, to my great misfortune, you just insuperably charm me."

"No, dont do that. Dont put us in a parenthesis--give us a chapter to ourselves."

"It was more romantic to say nothing, and, drinking deep, in secret, of romance, she was as little disposed to ask poor Lily's advice as she would have been to close that rare volume forever."

"I'd rather think of you as dead than as married to another man."

"I dont mind anything you can say now--I dont feel it. The cruellest things you could think of would be mere pin-prinks. After what you've done I shall never feel anything--I mean anyting but that. That I shall feel all my life."

"There's nothing higher for a girl than to marry."

"I should have said that the man for you would have been a more active, larger, freer sort of nature."

"Money's a horrid thing to follow, but a charming thing to meet."

"The reader may therefore be given the key to the mystery."

"Still, who could say what men ever were looking for?"

"A lover outside's always a lover. He's sometimes even more of one."

"She had too many ideas for herself; but that was just what one married for, to share them with someone else."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Villette by Charlotte Bronte

"Mama, I believe that creature is a changeling : she is a perfect cabinet of oddities; but I should be dull without her: she amuses me a great deal more than you or Lucy Snowe."

"Picture me then idle, basking, plump, and happy, stretched on a cushioned deck, warmed with constant sunshine, rocked by breezes indolently soft."

"My little morsel of human affection, which I prized as if it were a solid pearl, must melt in my fingers and slip thence like a dissolving hailstone."

"I wait, with some impatience in my pulse, but no doubt in my breast."

"I still think of Frank more than of God; and unless it be counted that in thus loving the creature so much, so long, and so exclusively, I have not at least blasphemed the Creator..."

"Who but a coward would pass his whole life in hamlets, and forever abandon his faculties to the eating rust of obscurity?"

"A moon was in the sky, not a full moon but a young crescent. I saw her through a space in the boughs overhead. She and the stars, visible beside her, were no strangers where all else was strange: my childhood knew them. I had seen that golden sign with the dark globe in its curve leaning back on azure, beside an old thorn at the top of an old field, in Old England, in long past days, just as it now leaned back beside a stately spire in this continental capital."

"She had indeed, the art of pleasing, for a given time, whom she would; but the feeling would not last: in an hour it was dried like dew, vanished like gossamer."

"No; for in my heart you have not the outline of a place: I only occasionally turn you over in my brain."

"How it was that what charmed so much, could at the same time so keenly pain?"

"Still repeating this word, I turned to my pillow; and, still repeating it, I seeped that pillow with tears."

"As to what lies below, leave that with God. Man, your equal, weak as you, and not fit to be your judge, may be shut out thence: take it to your Maker- show Him the secrets of the spirit He gave- ask Him how you are to bear the pains He has appointed- kneel in His presence, and pray with faith for light in darkness, for strength in piteous weakness, for patience in extreme need. Certainly, at some hour, though perhaps not your hour, the waiting waters will stir; in some shape, though perhaps not the shape you dreamed, which your heart loved, and for which it bled, the healing herald will descend."

"Where, indeed, does the moon not look well?"

"My art halts at the threshold of Hypochondria: she just looks in and sees a chamber of torture, but can neither say nor do much."

"That night- instead of crying myself to sleep- I went down to dreamland by a pathway bordered with pleasant thoughts."

"As to Ginevra, she might take the silver wings of a dove, or any other fowl that flies, and mount straight up to the highest place, among the highest stars, where her lover's highest flight of fancy chose to fix the constellation of her charms."

"It seemed to me that an original and good Picture was just as scarce as an original and good book."

"For the love of heaven to shield well his heart. You need not fall in love with that lady," I said, "because, I tell you before-hand, you might die at her feet, and she would not love you again."

"She has made me feel that nine parts in ten of my heart have always been sound as a bell, and the tenth bled from a mere puncture: a lancet-prick that will heal in trice."

"Indeed, I never liked bitters; nor do I believe them wholesome. And to whatever is sweet, be it poison or food, you cannot, at least, deny its own delicious quality-- sweetness. Better, perhaps, to die quickly a pleasant death, then drag on long a charmless life."

"The sight of the gentlemen did me good and gave me courage: it seemed as if there was some help and hope, with men at hand."

"Good-night, Dr. John; you are good, you are beautiful; but you are not mine."

"Life is said to be all disappointment. I was not disappointed."

"His heart will weep her always: the essence of Emanuel's nature is--constancy."

"Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation."

"Yes; it is sadness. Life, however, has worse than that. Deeper than melancholy, lies heartbreak."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The House of Mirth- Edith Wharton

"The attitude revealed the long slope of her slender sides, which gave a kind of wild-wood grace to her outline-- as though she were a captured dryad subdued to the conventions of the drawing-room; and Selden reflected that it was the same streak of sylvan freedom in her nature that lent such savour to her artificiality."

"Lost causes had a romantic charm for her."

"That's unjust, I think, because as I understand it, one of the conditions of citizenship is not to think too much about money, and the only way not to think about money is to have a great deal of it."

"Isn't it natural that I should try to belittle all the things I can't offer you?"

"No insect hangs its nest on threads as frail as those which will sustain the weigh of human vanity."

"It was perhaps her very manner of holding herself aloof that appealed to his collector's passion for the rare and unattainable."

"But society, amused for a while at playing Cinderella, soon wearied of the hearthside role, and welcomed the fairy godmother in the shape of any magician powerful enough to turn the shrunken pumpkin back again into the golden coach."

"As to the nature of Selden's growing kindness, Gerty would no more have dared to define it than she would have tried to learn a butterfly's colours by knocking the dust from its wings."

"I've no doubt the rabbit always thinks it is fascinating the anaconda."

"One of the surprises of her unoccupied state was the discovery that time, when it is left to itself and no definite demands are made on it, cannot be trusted to move at any recognized pace. Usually it loiters; but just when one has come to count upon its slowness, it may suddenly break into a wild irrational gallop."