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."

1 comment:

  1. nice post:) Keep up the great work!