Monday, December 24, 2012

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Women, as everybody knows, constantly act on impulses which they cannot explain even to themselves.

Women can resist a man's love, a man's fame, a man's personal appearance, and man's money; but they cannot resist a man's tongue, when he knows how to talk to them.

"Men little know, when they say hard things to us, how well we remember them, and how much harm they do us."

"They are all in love with some other man. Who gets the first of a woman's heart? In all my experience I have never yet met with the man who was Number One. Number Two, sometimes. Number Three, Four, Five, often. Number One, never!"

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It was as a concession to his hypochondriacal imagination that he formed the habit of reading in bed-- it soothed him. He read until he was tired and often fell asleep with the lights still on.

A sense of responsibility would spoil her. She's too pretty.

"You don't want to do anything?"
"I want to sleep."
For a second he was startled, almost as though she had meant this literally.
"Sort of. I want to just be lazy and I want some of the people around me to be doing things, because that makes me feel comfortable and safe-- and I want some of them to be doing nothing at all, because they can be graceful and companionable for me. But I never want to change people or get excited over them."

The stark and unexpected miracle of a night fades out with the lingering death of the last starts and the premature birth of the first newsboys.

The growth of intimacy is like that. First one gives off his best picture, the bright and finished product mended with bluff and falsehood and humor. Then more details are required and one paints a second portrait, and a third-- before long the best lines cancel out-- and the secret is exposed at last; the planes of the pictures have intermingled and given us away, and though we paint and paint we can no longer sell a picture. We must be satisfied with hoping that such fatuous accounts of ourselves as we make to our wives and children and business associates are accepted as true.

A woman should be able to kiss a man beautifully and romantically without any desire to be either his wife or his mistress.

"Don't!" she said quietly. "I don't want that."
She sat down on the far side of the lounge and gazed straight before her. A frown had gathered between her eyes. Anthony sank down beside her and closed his hand over hers. It was lifeless and unresponsive.
"Why, Gloria!" He made a motion as if to put his arm about her but she drew away.
"I don't want that," she repeated.
"I'm very sorry," he said, a little impatiently. "I-- I didn't know you made such fine distinctions."
She did not answer.
"Won't you kiss me, Gloria?"
"I don't want to." It seemed to him she had not moved for hours.
"A sudden change, isn't it?" Annoyance was growing in his voice.
"Is it?" She appeared uninterested. It was almost as though she were looking at some one else.
"Perhaps I'd better go."
No reply. He rose and regarded her angrily, uncertainly. Again he sat down.
"Gloria, Gloria, won't you kiss me?"
"No." Her lips, parting for the word, had just faintly stirred.
Again he got to his feet, this time with less decision, less confidence.
"Then I'll go."
"All right-- I'll go"
He was aware of a certain irremediable lack of originality in his remarks. Indeed he felt that the whole atmosphere had grown oppressive. He wished she would speak, rail at him, cry out upon him, anything but his pervasive and chilling silence. He cursed himself for a weak fool; his clearest desire was to move her, to hurt her, to see her wince. Helplessly, involuntarily, he erred again.
"If you're tired of kissing me I'd better go"
He saw her lips curl slightly and his last dignity left him. She spoke, at length:
"I believe you've made that remark several times before."
He looked about him immediately, saw his hat and coat on a chair-- blundered into them, during an intolerable moment. Looking again at the couch he perceived that she had not turned, not even moved. With a shaken, immediately regretted "good-by" he went quickly but without dignity from the room.
For over a moment Gloria made no sound. Her lips were still curled; her glance was straight, proud, remote. Then her eyes blurred a little, and she murmured three words half aloud to the death-bound fire:
"Good-by, you ass!" she said.

...when she changed her mind and opening a table-drawer brought out a little black book-- a "Line-a-day" diary. This she had kept for seven years. Many of the pencil entries were almost illegible and there were notes and references to nights and afternoons long since forgotten, for it was not an intimate diary, even though it began with the immemorial "I am going to keep a diary for my children." Yet as she thumbed over the pages the eyes of many men seemed to look out at her from their half-obliterated names.

... And, after all, an obsolete list. She was in love now, set for the eternal romance that was to be the synthesis of all romance, yet sad for these men and these moonlights and for the "thrills" she had had-- and the kisses. The past-- her past, oh, what a joy! She had been exuberantly happy.

... After a moment she found a pencil and holding it unsteadily drew three parallel lines beneath the last entry. Then she printed FINIS in large capitals, put the book back in the drawer, and crept into bed.

Love lingered-- by way of long conversations at night into those stark hours when the mind thins and sharpens and the borrowings from dreams become the stuff of all life, by way of deep and intimate kindnesses they developed toward each other, by way of their laughing at the same absurdities and thinking the same things noble and the same things sad.

"I can sleep so well, so well with you in my arms."
Coming into Gloria's arms had a quite different meaning. It required that he should slide one arm under her shoulder, lock both arms about her, and arrange himself as nearly as possible as a sort of three-sided crib, for her luxurious ease. Anthony, who tossed, whose arms went tinglingly to sleep after half an hour of that position, would wait until she was asleep and roll her gently over to her side of the bed-- then, left to his own devices, he would curl himself into his usual knots.

Beautiful things grow to a certain height and then they fail and fade off, breathing out memories as they decay.

It seems that we he kissed me he began to think that perhaps he could get away with a little more, that I needn't be "respected".

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvelous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it.

Yes; she is a peacock in everything but beauty.

That accounts for the fact that we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves. In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place.

It is in the brain, and the brain only, that the great sins of the world take place also.

Always! That is a dreadful word. It makes me shudder when I hear it. Women are so fond of using it. They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever.

Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.

The post on her left was occupied by Mr. Erskine of Treadley, and old gentleman of considerable charm and culture, who had fallen, however, into bad habits of silence, having, as he explained once to Lady Agatha, said everything that he had to say before he was thirty.

"I love him," she said simply

To know him is to trust him.

"Women are wonderfully practical," murmured Lord Henry, "much more practical than we are. In situations of that kind we often forget to say anything about marriage, and they always remind us."

Her trust makes me faithful, her belief makes me good.

There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us.

Life has always poppies in her hands.

The one charm of the past is that it is the past.

There seemed to him to be something tragic in a friendship so coloured by romance.

...scandals about myself don't interest me. They have not got the charm of novelty.

He was determined that he would not think about what had happened until it became absolutely necessary that he should do so.

Life is a great disappointment.

There are moments, psychologists tell us, when the passion for sin, or for what the world calls sin, so dominates a nature that every fibre of the body, as every cell of the brain, seems to be instinct with fearful impulses. Men and women at such moments lose the freedom of their will. They move to their terrible end as automatons move. Choice is taken from them, and conscience is either killed, or, if it lives at all, lives but to give rebellion its fascination and disobedience its charm. For all sins, as theologians weary not of reminding us, are sins of disobedience. When that high spirit, that morning star of evil, fell from heaven, it was as a rebel that he fell.

Knowledge would be fatal. It is the uncertainty that charms one. A mist makes things wonderful.

I suppose she will be married some day to a rough carter or a grinning ploughman. Well, the fact of having met you, and loved you, will teach her to despise her husband, and she will be wretched.

Oh! anything becomes a pleasure if one does it too often.