The OF Blog: More quotes from books being read

Saturday, February 26, 2011

More quotes from books being read

It has dawned upon me that I have never placed a proper valuation upon womankind.  For that matter, though not amative to any considerable degree so far as I have discovered, I was never outside the atmosphere of women until now.  My mother and sisters were always about me, and I was always trying to escape them; for they worried me to distraction with their solicitude for my health and with their periodic inroads on my den, when my orderly confusion, upon which I prided myself, was turned into worse confusion and less order, though it looked neat to the eye.  I never could find anything when they had departed.  But now, alas, how welcome would have been the feel of their presence, the frou-frou and swish-swish of their skirts which I had so cordially detested!  I am sure, if I ever get home, that I shall never be irritable with them again.  They may dose me and doctor me morning, noon, and night, and dust and sweep and put my den to rights every minute of the day, and I shall only lean back and survey it all and be thankful that that I am possessed of a mother and some several sisters.

Gott verzeihs meinem lieben Mann,
Er hat an mir nicht wohl getan.
Geht da stracks in die Welt hinein
und läßt mich auf dem Stroh allein.
Tät ihn doch wahrlich hicht betrüben,
Tät ihn, weiß Gott, recht hezlich lieben.

The storm raged fiercely all that night, but nothing of particular note occurred.  The next morning, however, when they came down to breakfast, they found the terrible stain of blood once again on the floor.  'I don't think it can be the fault of the Paragon Detergent,' said Washington, 'for I have tried it with everything.  It must be the ghost.'  He accordingly rubbed out the stain a second time, but the second morning it appeared again.  The third morning also it was there, though the library had been locked up at night by Mr. Otis himself, and the key carried upstairs.  The whole family were now quite interested; Mr. Otis began to suspect that he had been too dogmatic in his denial of the existence of ghosts, Mrs. Otis expressed her intention of joining the Psychical Society, and Washington prepared a long letter to Messrs. Myers and Podmore on the subject of the Permanence of Sanguineous Stains when connected with Crime.  That night all doubts about the objective existence of phantasmata were removed for ever.
It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.  I'm stupid about executions.  The idea of being electrocuted makes me sick, and that's all there was to read about in the papers - goggle-eyed headlines staring up at me on every street corner and at the fusty, peanut-smelling mouth of every subway.  It had nothing to do with me, but I couldn't help wondering what it would be like, being burned alive all along your nerves.

Sensitive though poor, imaginative though forever hungry, Douceline learned early in life to delight in caresses and embraces.  She loved to pass her hands across the cheeks of little boys, and to put her arms around the necks of little girls, stroking them as she might have stroked a cat.  She loved to kiss the knitted fingers of her mother's hands, and whenever she was banished to the corner to do penance for her petty sins she would occupy herself in kissing her own palms and her own arms, and the bare knees which she would raise up to her lips one by one.

The English word "decadence," and its French counterpart décadence, derive from the Latin cadere, to fall.  But the kind of fall indicated thereby is a special one, as signified by the verbs to which the nouns are parent:  the obsolete decair in Old French and "decay" in English.  To decay is to rot, to fall away from a state of health into a gradual ruination which is punctuated, but not begun or ended, by death.

The rain came unexpectedly, after nearly three years of drought.  In those days, Youssef still lived with his mother in a whitewashed house that huddled with others like it along a narrow dirt road.  The house had one room with no windows, and a roof made of corrugated tin held down by rocks.  The yard, where his mother did the cooking and the washing, was open to the sky.  It was in the yard that she cleaned the sheep hides she took in on the day of Eid, and there Youssef received the rare friends who came to visit.  The front door was painted blue, but over the years rust had eaten its edges, turning them reddish brown, so that holes had begun to appear at each of the four corners.

These quotes are from seven books which I am either currently reading or hope to begin reading this weekend.  Several, if not all, of these shall be reviewed.  Some are re-reads, while others are waiting to be discovered either for the first time or for the first time in its native language.  These books, by both men and women, span genres and centuries, yet there are some common threads to be found in many, if not all, of them.  Which ones do you recognize without resorting to Google?  Which passages appeal to you even if you have never heard of the book or author?


4 comments:

blotter-paper.com said...

I believe the fourth one is the opening of the Bell Jar.

Larry said...

It is.

Regina Dinter said...

The only ones I recognize are Goethe (Faust) and Wilde (The Canterville Ghost).

Larry said...

Yep. Now #2, 3, and #4 have been figured out. Only four more to go!

 
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