The OF Blog: Weekly quotage

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Weekly quotage

There are sores which slowly erode the mind in solitude like a kind of canker.

It is impossible to convey a just idea of the agony which this disease can inflict.  In general, people are apt to relegate such inconceivable sufferings to the category of the incredible.  Any mention of them in conversation or in writing is considered in the light of current beliefs, the individual's personal beliefs in particular, and tends to provoke a smile of incredulity and derision.  The reason for this incomprehension is that mankind has not yet discovered a cure for this disease.  Relief from it is to be found only in the oblivion brought about by wine and in the artificial sleep induced by opium and similar narcotics.  Alas, the effects of such medicines are only temporary.  After a certain point, instead of alleviating the pain, they only intensify it.
The civil wars which existed there, however bitter, were conducted with all bourgeois propriety.  Politics, religion, art, science, grouped themselves, and courteously competed for numbers and reputation.  This summer, however, had seen a spectacular triumph of drama, for it had become known that Peter Stanhope had consented to allow the restless talent of the Hill to produce his latest play.

Last night, I finished work on my fourth novel. It is my greatest achievement, I think.

It was an incredibly untidy business.  The results are scattered about all over this room in a hotel by the Baltic Sea, and I really must collate the myriad pages.  I have been a victim of that unique mental fever from which only writers suffer.  It is a malady brought on by a combination of a retreat into an inner world of the imagination and too much intense concentration.  In this state the real world loses substantiality, and dreamlike visions from the depths of imagination take over completely.

The birds suddenly leap into the air from the grass and from the trees, come together and rise in a palpitating clot, then disperse to the horizon...each one black against the darkening blue sky.  The wind leaps from the grass and trees, it rises and grows stronger, more alarming.  Over my grave the turf is ruffled, the dry flowers knock against my stone battering their petals away.  The world is filled with energy; these minute events each impart another twist to this or that hidden coil, and behind our earthen walls decay rifles our bodies like hot wind - we feel it, too.  The wind rises and flickers through our sere, pompous grave clothes.  At its far extremity a woman in a costume raises her veiled head and howls softly at the sky.  She is turning into a coyote with a light heart, though her appearance stays the same.

The candleflame and the image of the candleflame caught in the pierflass twisted and righted when he entered the hall and again when he shut the door.  He took off his hat and came slowly forward.  The floorboards creaked under his boots.  In his black suit he stood in the dark glass where the lilies leaned so palely from their waisted cutglass vase.  Along the cold hallway behind him hung the portraits of forebears only dimly known to him all framed in glass and dimly lit above the narrow wainscotting.  He looked down at the guttered candlestub.  He pressed his thumbprint in the warm wax pooled on the oak veneer.  Lastly he looked at the face so caved and drawn among the folds of funeral cloth, the yellowed moustache, the eyelids paper thin.  That was not sleeping.  That was not sleeping.

Hello, miss.  Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am looking for some company this evening.  My name is Simon, and you are...Rosemary.  Funny, I was just daydreaming in the key of Rosicrucianism.  Never mind.  Please sit, and watch out for splinters on your chair, so you don't catch your dress.  It appears that everything around here has come to the point of frays and splinters.  But what this old place lacks in freshness of decor it amply makes up in atmosphere, don't you think?  Yes, as you say, I suppose it does serve its purpose.  It's a little lax as far as table service, though.  I'm afraid that in the way of drinks one must procure for one's self.  Thank you, I'm glad you think I have a nice way of talkin'. Now, can I get you something from the bar?  All right, a beer you shall have.  And do me a favor please:  before I come back, you will already have taken that wad of gum out of your mouth.  Thank you, and I'll return shortly with our drinks.

Hopefully, you know some of the stories that I quote here.  Perhaps you'll be curious enough about the rest to inquire after their titles in order to purchase them.  Several are famous and most of the rest at least deserve even greater acclaim.


James said...
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James said...

I recognized the last because I read it about a month ago. The narrative style, thanks to its one-sided nature, is neither easy to forget nor easy to confuse. But the same can be said of most of the author's work that I have read--the tone is usually dry to the point of making it somewhat difficult to read through, but by the end of the story everything comes together and has left me (and my fiancée, as well) utterly wowed at just how great it was.

The prose found of the fourth passage is recognizable to those who have read its author. I would say that it should be, but if I am able to put a name to it without having read the book in question, then I know those few who have read the author will be able.

And, of course, I am not putting a name to them, because that's just no fun.

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