Category Archives: Quotes

from LE GRAND MEAULNES by Alain-Fournier

I left then. After a few steps I stumbled over a kerb and nearly fell. That night – it was last night – when the women and children in the court were quiet at last and I was hoping for some sleep, I kept hearing the cabs go by in the street. They passed at fairly long intervals, but as soon as one went by I listened for the next in spite of myself: the tinkle of a bell, the clop of hoofs on the asphalt. And the sounds turned into words – the forsaken city, love beyond recall, night without end, summer, fever…

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from AMONG THE BELIEVERS: AN ISLAMIC JOURNEY by V.S. Naipaul

At midnight they had to leave.  They were nervous about driving back later than that.  Mohammed left two documents for me to look at.  One was an essay he had written, “Modernism Defects: The Trend of Nahdah (Renaissance) in the Muslim World.  It was in the style of Islamic missionary writing.  One section was headed “The Bankruptcy of the West” (“vice and lust, alcohol and women, wild parties and tempting surroundings”); another was headed “The Perfectness of Islam.”  The was a logic in this.  The West, which had provided Mohammed with academic learning, was open to the criticism it had trained him in.  Islam, which had not provided this learning, which provided only the restoring faith, was exempt from criticism.

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from BALTHAZAR by Lawrence Durrell

If things were always what they seemed how impoverished would be the imagination of man.

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from THE DARK LABYRINTH by Lawrence Durrell

Before I lived by moral precepts – for morality is an attempt to unite ourselves to people. Now I don’t feel the need for religion, or faith in the old sense. In my own mind, inside (not as something I think or feel, but as something I am) inside there I no longer prohibit and select. I include. It’s the purely scientific meaning of the word “love”.

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from THE ENGLISH PATIENT by Michael Ondaatje

There were rivers of desert tribes, the most beautiful humans I’ve met in my life. We were German, English, Hungarian, African – all of us insignificant to them. Gradually we became nationless. I came to hate nations. We are deformed by nation-states. Madox died because of nations.
The desert could not be claimed or owned – it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names long before Canterbury existed, long before battles and treaties quilted Europe and the East. Its caravans, those strange rambling feasts and cultures, left nothing behind, not an ember. All of us, even those with European homes and children in the distance, wished to remove the clothing of our countries. It was a place of faith. We disappeared into landscape. Fire and sand. We left the harbours of oasis. The places water came to and touched… Ain, Bir, Wadi, Foggara, Khottara, Shaduf. I didn’t want my name against such beautiful names. Erase the family name! Erase nations! I was taught such things by the desert.

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from An Interview with John Updike in The Paris Review

I would write ads for deodorants or labels for catsup bottles, if I had to. The miracle of turning inklings into thoughts and thoughts into words and words into metal and print and ink never palls for me.

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My first thought about art, as a child, was that the artist brings something into the world that didn’t exist before, and that he does it without destroying something else. A kind of refutation of the conservation of matter. That still seems to me its central magic, its core of joy.

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO READ THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW.

the-art-of-fiction-no-43-john-updike

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from HITCH-22 by Christopher Hitchens

Yvonne, then, was the exotic and the sunlit when I could easily have had a boyhood of stern and dutiful English gray. She was the cream in the coffee, the gin in the Campari, the offer of wine or champagne instead of beer, the laugh in the face of bores and purse-mouths and skinflints, the insurance against bigots and prudes. Her defeat and despair were also mine for a long time, but I have reason to know that she wanted me to withstand the woe, and when I once heard myself telling someone that she had allowed me “a second identity” I quickly checked myself and thought, no, perhaps with luck she had represented my first and truest one.

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from PIGEON FEATHERS by John Updike

A woman’s beauty lies, not in any exaggeration of the specialized zones, nor in any general harmony that could be worked out by means of the sectio aurea or a similar aesthetic superstition; but in the arabesque of the spine. The curve by which the back modulates into the buttocks. It is here that grace sits and rides a woman’s body.

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from ABSALOM ABSALOM by William Faulkner

…and your grandfather said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto Me’: and what did He mean by that? how, if He meant that little children should need to be suffered to approach Him, what sort of earth had He created; that if they had to suffer in order to approach Him, what sort of heaven did He have?

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from THE MAGUS by John Fowles

Men love war because it allows them to look serious. Because they imagine it is the one thing that stops women laughing at them. In it they can reduce women to the status of objects. That is the great distinction between the sexes. Men see objects, women see the relationship between objects. Whether the objects need each other, love each other, match each other. It is an extra dimension of feeling we men are without and one that makes war abhorrent to all real women – and absurd. I will tell you what war is. War is a psychosis caused by an inability to see relationships. Our relationship with our fellow-men. Our relationship with our economic and historical situation. And above all our relationship to nothingness. To death.

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