Those were her best days, although there was always something feckless about her, something so slack and almost fearful in her too frequent smile, so that when you saw Mignon being happy, you always thought: It can't last. She had the febrile gaiety of a being without a past, without a present, yet she existed thus, without memory or history, only because her past was too bleak to think of and her future too terrible to contemplate; she was the broken blossom of the present tense.
She herself is a haunted house. She does not possess herself; her ancestors sometimes come and peer out of the windows of her eyes and that is very frightening. She has the mysterious solitude of ambiguous states; she hovers in a no-man’s land between life and death, sleeping and waking.
To ride a bicycle is in itself some protection against superstitious fears, since the bicycle is the product of pure reason applied to motion. Geometry at the service of man! Give me two spheres and a straight line and I will show you how far I can take them. Voltaire himself might have invented the bicycle, since it contributes so much to man’s welfare and nothing at all to his bane. Beneficial to the health, it emits no harmful fumes and permits only the most decorous speeds. How can a bicycle ever be an implement of harm?
Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.
She sleeps. And now she wakes each day a little less. And, each day, takes less and less nourishment, as if grudging the least moment of wakefulness, for, from the movement under her eyelids, and the somnolent gestures of her hands and feet, it seems as if her dreams grow more urgent and intense, as if the life she lives in the closed world of dreams is now about to possess her utterly, as if her small, increasingly reluctant wakenings were an interpretation of some more vital existence, so she is loath to spend even those necessary moments of wakefulness with us, wakings strange as her sleepings. Her marvellous fate - a sleep more lifelike than the living, a dream which consumes the world.'And, sir,' concluded Fevvers, in a voice that now took on the sombre, majestic tones of a great organ, 'we do believe . . . her dream will be the coming century.'And, oh, God . . . how frequently she weeps!
The lovely Hazard girls', they used to call them. Huh. Lovely is as lovely does; if they looked like what they behave like, they'd frighten little children.
She stands and moves within the invisible pentacle of her own virginity. She is an unbroken egg: she is a sealed vessel, she has inside her a magic space the entrance to which is shut tight with a plug of membrane, she is a closed system, she does not know how to shiver.
Out of the frying pan into the fire! What is marriage but prostitution to one man instead of many? No different!
Swahili storytellers believe that women are incorrigibly wicked, diabolically cunning and sexually insatiable; I hope this is true, for the sake of the women.
And, conversely, she went on to herself, sneering at the Grand Duke's palace, poverty is wasted on the poor, who never know how to make the best of things, are only the rich without money, are just as useless at looking after themselves, can't handle their cash just like the rich can't, always squandering it on bright, pretty, useless things in just the same way.
It is a characteristic of human beings that if they haven’t got a family of their own, they will invent one.
They had imagined too often and too much and so they had exhausted all their possibilities. When they embraced each other’s phantoms, each in his separate privacy has savoured the most refined of pleasures but, connoisseurs of unreality as they were, they could not bear the crude weight, the rank smell and the ripe taste of real flesh. It is always a dangerous experiment to act out a fantasy; they had undertaken the experiment rashly and had failed…
Oh, the pain of it, thought Lee, thinking about his children, oh! the exquisite pain of unrequited love. The only authentic wound, the sweet curse they inflict on you, the revenge of heterosexuality.
At length the grandeur of the mountains becomes monotonous; with familiarity, the landscape ceases to provoke awe and wonder and the traveller sees the alps with the indifferent eye of those who always live there.
There Peter sat in the new sunlight, plaiting the straw for baskets, until he saw the thing he had been taught most to fear advancing silently along the lea of an outcrop of rock.
I was a young girl, a virgin, and therefore men denied me rationality just as they denied it to all those who were not exactly like themselves, in all their unreason.
The victim is always morally superior to the master, that is the victim's ambivalent triumph. That is why there have been so few notoriously wicked women in comparison to the number of notoriously wicked men, our victim status ensures that we rarely have the opportunity.
Wearing an antique bridal gown, the beautiful queen of the vampires sits all alone in her dark, high house under the eyes of the portraits of her demented and atrocious ancestors, each one of whom, through her, projects a baleful posthumous existence; she counts out the Tarot cards, ceaselessly construing a constellation of possibilities as if the random fall of the cards on the red plush tablecloth before her could precipitate her from her chill, shuttered room into a country of perpetual summer and obliterate the perennial sadness of a girl who is both death and the maiden.
By the end of the affair, she had acquired so much miserable information about men and women she almost decided to give up relationships for good.
She was no malleable, since frigid, substance upon which desires might be executed; she was not a true prostitute for she was the object on which men prostituted themselves.
She was a Victorian girl; a girl of the days when men were hard and top-hatted and masculine and ruthless and girls were gentle and meek and did a great deal of sewing and looked after the poor and laid their tender napes beneath a husband’s booted foot, and even if he brought home cabfuls of half-naked chorus girls and had them dance on the rich round mahogany dining-table (rosily reflecting great pearly hams and bums in its polished depths). Or, drunk to a frenzy, raped the kitchen-maid before the morning assembly of servants and children and her black silk-dressed self (gathered for prayers). Or forced her to stitch, on shirts, her fingers to rags to pay his gambling debts.Husbands were a force of nature or an act of God; like an earthquake or the dreaded consumption, to be borne with, to be meekly acquiesced to, to be impregnated by as frequently as Nature would allow. It took the mindless persistence, the dogged imbecility of the grey tides, to love a husband.
She has the mysterious solitude of ambiguous states; she hovers in a no-man’s land between life and death, sleeping and waking.
Memory is the grid of meaning we impose on the random and bewildering flux of the world. Memory is the line we pay out behind us as we travel through time--it is the clue, like Ariadne's, which means we do not lose our way. Memory is the lasso with which we capture the past and haul it from chaos towards us in nicely ordered sequences, like those of baroque keyboard music.
Outside the window, there slides past that unimaginable and deserted vastness where night is coming on, the sun declining in ghastly blood-streaked splendour like a public execution across, it would seem, half a continent, where live only bears and shooting stars and the wolves who lap congealing ice from water that holds within it the entire sky. All white with snow as if under dustsheets, as if laid away eternally as soon as brought back from the shop, never to be used or touched. Horrors! And, as on a cyclorama, this unnatural spectacle rolls past at twenty-odd miles an hour in a tidy frame of lace curtains only a little the worse for soot and drapes of a heavy velvet of dark, dusty blue.
She stayed beside me until I slept, waveringly, brilliantly, hooded in diaphanous scarlet, and occasionally she left an imperative written in lipstick on my dusty windowpane. BE AMOROUS! she exhorted one night and, another night, BE MYSTERIOUS! Some nights later, she scribbled: WHEN YOU BEGIN TO THINK, YOU LOSE THE POINT.
MINISTER: All he has done is to find some means of bewitching the intelligence. He has only induced a radical suspension of disbelief. As in the early days of the cinema, all the citizens are jumping through the screen to lay their hands on the naked lady in the bathtub!AMBASSADOR: And yet, in fact, their fingers touch flesh.MINISTER: They believe they do. Yet all they touch is substantial shadow.AMBASSADOR: And what a beautiful definition of flesh! You know I am only substantial shadow, Minister, but if you cut me, I bleed. Touch me, I palpitate!
He is the intermediary between us, his audience, the living, and they, the dolls, the undead, who cannot live at all and yet who mimic the living in every detail since, though they cannot speak or weep, still they project those signals of signification we instantly recognize as language.