Sunday, November 01, 2009

Book Quotes

One of my favorite things about reading is coming across a passage that just grabs your attention and really speaks to you. The last few years I've been trying to remember to write down such passages. I don't always remember, but I have accumulated a small collection, and I thought I'd share from that.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
She was borned in slavery time when folks, dat is black folks, didn’t sit down anytime dey felt lak it. So sittin’ on porches lak de white madam looked lak uh mighty fine thing tuh her. Dat’s what she wanted for me—don’t keer what it cost. Git up on uh high chair and sit dere. She didn’t have time tuh think what tuh do after you got up on de stool uh do nothin’. De object wuz tuh git dere. So Ah got up on de high stool lak she told me, but Pheoby, Ah done nearly languished tuh death up dere. Ah felt like de world wuz cryin’ extry and Ah ain’t read de common news get.

Sigh. I love that. This passage occurs as Janie is explaining to her friend why she left her second husband, a wealthy storeowner who basically treated her as an ornament. This is such a beautiful, wonderful book.

All She Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve
I count you among the most fortunate of persons to have felt so strongly for another human being, however unhappy the outcome. Is this not the point of our existence?

This passage really speaks to me because it makes me think about my first love and my first broken heart. I remember how badly I hurt, but I also remember how grateful I was that I had the chance to love someone like that.

The Alchemist's Daughter by Katharine McMahon
He didn’t teach me that with some people what seems to be real, isn’t real at all. I used to trust what I saw. He taught me that if I could see a thing and touch it, and if it behaved as I hoped it would, then these were true qualities. But I find that men aren’t like that, so how do I know what I can trust?

I think that this passage by itself is wonderful. But it also is an amazing synopsis of the book. The heroine was raised by her scientist father, and she lived with him until she met a man who seduced her, married her, and took her away from her sheltered life. I just love how McMahon was able to capture her book in this single passage.

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazer
Maybe I should have packed up and gone to Washington for good, used my friends there to find a position. Put that Wayah Town behind me. There are many who can make new selves at a moment's notice. Slough a skin, dismiss memory, move on. But that is not a skill I ever acquired.

Like the character in this book, I have never acquired that skill either. I remember reading this and thinking of the people I know who seem to be able to move to another stage of their life and abandon the old one. And I thought about how much I value the people I've met at each stage of my life and how I hope to never lose those connections.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
I would give up the unessential; I would give up my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.

This is so powerful. It is a distinction I think a lot of modern mothers are not able to make. When I read this I recalled the feeling I got when I read The Feminine Mystique for the first time. I remember being overcome with the need to call my mother and thank her for never sacrificing her own identify for me. That, in my opinion, is the best gift a mother can give.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Oh, Wuthering Heights, where do I start? The romance in this book is unparalleled—it moved me more than any love story ever has. I cry when I reread these passages. (Yes, I'm that lame.) There are so many passages that make me cry and take my breath away. Here are my favorites.

What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger; I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath—a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind—not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.

Two words would comprehend my future—death and hell; existence, after losing her, would be hell. Yet I was a fool to fancy for a moment that she valued Edgar Linton’s attachment more than mine. If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn’t love as much in eighty years as I could in a day. And Catherine has a heart as deep as I have; the sea could be as readily contained in the horse trough, as her whole affection be monopolized by him.

“You teach me how cruel you’ve been—cruel and false. Why did you despise me? Why did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry, and wring out my kisses and tears; they’ll blight you—they’ll damn you. You loved me—then what right had you to leave me? What right—answer me—for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery, and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, you, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart—you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine. So much the worse for me, that I am strong. Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you—oh, God! would you like to live with your soul in the grave?”
“Let me alone. Let me alone,” sobbed Catherine. “If I’ve done wrong, I’m dying for it. It is enough! You left me too—but I won’t upbraid you! I forgive you. Forgive me!”
“It is hard to forgive, and to look at those eyes, and feel those wasted hands,” he answered. “Kiss me again, and don’t let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love
my murderer—but yours! How can I?”

May she wake in torment!” he cried, with frightful vehemence, stamping his foot, and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of ungovernable passion. “Why, she’s a liar to the end! Where is she? Not there—not in heaven—not perished—where? Oh! you said you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer—I repeat it till my tongue stiffens—Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe—I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!

Yes, I know Heathcliff and Cathy love past the point of madness, but I still eat it up. Swoon!

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them.

An observation only a single woman can truly appreciate, I think.

River Lady by Jude Deveraux
Immediately, Wesley knew there was only one cure for her misery: he was going to make love to her.

And sometimes I write passages down because they are just too ridiculous not to.


Amy said...

Oh, you made me remember how much I loved Wuthering Heights!

Lindsey Lou said...

I cannot for the life of me believe that there are people that don't love that book!