Evelyn Waugh · 351 pages
Rating: (80.6K votes)
“Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there's no room for the present at all.”
“It doesn't matter what people call you unless they call you pigeon pie and eat you up.”
“I should like to bury something precious in every place where I've been happy and then, when I'm old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.”
“If you asked me now who I am, the only answer I could give with any certainty would be my name. For the rest: my loves, my hates, down even to my deepest desires, I can no longer say whether these emotions are my own, or stolen from those I once so desperately wished to be.”
“If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper...”
“Perhaps all our loves are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gate-posts and paving-stones along the weary road that others have tramped before us; perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us.”
“The trouble with modern education is you never know how ignorant people are. With anyone over fifty you can be fairly confident what's been taught and what's been left out. But these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into depths of confusion you didn't know existed.”
“O God, make me good, but not yet.”
“I felt that I was leaving part of myself behind, and that wherever I went afterwards I should feel the lack of it, and search for it hopelessly, as ghosts are said to do, frequenting the spots where they buried material treasures without which they cannot pay their way to the nether world.”
“To understand all is to forgive all.”
“No one is ever holy without suffering.”
“...for in that city [New York] there is neurosis in the air which the inhabitants mistake for energy.”
“Where can we hide in fair weather, we orphans of the storm?”
“He wasn't a complete human being at all. He was a tiny bit of one, unnaturally developed; something in a bottle, an organ kept alive in a laboratory. I thought he was a sort of primitive savage, but he was something absolutely modern and up-to-date that only this ghastly age could produce. A tiny bit of a man pretending he was the whole.”
“... To know and love one other human being is the root of all wisdom.”
“My theme is memory, that winged host that soared about me one grey morning of war-time. These memories, which are my life—for we possess nothing certainly except the past—were always with me. Like the pigeons of St. Mark’s, they were everywhere, under my feet, singly, in pairs, in little honey-voiced congregations, nodding, strutting, winking, rolling the tender feathers of their necks, perching sometimes, if I stood still, on my shoulder or pecking a broken biscuit from between my lips; until, suddenly, the noon gun boomed and in a moment, with a flutter and sweep of wings, the pavement was bare and the whole sky above dark with a tumult of fowl. Thus it was that morning.”
“[Change is] the only evidence of life.”
“These memories, which are my life--for we possess nothing certainly except the past--were always with me.”
“I've always been bad. Probably I shall be bad again, punished again. But the worse I am, the more I need God. I can't shut myself out from His mercy. ... Or it may be a private bargain between me and God, that if I give up this one thing I want so much, however bad I am, He won't quite despair of me in the end.”
“Oxford, in those days, was still a city of aquatint. In her spacious and quiet streets men walked and spoke as they had done in Newman's day; her autumnal mists, her grey springtime, and the rare glory of her summer days - such as that day - when the chestnut was in flower and the bells rang out high and clear over her gables and cupolas, exhaled the soft airs of centuries of youth. It was this cloistral hush which gave our laughter its resonance, and carried it still, joyously, over the intervening clamour.”
“I have a good mind not to take Aloysius to Venice. I don't want him to meet a lot of horrid Italian bears and pick up bad habits.”
“That was the change in her from ten years ago; that, indeed, was her reward, this haunting, magical sadness which spoke straight to the heart and struck silence; it was the completion of her beauty.”
“No one could really hate a saint, could they? They can't really hate God either. When they want to Hate Him and His saints they have to find something like themselves and pretends it's God and hate that.”
“But I was in search of love in those days, and I went full of curiosity and the faint, unrecognized apprehension that here, at last, I should find that low door in the wall, which others, I knew, had found before me, which opened on an enclosed and enchanted garden, which was somewhere, not overlooked by any window, in the heart of that grey city.”
“His heart; some long word at the heart. He is dying of a long word.”
“The langour of Youth - how unique and quintessential it is! How quickly, how irrecoverably, lost! The zest, the generous affections, the illusions, the despair, all the traditional attributes of Youth - all save this come and go with us through life...These things are a part of life itself; but languor - the relaxation of yet unwearied sinews, the mind sequestered and self-regarding, the sun standing still in the heavens and the earth throbbing to our own pulse - that belongs to Youth alone and dies with it.”
“...she had regained what I thought she had lost forever, the magical sadness which had drawn me to her, the thwarted look that had seemed to say, "Surely I was made for some other purpose than this?”
I found a box of this paper at the back of a bureau so I must write to you as I am mourning for my lost innocence. It never looked like living. The doctors despaired of it from the start...
I am never quite alone. Members of my family keep turning up and collecting luggage and going away again, but the white raspberries are ripe.
I have a good mind not to take Aloysius to Venice. I don't want him to meet a lot of horrid Italian bears and pick up bad habits.
Love or what you will.
“He did not fail in love, but he lost the joy of it [...]”
“But these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into the depths of confusion you didn't know existed.”
“I hate running."
He laughed. "You know what's the best part about running?"
“I swallow hard. She's right. But if something happens to her, I'll never forgive myself. "Then I'll let you go," I say, and lean forward to cut the bindings. "But... you owe me something first."
'And that is?" She's still staring up at the sky.
"A kiss" I say.
Her eyes never meet mine.
"Well?" I ask.
She nods and smiles, finally throwing me a stare that's as deadly as poison "You can kiss my ass, Zephyr James.”
“And the need to write it down overwhelms me and I step out of the shower, dripping and shivering.”
“When would it be my turn to truly know him? Fear answered: Never. You’ll never know him. You can’t hold on to a man like that.”
“Better you're my enemy and happy than my friend and miserable”
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