29+ quotes from Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe

Quotes from Look Homeward, Angel

Thomas Wolfe ·  644 pages

Rating: (11K votes)


“. . . a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces.

Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know our mother's face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.

Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father's heart? Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?

O waste of lost, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this weary, unbright cinder, lost! Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When?

O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into the nakedness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“The mountains were his masters. They rimmed in life. They were the cup of reality, beyond growth, beyond struggle and death. They were his absolute unity in the midst of eternal change.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“My dear, dear girl [. . .] we can't turn back the days that have gone. We can't turn life back to the hours when our lungs were sound, our blood hot, our bodies young. We are a flash of fire--a brain, a heart, a spirit. And we are three-cents-worth of lime and iron--which we cannot get back.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“O lost,
And by the wind grieved,
Ghost,
Come back again.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“A destiny that leads the English to the Dutch is strange enough; but one that leads from Epsom into Pennsylvania, and thence into the hills that shut in Altamont over the proud coral cry of the cock, and the soft stone smile of an angel, is touched by that dark miracle of chance which makes new magic in a dusty world.

Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into nakedness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas.

The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a Georgia slattern, because a London cutpurse went unhung. Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like flies, buzz home to death, and every moment is a window on all time.

This is a moment:”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“By God, I shall spend the rest of my life getting my heart back, healing and forgetting every scar you put upon me when I was a child. The first move I ever made, after the cradle, was to crawl for the door, and every move I have made since has been an effort to escape.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like flies, buzz home to death, and every moment is a window on all time.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“...he was like a man who stands upon a hill above the town he had left, yet does not say 'The town is near,' but turns his eyes upon the distant soaring ranges.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“And who shall say--whatever disenchantment follows--that we ever forget magic; or that we can ever betray, on this leaden earth, the apple-tree, the singing, and the gold?”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“he knew he would always be the sad one: caged in that little round of skull, imprisoned in that beating and most secret heart, his life must always walk down lonely passages.  Lost.  He understood that men were forever strangers to one another, that no one ever comes really to know any one,”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“Dull people filled him with terror.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“She was buried in his flesh. She throbbed in the beat of his pulses. She was wine in his blood, a music in his heart.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“Every moment is the fruit of forty thousand years.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“There is no happy land. There is no end to hunger.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“there's no need for algebra where two and two make five.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“The hills climbed sunward to the sun. ”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“In the morning they rose in a house pungent with breakfast cookery, and they sat at a smoking table loaded with brains and eggs, ham, hot biscuit, fried apples seething in their gummed syrups, honey, golden butter, fried steak, scalding coffee.  Or there were stacked batter-cakes, rum-colored molasses, fragrant brown sausages, a bowl of wet cherries, plums, fat juicy bacon, jam.  At the mid-day meal, they ate heavily: a huge hot roast of beef, fat buttered lima- beans, tender corn smoking on the cob, thick red slabs of sliced tomatoes, rough savory spinach, hot yellow corn-bread, flaky biscuits, a deep-dish peach and apple cobbler spiced with cinnamon, tender cabbage, deep glass dishes piled with preserved fruits-- cherries, pears, peaches.  At night they might eat fried steak, hot squares of grits fried in egg and butter, pork-chops, fish, young fried chicken.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“Fiction is not fact, but fiction is fact selected and understood, fiction is fact arranged and charged with purpose.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“Few of the university's sons had been distinguished in the nation's life--there had been an obscure President of the United States, and a few Cabinet members, but few had sought such distinction: it was glory enough to be a great man in one's State. Nothing beyond mattered very much.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“A stick is not only wood but the negation of wood. It is the meeting in space of wood and no-wood. A stick is finite and unextended wood, a fact determined by its own denial.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“Somewhere in the crowd a woman sobbed and collapsed in a faint. She was immediately carried out by two Boy Scouts who happened to be present, and who administered first aid to her in the rest-room, one of them hastily kindling a crackling fire of pine boughs by striking two flints together, while the other made a tourniquet, and tied several knots in his handkerchief.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“His life coiled back into the brown murk of the past like a twined filament of electric wire; he gave life, a pattern, and movement to these million sensations that Chance, the loss or gain of a moment, the turn of the head, the enormous and aimless impulsion of accident, had thrust into the blazing heat of him. His mind picked out in white living brightness these pinpoints of experience and the ghostliness of all things else became more awful because of them. So many of the sensations that returned to open haunting vistas of fantasy and imagining had been caught from a whirling landscape through the windows of the train.

And it was this that awed him — the weird combination of fixity and change, the terrible moment of immobility stamped with eternity in which, passing life at great speed, both the observer and the observed seem frozen in time. There was one moment of timeless suspension when the land did not move, the train did not move, the slattern in the doorway did not move, he did not move. It was as if God had lifted his baton sharply above the endless orchestration of the seas, and the eternal movement had stopped, suspended in the timeless architecture of the absolute. Or like those motion-pictures that describe the movements of a swimmer making a dive, or a horse taking a hedge — movement is petrified suddenly in mid-air, the inexorable completion of an act is arrested. Then, completing its parabola, the suspended body plops down into the pool. Only, these images that burnt in him existed without beginning or ending, without the essential structure of time. Fixed in no-time, the slattern vanished, fixed, without a moment of transition.

His sense of unreality came from time and movement, from imagining the woman, when the train had passed, as walking back into the house, lifting a kettle from the hearth embers. Thus life turned shadow, the living lights went ghost again. The boy among the calves. Where later? Where now?

I am, he thought, a part of all that I have touched and that has touched me, which, having for me no existence save that which I gave to it, became other than itself by being mixed with what I then was, and is now still otherwise, having fused with what I now am, which is itself a cumulation of what I have been becoming. Why here? Why there? Why now? Why then?

The fusion of the two strong egotisms, Eliza’s inbrooding and Gant’s expanding outward, made of him a fanatical zealot in the religion of Chance. Beyond all misuse, waste, pain, tragedy, death, confusion, unswerving necessity was on the rails; not a sparrow fell through the air but that its repercussion acted on his life, and the lonely light that fell upon the viscous and interminable seas at dawn awoke sea-changes washing life to him. The fish swam upward from the depth.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“McGuire's meaty shoulders recoiled burlily as if from the cold shock of water. ”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“Her lack of magnificence in a magnificent world”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“And his soul plunged downward, drowning in that deep pit: he felt that could never again escape from this smothering flood of pain and ugliness, from the eclipsing horror and pity of it all. And as he walked, he twisted his own neck about, and beat the air with his arm like a wing, as if he had received a blow in his kidneys. He felt that he might be clean and free if he could only escape into a single burning passion -- hard, and hot, and glittering -- of love, hatred, terror, or disgust. But he was caught, he was strangling, in the web of futility.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


“Eugene looked with passionate devotion at that grand old head, calm, wise and comforting. In a moment of vision, he saw that, for him, here was the last of those giants to whom we give the faith of our youth, believing like children that the riddle of our lives may be solved by their quiet judgment.”
― Thomas Wolfe, quote from Look Homeward, Angel


About the author

Thomas Wolfe
Born place: in Asheville, North Carolina, The United States
Born date October 3, 1900
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