Michel Faber · 835 pages
Rating: (32.2K votes)
“A single day spent doing things which fail to nourish the soul is a day stolen, mutilated, and discarded in the gutter of destiny.”
“Participating in Society in not a thing one can do naturally; one has to rehearse for it.”
“History indulges strange whims in the way it dresses its women.”
“Why are there such long words in the world, Miss?’ enquires Sophie, when the mineralogy lesson is over.
‘One long difficult word is the same as a whole sentence full of short easy ones, Sophie,’ says Sugar. ‘It saves time and paper.’ Seeing that the child is unconvinced, she adds, ‘If books were written in such a way that every person, no matter how young, could understand everything in them, they would be enormously long books. Would you wish to read a book that was a thousand pages long, Sophie?’
Sophie answers without hesitation.
‘I would read a thousand million pages, Miss, if all the words were words I could understand.”
“Isn't Heaven reward enough, without needing to see the damned punished?”
“Sugar leans her chin against the knuckles of the hand that holds the pen. Glistening on the page between her silk-shrouded elbows lies an unfinished sentence. The heroine of her novel has just slashed the throat of a man. The problem is how, precisely, the blood will flow. Flow is too gentle a word; spill implies carelessness; spurt is out of the question because she has used the word already, in another context, a few lines earlier. Pour out implies that the man has some control over the matter, which he most emphatically doesn’t; leak is too feeble for the savagery of the injury she has inflicted upon him. Sugar closes her eyes and watches, in the lurid theatre of her mind, the blood issue from the slit neck. When Mrs Castaway’s warning bell sounds, she jerks in surprise.
Hastily, she scrutinises her bedroom. Everything is neat and tidy. All her papers are hidden away, except for this single sheet on her writing-desk.
Spew, she writes, having finally been given, by tardy Providence, the needful word.”
“Yes, seven years old she was, when she finally plucked up the courage to ask her mother what Christmas was all about, and Mrs Castaway replied (once only, after which the subject was forever forbidden): ‘It’s the day Jesus Christ died for our sins. Evidently unsuccessfully, since we’re still paying for them.”
“Sunlight is bad,' he wheezes. 'It's the exact same stuff as breeds maggots in wounded soldiers' legs. And when there's no war on, it fades wallpaper.”
“She holds her head as high as if she were beautiful, and holds her body as if she were strong.”
“A truly modern man, William Rackham is what might be called a superstitious atheist Christian; that is, he believes in a God who, while He may no longer be responsible for the sun rising, the saving of the Queen or the provision of daily bread, is still the prime suspect when anything goes wrong.”
“Few know what year it is, or even that eighteen and a half centuries are supposed to have passed since a Jewish troublemaker was hauled away to the gallows for disturbing the peace”
“Because I must do something while I still can. Each soul is still incalculably precious.”
“This is a street where the weaker souls crawl into bed as soon as the sun sets and lie awake listening to the rats.”
“...to her, all familiar responses smell of entrapment. Sharing an old joke, singing an old song - these are admissions of defeat, of being satisfied with one's lot. In the sky, the Fates are watching, and when they hear such things, they murmur amongst themselves: Ah yes, that one is quite content as she is; changing her lot would only confuse her.”
“God damn God and all His horrible filthy Creation.”
“All along the street, keys rattle in key-holes as each shop's ornate metal clothing is stripped away...It's as if, having unlocked the chastity of shutters and doors, they can't see the point in maintaining any shred of modesty.”
“Sugar understood the permanence of being Sugar or Lotty or Lucy or whoever you might be, trapped on a square of card to be shown at will to strangers. Whatever violations she routinely submits to in the privacy of bedroom, they vanish the moment they're over, half-forgotten with the drying of sweat. But to be chemically fixed in time and passed hand to hand forever: that is a nakedness which can never be clothed again”
“if she were its leader. Not that she ever would be: she was born to be a dissenter within a larger certainty, she knows that.”
“She sings on and on, while the house is discreetly dusted all around her and, in the concealed and subterranean kitchen, a naked duck, limp and faintly steaming, spreads its pimpled legs on a draining board.”
“William Rackham es lo que podríamos llamar un cristiano ateo supersticioso; es decir, cree en un Dios que si bien puede que ya no sea responsable de que salga el sol, de salvar a la reina o de proveer del pan de cada día, sigue siendo el principal sospechoso cuando algo va mal.”
“A simple fuck is one thing, but let a man sleep with you just once and he thinks he can bring his dog and his pigeons.”
“God, Agnes has decided, is an Anglican, whereas Our Lady is of the True Faith; the two of Them have an uneasy relationship, unable to agree on anything, except that if They divorce, the Devil will leap gleefully into the breach. So, They tolerate each other, and take care of the world as best They can. Moving”
“Un solo día dedicado a cosas que no alimentan el espíritu es un día robado, mutilado y arrojado a la alcantarilla del destino.”
“William pouts irritably. Socialism is not the same thing as letting one’s servants muddle towards anarchy. But never mind, never mind: on a day like today, it’s not worth worrying over. Soon the servant question, at least in William Rackham’s household, will be resolved beyond any ambiguity.”
“The opulence of Bedford Square and the British Museum may be only a few hundred yards away, but New Oxford Street runs between there and here like a river too wide to swim, and you are on the wrong side.”
“Our Lady is of the True Faith; the two of Them have an uneasy relationship, unable to agree on anything, except that if They divorce, the Devil will leap gleefully into the breach.”
“Era un hombre de muchos planes, pero de poco fruto.”
“But to be chemically fixed in time and passed hand to hand forever: that is a nakedness which can never be clothed again.”
“La curiosidad es el nombre despectivo que los hombres dan a la sed de conocimiento que tienen las mujeres.”
“Memories had painful edges that could still cut.”
“I watch her duck into the building, a cavern in my chest so huge, I'm sure my next breath will flip me inside out.”
“[...] no slaves down here, all that abstraction torn away like skin coming off a body, and these were people -- human fucking beings, each with the one life he was given, and this was the life they had.”
“One must be cunning and wicked in this world.”
“...aspirava a uma paz que só a inocência na solidão pode proporcionar, a paz de um solitário inocente, que não abandonou nem traiu ninguém para estar só, um solitário que se conserva à margem do sangue e do sofrimento, sem que lhe possam ser pedidas contas.”
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