30+ quotes from The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen

Quotes from The Death of the Heart

Elizabeth Bowen ·  418 pages

Rating: (5.3K votes)


“Darling, I don't want you; I've got no place for you; I only want what you give. I don't want the whole of anyone.... What you want is the whole of me-isn't it, isn't it?-and the whole of me isn't there for anybody. In that full sense you want me I don't exist.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“A romantic man often feels more uplifted with two women than with one: his love seems to hit the ideal mark somewhere between two different faces.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“She walked about with the rather fated expression you see in photographs of girls who have subsequently been murdered, but nothing had so far happened to her.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“The innocent are so few that two of them seldom meet-when they do meet, their victims lie strewn all round.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“Pity the selfishness of lovers: it is brief, a forlorn hope; it is impossible.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“One's sentiments -- call them that -- one's fidelities are so instinctive that one hardly knows they exist: only when they are betrayed or, worse still, when one betrays them does one realize their power.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“It is not our exalted feelings, it is our sentiments that build the necessary home. The need to attach themselves makes wandering people strike roots in a day: wherever we unconsciously feel, we live.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“The happy passive nature, locked up with itself like a mirror in an airy room, reflects what goes on but demands not to be approached.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“Some people are moulded by their aspirations, others by their hostilities.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“Darling, I don’t want you; I’ve got no place for you; I only want what you give. I don’t want the whole of anyone…What you want is the whole of me — isn't it, isn't it? — and the whole of me isn't there for anybody. In that full sense you want me I don’t exist.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“She posed as being more indolent than she felt, for fear of finding herself less able than she could wish.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“Looking back at a repetition of empty days, one sees that monuments have sprung up. Habit is not mere subjugation, it is a tender tie: when one remembers habit it seems to have been happiness.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“Makes of men date, like makes of cars...”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“The furniture would have missed you?

Furniture's knowing all right. Not much gets past the things in a room, I daresay, and chairs and tables don't go to the grave so soon. Every time I take the soft cloth to that stuff in the drawingroom, I could say, 'Well, you know a bit more'.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“The belt slid down her thin hips, and she nervously gripped at it, pulling it up. Short sleeves showed her very thin arms and big delicate elbow joints. Her body was all concave and jerkily fluid lines; it moved with sensitive looseness, loosely threaded together: each movement had a touch of exaggeration , as though some secret power kept springing out.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“The heart may think it knows better: the senses know that absence blots people out.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“But there's no end to what's been said, and I'll be a party to nothing. I was born with my mouth shut:those with their mouths open do nothing but start trouble and catch flies.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“After inside upheavals, it is important to fix on imperturbable things. Their imperturbableness, their air that nothing has happened renews our guarantee. Pictures would not be hung plumb over the centres of fireplaces or wallpapers pasted on with such precision that their seams make no break in the pattern if life were really not possible to adjudicate for. These things are what we mean when we speak of civilization: they remind us how exceedingly seldom the unseemly or unforeseeable rears its head. In this sense, the destruction of buildings and furniture is more palpably dreadful to the spirit than the destruction of human life.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“It seemed to her that while people were very happy, individual persons were surely damned. So, she shrank from that specious mystery the individual throws about himself, from Anna's smiles, from Lilian's tomorrows, from the shut-in room, the turned-in heart.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“Are you really an orphan?

Yes, I am, said Portia a shade shortly. Are you?

No, not at present, but I suppose it's a thing one is bound to be.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“Innocence so constantly finds itself in a false position that inwardly innocent people learn to be disingenuous. Finding no language to speak in their own terms they resign themselves to being translated imperfectly. They exist alone; when they try and enter into relations they compromise falsifyingly- through anxiety, through desire to impart and to feel warmth. The system of our affections is too corrupt for them. They are bound to blunder, then to be told they cheat...Their singleness, their ruthlessness, their one continuous wish makes them bound to be cruel, and to suffer cruelty.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“Sacrificers,” said Matchett, “are not the ones to pity. The ones to pity are those that they sacrifice”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“The most we can hope is to go on getting away with it till the others get it away from us”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“the senses bound our feeling world: there is an abrupt break where their power stops”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“We desert those who desert us; we cannot afford to suffer; we must live how we can”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“For people who live on expectations, to face up to their realisation is something of an ordeal. Expectations are the most perilous form of dream, and when dreams do realise themselves it is in the waking world: the difference is subtly but often painfully felt”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“Did Anna also, sometimes not know what to do next? Because she knew what to do next, because she knew what to laugh at, what to say, did it always follow that she knew where to turn? Inside everyone, is there an anxious person who stands to hesitate in an empty room?”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“In a library in a staid South Coast resort of retirees ”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“Some of my ideas get enlarged almost before I have them.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


“The happy passive nature, locked up with itself like a mirror in an airy room, reflects what goes on but demands not to be approached. A pact with life, a pact of immunity, appears to exist-But this pact is not respected for ever- a street accident, an overheard quarrel, a certain note in a voice, a face coming too close, a tree being blown down, someone's unjust fate- the peace tears right across.”
― Elizabeth Bowen, quote from The Death of the Heart


About the author

Elizabeth Bowen
Born place: in Dublin, Ireland
Born date June 7, 1899
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