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27+ quotes from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

Quotes from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

David Mitchell ·  479 pages

Rating: (44.5K votes)


“Gulls wheel through spokes of sunlight over gracious roofs and dowdy thatch, snatching entrails at the marketplace and escaping over cloistered gardens, spike topped walls and treble-bolted doors. Gulls alight on whitewashed gables, creaking pagodas and dung-ripe stables; circle over towers and cavernous bells and over hidden squares where urns of urine sit by covered wells, watched by mule-drivers, mules and wolf-snouted dogs, ignored by hunch-backed makers of clogs; gather speed up the stoned-in Nakashima River and fly beneath the arches of its bridges, glimpsed form kitchen doors, watched by farmers walking high, stony ridges. Gulls fly through clouds of steam from laundries' vats; over kites unthreading corpses of cats; over scholars glimpsing truth in fragile patterns; over bath-house adulterers, heartbroken slatterns; fishwives dismembering lobsters and crabs; their husbands gutting mackerel on slabs; woodcutters' sons sharpening axes; candle-makers, rolling waxes; flint-eyed officials milking taxes; etiolated lacquerers; mottle-skinned dyers; imprecise soothsayers; unblinking liars; weavers of mats; cutters of rushes; ink-lipped calligraphers dipping brushes; booksellers ruined by unsold books; ladies-in-waiting; tasters; dressers; filching page-boys; runny-nosed cooks; sunless attic nooks where seamstresses prick calloused fingers; limping malingerers; swineherds; swindlers; lip-chewed debtors rich in excuses; heard-it-all creditors tightening nooses; prisoners haunted by happier lives and ageing rakes by other men's wives; skeletal tutors goaded to fits; firemen-turned-looters when occasion permits; tongue-tied witnesses; purchased judges; mothers-in-law nurturing briars and grudges; apothecaries grinding powders with mortars; palanquins carrying not-yet-wed daughters; silent nuns; nine-year-old whores; the once-were-beautiful gnawed by sores; statues of Jizo anointed with posies; syphilitics sneezing through rotted-off noses; potters; barbers; hawkers of oil; tanners; cutlers; carters of night-soil; gate-keepers; bee-keepers; blacksmiths and drapers; torturers; wet-nurses; perjurers; cut-purses; the newborn; the growing; the strong-willed and pliant; the ailing; the dying; the weak and defiant; over the roof of a painter withdrawn first from the world, then his family, and down into a masterpiece that has, in the end, withdrawn from its creator; and around again, where their flight began, over the balcony of the Room of Last Chrysanthemum, where a puddle from last night's rain is evaporating; a puddle in which Magistrate Shiroyama observes the blurred reflections of gulls wheeling through spokes of sunlight. This world, he thinks, contains just one masterpiece, and that is itself.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“The truth of a myth...is not in its words but its patterns.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“The soul is a verb." He impales a lit candle on a spike. "Not a noun.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“Creation never ceased on the sixth evening, it occurs to the young man. Creation unfolds around us, despite us and through us at the speed of days and nights. And we call it love.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“So little is actually worthy of belief or disbelief. Better to strive to coexist than seek to disapprove . . .”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“If only,’ Shiroyama dreams, ‘human beings were not masks behind masks behind masks. If only this world was a clean board of lines and intersections. If only time was a sequence of considered moves and not a chaos of slippages and blunders.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“Creation unfolds, around us, despite us and through us, at the speed of days and nights, and we like to call it "love”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“This world, he thinks, contains just one masterpiece, and that is itself.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


Act, implores the Ghost of Future Regret. I shan't give you another chance.
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“The mind has a mind of its own. It shows us pictures. Pictures of the past and the might-one-day-be. This mind's mind exerts its own will, too, and has its own voice.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“How gleefully life shreds our well crafted plans.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“For white men, to live is to own, or to try to own more, or to die trying to own more. Their appetites are astonishing! They own wardrobes, slaves, carriages, houses, warehouses, and ships. They own ports, cities, plantations, valleys, mountains, chains of islands. They own this world, its jungles, its skies, and its seas. Yet they complain that Dejima is a prison. They complain they are not free.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“The soul is a verb. . . . Not a noun.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“The music provokes a sharp longing the music soothes.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“Act', implores the Ghost of Future Regret. 'I shan't give you another chance'. [and so Jacob does] 'Damned fool,' groans the Demon of Present Regret. 'What have you done?”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“Self pity, Orito reminds herself yet again, is a noose dangling from a rafter.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“Naming, thinks Jacob, even in ridicule, gives what is named substance.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“Don't let death, Jacob reproves himself, be your final thought.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“What man ain't the honestest cove in his own eyes?" Grote's round face is a bronze moon in the dark. "'Tain't good intentions what paves the road to hell: it's self-justifyin's.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“I could tell you a hundred things, thinks Jacob, and nothing at all.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“The rain's innumerable hooves spatter on the streets and roofs.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“The clock’s pendulum catches the firelight, and in the rattle-breathed final moments of Jacob de Zoet, amber shadows in the far corner coagulate into a woman’s form.
She slips between the bigger, taller onlookers unnoticed …
… and adjusts her headscarf, the better to hide her burn.
She places her cool palms on Jacob’s fever-glazed face.
Jacob sees himself, when he was young, in her narrow eyes.
Her lips touch the place between his eyebrows.
A well-waxed paper door slides open.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“We were, to quote the proverb,
"The one dog who barks at nothing answered by a thousand dogs barking at something...”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“I find a certain comfort," confesses Marinus, "in humanity's helplessness.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“Dust is gold in the light of dawn.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“Killing depends on circumstances, as you'd expect, whether it's a cold, planned murder, or a hot death in a fight, or inspired by honor or a more shameful motive. However many times you kill, though, it's the first that matters. It's a man's first blood that banishes him from the world of the ordinary.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


“Loyalty looks simple... but it ain't.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet


About the author

David Mitchell
Born place: in Southport, The United Kingdom
Born date January 12, 1969
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