Archive for the ‘Favorite Passages’ Category

A Good Book

A good book is an education of the heart.  It enlarges your sense of human possibility what human nature is of what happens in the world.  It’s a creator of inwardness.

~ Susan Sontag, born on this day in 1933


“Literary Pursuits of a Young Lady” by Alexei Harlamoff

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We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity, and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.


~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce


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Welcome, old aspirations, glittering creatures of an ardent fancy, to your shelter underneath the holly!  We know you, and have not outlived you yet.  Welcome, old projects and old loves, however fleeting, to your nooks among the steadier lights that burn around us.  Welcome, all that was ever real to our hearts; and for the earnestness that made you real […].  Welcome, everything!  Welcome, alike what has been, and what never was, and what we hope may be, to your shelter underneath the holly, to your places round the Christmas fire, where what is sits openhearted!


~ Charles Dickens, “What Christmas Is As We Grow Older”


Marcel Rieder, 1898

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Suddenly it seemed to him that he had reached the end of the road, that ahead of him, blocking the way, was a wall with a sign on it saying, STOP, ABYSS, and then he saw that he could not go back, that the road he had traveled had disappeared.


~ Jose Saramago, The Double


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For Love

She was bored.  She loved, had capacity to love, for love, to give and accept love.  Only she tried twice and failed twice to find somebody not just strong enough to deserve it, earn it, match it, but even brave enough to accept it.


~ From The Town by William Faulkner, born on this day in 1897


“Solitude” by Frederic Leighton, 1890


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About his picture, which now stood on his easel, he had one judgement in the depths of his soul—that no one had ever painted such a picture.  He did not think that his painting was better than any of Raphael’s, but he knew that what he wanted to convey and did convey in this picture no one had ever conveyed before.  He knew that firmly and had known it for a long time, from the very moment he had begun painting it; nevertheless people’s opinions, whatever they might be, were of great importance for him […].  Every observation, however insignificant, which showed that the judges saw at least a small part of what he saw in this picture, stirred him to the bottom of his soul.  He always ascribed to his judges a greater depth of understanding than he himself had, and expected something from them that he himself did not see in his picture.


~ From Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, born on this day in 1828


“De Jonge Schilder” (“The Young Painter”) by Pierre Joseph Toussaint, between 1850 and 1888

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Night after night, summer and winter, the torment of storms, the arrow-like stillness of fine weather, held their court without interference.  Listening (had there been anyone to listen) from the upper rooms of the empty house only gigantic chaos streaked with lightning could have been heard tumbling and tossing, as the winds and waves disported themselves like the amorphous bulks of leviathans whose brows are pierced by no light of reason, and mounted one on top of another, and lunged and plunged in the darkness or the daylight (for night and day, month and year ran shapelessly together) in idiot games, until it seemed as if the universe were battling and tumbling, in brute confusion and wanton lust aimlessly by itself.


~ Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse


The Nividic Lighthouse at Ouessant Island (Finistère, France) by Samuel Lamotte d’Incamps, 2005

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