Quotes from Classics

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What Came Before

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« on: May 14, 2013, 10:10:19 pm »
Quote from: Camlost
I was perusing http://www.rscottbakker.com and I noticed this:
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"A journey unlike any other you have experienced. Part Dante’s Inferno and part Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness, this is fantasy literature like you’ve never read before.”

–Blogcritics
It stood out to me because I read Heart of Darkness in the past month or so, and upon recognizing it it called to mind the following passage, which quickly became synonymous with the first book of Heart of Darkness to me.

"Droll thing life is--that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. the most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself--that comes too late--a crop of unextinguishable regrets. I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid scepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary. If such is the form of ultimate wisdom, then life is a greater riddle than some of us think it to be. I was within a hair's breadth of the last opportunity for pronouncement, and I found with humiliation that probably I would have nothing to say. This is the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a remarkable man. He had something to say. He said it. Since I had peeped over the edge myself, I understand better the meaning of his stare, that could not see the flame of the candle, but was wide enough to embrace the whole universe, piercing enough to penetrate all the hearts that beat in the darkness. He had summed up--he had judged. "The horror!" He was a remarkable man. After all, this was the expression of some sort of belief; it had candour, it had conviction, it had a vibrating note of revolt in its whisper, it had the appalling face of a glimpsed truth--the strange commingling of desire and hate. And it is not my own extremity I remember best--a vision of greyness without form filled with physical pain, and a careless contempt for the evanescence of all things--even of this pain itself. No! It is his extremity that I seem to have lived through. True, he had made that last stride, he had stepped over the edge, while I had been permitted to draw back my hesitating foot. And perhaps in this is the whole difference; perhaps all the wisdom, and all the truth, and all the sincerity, are just compressed into that inappreciable moment of time in which we step over the threshold of the invisible. Perhaps! I like to think my summing-up would not have been a word of careless contempt. Better his cry--much better. It was an affirmation, a moral victory paid for by innumerable defeats, by abominable terrors, by abominable satisfactions. But it was a victory!"

Are there any classics that you'd recommend? From those, are there any passages that stood out to you?

What Came Before

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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2013, 10:10:27 pm »
Quote from: Camlost
"There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness of living, come to the artists caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad on a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the good that was alive and fled swiftly before him through the moonlight. He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each seperate muscle, joint, and sinew all aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the starts and over the face of dead matter that did not move..."

From Call of the Wild by Jack London

What Came Before

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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2013, 10:10:33 pm »
Quote from: Curethan
Good stuff Camlost.  Can't think of any myself atm, but I know they are out there.

What Came Before

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« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2013, 10:11:41 pm »
Quote from: Camlost
Thanks Curethan

And another:

"It was a black and hooded head; and there in the midst of so intense a calm, it seemed the Sphynx's in the desert. 'Speak, thou vast and venerable head,' muttered Ahab, 'which, though ungarnished with a beard, yet here and there lookest hoary with mosses; speak, mighty head, and tell us the secret thing that is in thee. Of all the divers, thou has dived the deepest. That head upon which the upper sun now gleams, has moved amid the world's foundations. Where unrecorded names and navies rust, and untold hopes and anchors rot; where in her murderous hold this frigate earth is ballasted with bones of millions of the drowned; there, in that awful waterland, there was thy most familiar home. Thou hast been where the bell of diver never went; has slept by many a sailor's side, where sleepless mothers would give their lives to lay them down. Thou saw'st the locked lovers when leaping from their flaming ship; heart to heart they sank beneath the exulting wave; true to each other, when heaven seemed false to them. Thou saw'st the murdered mate when tossed by the pirates from the midnight deck; for hours he fell into the deeper midnight of the insatiate maw; and his murderers still sailed on unharmed --- while swift lightnings shivered the neighbouring ships that would have borne a righteous husband's outstretched, longing arms. O head! thou hast seen enough to split the planets and make an infidel of Abraham, and not on syllable is thine!"

From Moby Dick by Herman Melville

What Came Before

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« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2013, 10:11:57 pm »
Quote from: Soterion
"The tools, the art, the building – these things stand in judgement on the latter races.  Yet there is nothing for them to grapple with.  The old ones are gone like phantoms and the savages wander these canyons to the sound of an ancient laughter.  In their crude huts they crouch in darkness and listen to the fear seeping out of the rock.  All progressions from a higher to a lower order are marked by ruins and mystery and a residue of nameless rage.  So.  Here are the dead fathers."

~Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

What Came Before

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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2013, 10:12:02 pm »
Quote from: Camlost
I like that man, especially "All progressions from a higher to a lower order are marked by ruins and mystery". I might have to pick that up now

sciborg2

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« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2013, 03:52:48 am »
“Fat sheep and oxen you can steal; cooking pots and golden-maned horses you can buy; but once it has left the circle of his teeth, the life of a man can be neither replaced, nor stolen, nor bought.”
 -The Illiad
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sologdin

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« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2013, 06:46:00 pm »
<i>Puff puff, give. Puff puff, give. You fuckin' up the rotation.</i>

--James Joyce

SilentRoamer

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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2014, 08:37:19 am »
“Are you a storyteller, Thomas Covenant?"
Absently he replied, "I was, once."
"And you gave it up? Ah, that is as sad a tale in three words as any you might have told me. But a life without a tale is like a sea without salt. How do you live?"
... Unconsciously, he clenched his fist over his ring. "I live."
"Another?" Foamfollower returned. "In two words, a story sadder than the first. Say no more -- with one word you will make me weep.”
― Stephen R. Donaldson Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

One of my favourite series :)

Hiro

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« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2016, 04:54:08 pm »
From Titus Groan:

'Through daily proximity to the great slabs of stone, the faces of the Grey Scrubbers had become like slabs themselves. There was no expression whatever upon the eighteen faces, unless the lack of expression is in itself an expression. They were simply slabs that the Grey Scrubbers spoke from occasionally, stared from incessantly, heard with, hardly ever. They were traditionally deaf. The eyes were there, small and flat as coins, and the colour of the walls themselves, as though during the long hours of professional staring the grey stone had at last reflected itself indelibly once and for all. Yes, the eyes were there, thirty-six of them and the eighteen noses were there, and the lines of the mouths that resembled the harsh cracks that divided the stone slabs, they were there too. Although nothing physical was missing from any one of their eighteen faces yet it would be impossible to perceive the faintest sign of animation and, even if a basinful of their features had been shaken together anf if each feature had been picked out at random and stuck upon some dummy-head of wax at any capricious spot or angle, it would have made no difference, for even the most fantastic, the most ingenious of arrangements could not have tempted into life a design whose component parts were dead. In all, counting the ears, which on occasion may be monstrously expressive, the one hundred and eight features were unable, at the best of times, to muster between them, individually or taken en masse, the faintest shadow of anything that might hint at the workings of what lay beneath.'
Mystery denotes darkness

Hiro

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« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2016, 05:00:45 pm »
From Titus Groan:

'There was the history of man in his face. A fragment from the enormous rock of mankind. A leaf from the forest of man's passion and man's knowledge and man's pain. That was the ancientness of Titus.'
Mystery denotes darkness

Hiro

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« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2016, 05:01:57 pm »
Another one, a favorite, with an incredible apt use of metaphor:

'Whether the scouring, sexless eye of the bird or beast of prey disperses and sees all or concentrates and evades all saving that for which it searches, it is certain that the less powerful eye of the human cannot grasp, even after a life of training, a scene in its entirety. No eye may see dispassionately. There is no comprehension at a glance. Only the recognition of damsel, horse or fly and the assumption of damsel, horse or fly; and so with dreams and beyond, for what haunts the heart will, when it is found, leap foremost, blinding the eye and leaving the main of Life in darkness.
   When Steerpike began his scrutiny the roofscape was neither more nor less than a conglomeration of stone structures spreading to right and left and away from him. It was a mist of masonry. As he peered, taking each structure individually, he found that he was a spectator of a stationary gathering of stone personalities.'
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 05:12:12 pm by Hiro »
Mystery denotes darkness

Hiro

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« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2016, 05:04:29 pm »
I mean, with Peake, the quoting is endless, see here:

'The library appeared to spread outwards from him as from a core. His dejection infeced the air about him and diffused its illness upon every side. All things in the long room absorbed his melancholia. The shadowing galleries brooded with slow anguish; the books receding into the deep corners, tier upon tier, seemed each a separate tragic note in a monumental fugue of volumes.
[…]
No doubt the unsatisfactory marriage had added to his native depression, but compared with the dull forest of his inherent melancholy it was but a tree from a foreign region that had been transplanted and absorbed.'
Mystery denotes darkness

Redeagl

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« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2016, 05:06:05 pm »
"Love is lust made meaningful.Hope is hunger made human." from The Third Analytic of men.What?  isn't it a classic?   :P
“The thoughts of all men arise from the darkness. If you are the movement of your soul, and the cause of that movement precedes you, then how could you ever call your thoughts your own? How could you be anything other than a slave to the darkness that comes before?”

- Chronicler of the Chroniclers

Hiro

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« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2016, 05:06:49 pm »
One more:

'Glorious,' said Steerpike, 'is a dictionary word. We are all imprisoned by the dictionary. We choose out of that vast, paper-walled prison our convicts, the little black printed words, when in truth we need fresh sounds to utter, new enfranchised noises which would produce a new effect. In dead and shackled language, my dears, you are glorious, but oh, to give vent to a brand new sound that might convince you of what I really think of you, as you sit there in your purple splendour, side by side! But no, life it is impossible. Life is too fleet for onomatopoeia. Dead words defy me. I can make no sound, dear ladies, that is apt.'
   'You could try,' said Clarice. 'We aren't busy.'
Mystery denotes darkness