Sunday, 27 June 2010

Notes from a notebook

I found some old notes of things I'd liked in books I'd read.

Here's a quotation from J. Stubb's ebullient Donne biography, about Ann Cockayne:
In 1616, not long after she gave birth to her youngest child, her husband Thomas had a crisis of commitment and left her, to pursue his lifelong dream of writing a Greek dictionary.

Jan Morris, Last Letters from Hav:
"We are intellectuals you see," Mahmoud bawled in my ear. "There is no subject that we cannot discuss, and all subjects make us angry."

G. Howells, Daughter of the Desert. Gertrude Bell on a mongoose she had been given by the Mayor of Baghdad's son:
It's a most attractive little beast. It sat in my hand this morning and ate fried eggs like a Christian.

I'm afraid I didn't note where I found the great Liselotte on Racine's Berenice's reaction to losing Titus:
All the howlings she sets up about this make me impatient.

And the excellent Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder:
There was something in Lima that was wrapped up in yards of violet satin from which protruded a great dropsical head and two fat pearly hands; and that was its archbishop.
...He had read all the literature of antiquity and forgotten all about it except a general aroma of charm and disillusion. He had been learned in the Fathers and the Councils and forgotten all about them save a floating impression of dissensions that had no application to Peru. He had read all the libertine masterpieces of Italy and France and re-read them annually; even in the torments of the stone (happily dissolved by drinking the water from the springs of Santa María de Cluxambuqua) he could find nothing more nourishing than the anecdotes of Brantôme and the divine Aretino.
... Like all the cultivated he believed that only the widely read could be said to know that they were unhappy.

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