The Midwich Cuckoos

Midwich Cuckoos CoverKnowledge itself is power…but none of…knowledge is of the least use until it is informed by understanding. Knowledge is simply a kind of fuel; it needs the motor of understanding to convert it into power”

John Wyndham, The Midwich Cuckoos [1957: 176].

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Victor Hugo – Notre-Dame de Paris

The Hunchback of Notre Dame CoverEach face, each stone, of this venerable monument, is a page of the history, not only of the country, but of the science and the art” (Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame [1831: 110]).

It was a singular destiny…for the church of Notre-Dame, at that period, to be thus beloved in two different ways, and with so much devotion, by two beings so unlike as Claude and Quasimodo – loved by the one, a sort of half-human creature, instinctive and savage, for its beauty, for its stature, for the harmonies dwelling in the magnificent whole; loved by the other, a being of cultivated and ardent imagination, for its signification, its mystic meaning, the symbolic language lurking under the sculpture on its front, like the first text under the second in a palimpsestus – in short, for the enigma which it eternally proposes to the understanding” (Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame [1831: 155]). 

Mark Twain

Autobiography of Mark TwainWhat a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is lead in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, and every day, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, (which are but the mute articulation of his feelings,) not those other things are his history. His acts and his words are merely the visible thin crust of his world, with its scattered snow summits and its vacant wastes of water-and they are so trifling a part of his bulk! a mere skin enveloping it. The mass of him is hidden-it and its volcanic fires that toss and boil, and never rest, night nor day. These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be written” [Mark Twain, 1907, The Autobiography of Mark Twain]. 

A Room with a View

A Room with a View PosterHe is already part of you. Though you fly to Greece, and never see him again, or forget his very name, George will work in your thoughts till you die. It isn’t possible to love and to part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal

E.M. Forster, A Room with a View [1908].

The Age of Innocence

The Age of InnocenceHe was not sure that he wanted to see the Countess Olenska again; but ever since he had looked at her from the path above the bay he had wanted, irrationally and indescribably, to see the place she was living in, and to follow the movements of her imagined figure…The longing was with him day and night, an incessant undefinable craving, like the sudden whim of a sick man for food and drink once tasted and long since forgotten. He could not see beyond the craving, or picture what it might lead to…He simply felt that if he could carry away the vision of the spot of earth she walked on…the rest of the world might seem less empty” [Edith Wharton, 1920: 191].

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

My dear fellow“, said Sherlock Holmes…”life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Adventures), A Case of Identity, 1924/2009 Ed.: 174).

The Great Stories

“…the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably…They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in…You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t…[in them] you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again. That is their mystery and their magic” (Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things, 1997: 229).