Monday, January 26, 2009

Nabokov on Standards

I am very eager to debunk Dostoevsky. But I realize that readers who haven't read much may be puzzled by the set of values implied.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Barnes: Flaubert's Parrot train image

[Narrator G. Braithwaite speaking of Mauriac]
He finds himself by looking in the works of others...Reading his 'memoirs' is like meeting a man on a train who says, 'Don't look at me, that's misleading. If you want to know what I'm like, wait until we're in a tunnel, and then study my reflection in the window.' You wait, and look, and catch a face against a shifting background of sooty walls, cables and sudden brickwork. The transparent shape flickers and jumps always a few feet away. You become accustomed to its existence, you move with its movements; and though you know its presence is conditional, you feel it to be permanent. Then there is a wail from ahead, a roar and a burst of light; the face is gone forever.

(p96 in Flaubert's Parrot, Julian Barnes - an otherwise forgettable book)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) - Memorable quotes

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004):

"[Mary reads to Dr. Mierzwiak out of 'Bartlett's Familiar Quotations'; the lines are from Alexander Pope's poem 'Eloisa to Abelard']

Mary: How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! / The world forgetting, by the world forgot / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! / Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

West: The Day of the Locust III

He was carried through the exit to the back street and lifted into a police car. The siren began to scream and at first he thought he was making the noise himself. He felt his lips with his hands. They were clamped tight. He knew then it was the siren. For some reason this made him laugh and he began to imitate the siren as loud as he could.

(p185, The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West)

West: The Day of the Locust II

Tod went into the living room to see how Homer was getting on. He was still on the couch, but had changed his position. He had curled his big body into a ball. His knees were drawn up almost to his chin, his elbows were tucked in close and his hands were against his chest. But he wasn't relaxed. Some inner force of nerve and muscle was straining to make the ball tighter and still tighter. He was like a steel spring which has been freed of its function in a machine and allowed to use all its strength centripetally. While part of a machine the pull of the spring had been used against other and stronger forces, but now, free at last, it was striving to attain the shape of its original coil.

(p171, The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West)

West: The Day of the Locust

Tod whistled with amazement.
"Some gal!"
"You bet," said the dwarf. "A lollapalooza--all slut and a yard wide."

(p63, The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West)