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Thread: Examples of perfect prose

  1. #16
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    I'd like to take the opportunity to ask what exactly prose is for anyone who would be kind enough to perhaps provide a simpler answer than I have found in reference books, etc.

    My impression is that prose is the very physics of a statement- prose is how well the statement is construed, how flowing it may be or perhaps just the contrary, but granted- this is my own assumption and these tend to stray too far from the reality of things.

    So is prose just that, also what makes for perfect prose, and is that something that is dictated more so by the movement in literature?

    thanks for any help

  2. #17
    Asa Nisi Masa mayneverhave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waryan View Post
    I'd like to take the opportunity to ask what exactly prose is for anyone who would be kind enough to perhaps provide a simpler answer than I have found in reference books, etc.

    My impression is that prose is the very physics of a statement- prose is how well the statement is construed, how flowing it may be or perhaps just the contrary, but granted- this is my own assumption and these tend to stray too far from the reality of things.

    So is prose just that, also what makes for perfect prose, and is that something that is dictated more so by the movement in literature?

    thanks for any help
    Prose is not a measure of how well the sentences fit together - there is good prose and bad prose.

    In the purest sense, prose is what verse is not - language that resembles regular speech - i.e. not aligned to fit a certain metrical structure.

  3. #18
    Registered User tractatus's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Nice thread, i follow frequently.

    I want to repeat an ex post, want you to see something better than Joyce.
    Comes from Cabrera Infante.

    Tea cantate, Coffee concerto, Mate hymn :

    Coffee is a sexual stimulant. Tea is intellectual. Mate is the bitter primitive residue of a hungover dawn in New York circa 1955. (I am speaking for myself and also for you, Silvestre. I don't care what the scientists say. For this reason my example should be seen as both personal and remote.)

    A coffee sipped on the corner of 12th and 23rd, at dawn, or just before, the morning wind from the Malecon still on my face, stinging my senses and the speed (the thing about speed that is so intoxicating is that it turns a physical action into a metaphysical experience: speed turns time into space -I, Silvestre, told him that the movies turn space into time and Cue answered, That is another experience that physics cannot comprehend-), the speed, I myself, buffeted head-on and in profile by this dawn wind, exhaustion and an empty stomach making you conscious of your body, with that beauteous lucidity of insomnia after a night session cutting endless bars of soap operas, cut in your mind, it is then that a coffee -- a simple coffee costing three centavos -- a strong black coffee drunk when El Flaco, that long thin shadow, leaves his night shift, after scandalizing the workers going early to their work, the nightwalkers, the exhausted night watchment, the night whores standing drenched in dew and sperm, all these, all this fauna of the night zoo you find at the gates of the Colon cemetery, all these people hit by his Tchaikovsky his Prokoviev his Stravinsky (and let his megamelomania go as far as Webern and Schonberg and -but, my God, they'd lynch him!- Edgar Varese), names which El Flaco, flaccidly, would hardly be able to pronounce, playing them on 23rd and 12th (and note that 23 and 12 make 35 and 3 and 5 make 8 while the sums of 2 and 3 and 1 and 2 respectively make 5 and 3, which also make 8: this street corner is perpetually condemned to traffic with the dead: 8 means death in charada, as you know: this explains why the cemetary being on 12th and Zapata, a very long block away from 12th and 23rd, 23rd and 12th is a common synonym in Havana for cemetary), playing them on that pitiful portable phonograph of his which scratches all his records -- this half cup of water and aroma and blackness is transformed (in me) into an urgent need to go in search, Eribo of the actresses, of them, call them N or M or M or N, or whatever her name is, call on them, on her, and wake her from her dreams of scenic grandeur and what with her heavy somnolence and my keen-edged wakefulness and the tumescent heat of this eternal summer's morning, to make love to make love to make love to, her to make to.

    Tea always makes me work, think, want to get things done -intellectually-, that is.

    There must be some scientific explanation, something connected with excitation of the lobes or the circulation of the blood or what the phrenologists would call a perfusion under the cranial cortex and also with the titillation, out of sympathy, of the solar plexus. But I don't want to admit it, I don't want to have anything to do with it, I don't want to know this hypothesis. Don't tell me, Silvestre. Please, no. Ay! Que no queiro saberla!
    "an artist never really finishes his work, he merely abandons it." paul valery

  4. #19
    Registered User idiosynchrissy's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    From Finnegan's Wake:

    And it's old and old it's sad and old it's sad and weary I go back to you, my cold father, my cold mad father, my cold mad feary father, till the near sight of the mere size of him, the moyles and moyles of it, moananoaning, makes me seasilt saltsick and I rush, my only, into your arms. I see them rising!

  5. #20
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    if nobody speaks of remarkable things: jon mcgregor

    He listens to the sound of the television from the front room, his daughter is watching, there are young people talking about music and football, he hears his daughterís voice behind him and she says daddy have you ever seen any angels?
    He pauses, his face squeezing into a slight frown, he wonders what his daughter is thinking of. He turns and he says I see you every day, and he squeezes a parpytongue onto her forehead. She wriggles away and says yuk and says no I mean real angels, and she skips onto the garden path and stands on one leg, looking at him, waiting for answers.
    He shrugs slowly, he says anything is possible and smiles. Her eyes widen and she says have you have you? He looks at her and remembers the moment she was born, the nurse holding her up in the air like treasure lifted dripping from the sea, he remembers the long silent pause before that first scream of arrival, her tiny face screwed up into wet wrinkles like the stone of a peach.
    He says angels? He says I do not know, I do not think so but I will keep looking. He says have you been looking? and she turns away and she nods shyly.
    He says hey hey now donít be ashame, it is okay to be looking for these things, it is good okay? and she looks at him.
    He says what have you seen? and she doesnít say anything, she stands a little closer and she says I saw wings in the sky at the top of the sky.
    He says well that is a special thing, you have seen more than I have ever seen, well done you, and she smiles and her face is like the ribbon pulled from the wrapping of a gift.
    He says do you want to see another special thing, and he points to the rooftop opposite, he says can you clap your hands for your daddy, and when she does so the whole ridgepole of pigeons springs up into the air, ballooning off down the street as a group, circling, landing on another rooftop in a matching single line.
    He says, do you see them now, do you see they do not bump into one another, do you think this is special? and she looks at him and she thinks she should nod so she does.
    He says you know in the place where you were born in, and he does not say back home because he does not want her to think like that but that is what he means, back home when they were a family and they belonged, he says in the place where you were born in there would be flocks of thousands of bird, gathering at dusk, and when they turned in mid-air the whole sky would go dark as though Allah was flipping the shutters closed for a second. And not any of those thousands collided he says, do you think this is special?
    He says my daughter, and all the love he has is wrapped up in the tone of his voice when he says those two words, he says my daughter you must always look with both of your eyes and listen with both of your ears. He says this is a very big world and there are many things you could miss if you are not careful. He says there are remarkable things all the time, right in front of us, but our eyes have like the clouds over the sun and our lives are paler and poorer if we do not see them for what they are.
    He says, if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?
    He looks at her and he knows she doesnít understand, he doesnít think sheíll even remember to understand when she is older. But he tells her these things all the same, it is good to say them aloud, they are things people do not think and he wants to place them into the air.
    Angels, he says and she leans forward as if she is expecting him to pass on a secret. do not know about angels he says, perhaps there are many, perhaps they are here now he says, and she looks around and stands closer to him and he smiles. But there are people too he says, everywhere there are people and I think it is easier to hold hands with people than it is with angels, yes?
    He stops to get his breath back, he knows he is confusing her and maybe boring her, he knows that really he is saying these things to himself.
    He says Iím sorry I am talking too much, he says come and give your daddy a hug, and she presses into him and he clamps his arms around her.
    Now go and play again he says, the rain has gone, go and find your friend and keep looking for angels he says.
    She stands away from him, she turns away, she turns back and kisses him on the mouth and she runs away down the street.
    She runs past a rain-jewelled spiderís web laid out like lace across a pile of coat hangers in a front garden.
    She runs past a pigeon in a puddle, beating water across its wings.
    She runs past number eighteen and she sees the boy who lives there talking to the girl from two doors down, she has short hair and glasses and she is smiling politely and he is blinking a lot and not quite looking at her as he says so youíre moving out then, and the armful of air between them is heavy and thick and impenetrable.
    She runs past the old man from the next house along, he is standing in his front garden and the sound of his breathing is as though someone were forcing air through a cracked harmonica.
    She runs past the young man scrubbing his trainers, he still canít get them clean and he slams his hand into the water in frustration, the bubbles lifting up into the air and drifting down like diamond confetti.
    She runs across the road towards a woman leaning out of an attic window, hanging out a red blanket, shaking it like an air-traffic signal, she runs past the man at number twenty-five, he is back up his ladder, retouching the paint where the rain has streaked through it, a twirl of movement catches his eye and he turns to look through the open window of next-doorís bedroom, he sees a boy and a girl, they boy is sleeping, they are both naked and tangled up in each other, the light in the room is clean and golden and happiness is seeping through the window, the girl looks at him and smiles and whispers good afternoon.
    And the young girl runs to the end of the street and she still canít see her friend with the ribbon anywhere, she looks up and she sees a crane arching over the rooftops.
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  6. #21
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    May 2008
    What about the "Play for Voices" of Under Milk Wood? I know Thomas was a poet, and the language is very poetical, but it is a drama/prose, so enjoy:

    To begin at the beginning:
    It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine tonight in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.
    Hush, the babies are sleeping, the farmers, the fishers, the tradesmen and pensioners, cobbler, schoolteacher, postman and publican, the undertaker and the fancy woman, drunkard, dressmaker, preacher, policeman, the webfoot cocklewomen and the tidy wives. Young girls lie bedded soft or glide in their dreams, with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glow-worms down the aisles of the organplaying wood. The boys are dreaming wicked or of the bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrodgered sea. And the anthracite statues of the horses sleep in the fields, and the cows in the byres, and the dogs in the wetnosed yards; and the cats nap in the slant corners or lope sly, streaking and needling, on the one cloud of the roofs.
    You can hear the dew falling, and the hushed town breathing. Only your eyes are unclosed, to see the black and folded town fast, and slow, asleep. And you alone can hear the invisible starfall, the darkest-before-dawn minutely dewgrazed stir of the black, dab-filled sea where the Arethusa, the Curlew and the Skylark, Zanzibar, Rhiannon, the Rover, the Cormorant, and the Star of Wales tilt and ride.
    Listen. It is night moving in the streets, the processional salt slow musical wind in Coronation Street and Cockle Row, it is the grass growing on Llareggub Hill, dew fall, star fall, the sleep of birds in Milk Wood.
    Listen. It is night in the chill, squat chapel, hymning, in bonnet and brooch and bombazine black, butterfly choker and bootlace bow, coughing like nannygoats, sucking mintoes, fortywinking hallelujah; night in the four-ale, quiet as a domino; in Ocky Milkman's loft like a mouse with gloves; in Dai Bread's bakery flying like black flour. It is tonight in Donkey Street, trotting silent, with seaweed on its hooves, along the cockled cobbles, past curtained fernpot, text and trinket, harmonium, holy dresser, watercolours done by hand, china dog and rosy tin teacaddy. It is night neddying among the snuggeries of babies.
    Look. It is night, dumbly, royally winding through the Coronation cherry trees; going through the graveyard of Bethesda with winds gloved and folded, and dew doffed; tumbling by the Sailors Arms.
    Time passes. Listen. Time passes.
    Come closer now.
    Only you can hear the houses sleeping in the streets in the slow deep salt and silent black, bandaged night. Only you can see, in the blinded bedrooms, the coms and petticoats over the chairs, the jugs and basins, the glasses of teeth, Thou Shalt Not on the wall, and the yellowing dickybird-watching pictures of the dead. Only you can hear and see, behind the eyes of the sleepers, the movements and countries and mazes and colours and dismays and rainbows and tunes and wishes and flight and fall and despairs and big seas of their dreams.
    From where you are, you can hear their dreams.
    Captain Cat, the retired blind sea-captain, asleep in his bunk in the seashelled, ship-in-bottled, shipshape best cabin of Schooner House dreams of .....

    Imagine the beautiful voice of Richard Burton reading it. Heaven.

  7. #22
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    Joseph Conrad, opening of "The Secret Sharer":

    "On my right hand there were lines of fishing stakes
    resembling a mysterious system of half-submerged bamboo
    fences, incomprehensible in its division of the
    domain of tropical fishes, and crazy of aspect as if abandoned
    forever by some nomad tribe of fishermen now
    gone to the other end of the ocean; for there was no sign
    of human habitation as far as the eye could reach. To
    the left a group of barren islets, suggesting ruins of stone
    walls, towers, and blockhouses, had its foundations set in
    a blue sea that itself looked solid, so still and stable did it
    lie below my feet; even the track of light from the westering
    sun shone smoothly, without that animated glitter
    which tells of an imperceptible ripple. And when I turned
    my head to take a parting glance at the tug which had
    just left us anchored outside the bar, I saw the straight
    line of the flat shore joined to the stable sea, edge to
    edge, with a perfect and unmarked closeness, in one leveled
    floor half brown, half blue under the enormous
    dome of the sky. Corresponding in their insignificance to
    the islets of the sea, two small clumps of trees, one on
    each side of the only fault in the impeccable joint,
    marked the mouth of the river Meinam we had just left
    on the first preparatory stage of our homeward journey;
    and, far back on the inland level, a larger and loftier
    mass, the grove surrounding the great Paknam pagoda,
    was the only thing on which the eye could rest from the
    vain task of exploring the monotonous sweep of the horizon.
    Here and there gleams as of a few scattered pieces
    of silver marked the windings of the great river; and on
    the nearest of them, just within the bar, the tug steaming
    right into the land became lost to my sight, hull and funnel
    and masts, as though the impassive earth had swallowed
    her up without an effort, without a tremor. My eye
    followed the light cloud of her smoke, now here, now
    there, above the plain, according to the devious curves of
    the stream, but always fainter and farther away, till I lost
    it at last behind the miter-shaped hill of the great
    pagoda. And then I was left alone with my ship, anchored
    at the head of the Gulf of Siam."

  8. #23
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Yes, society must go on; it must breed, like rabbits. That is what we are here for. But then, I don't like society — much. I am that absurd figure, an American millionaire, who has bought one of the ancient haunts of English peace. I sit here, in Edward's gun-room, all day and all day in a house that is absolutely quiet. No one visits me, for I visit no one. No one is interested in me, for I have no interests. In twenty minutes or so I shall walk down to the village, beneath my own oaks, alongside my own clumps of gorse, to get the American mail. My tenants, the village boys and the tradesmen will touch their hats to me. So life peters out. I shall return to dine and Nancy will sit opposite me with the old nurse standing behind her. Enigmatic, silent, utterly well-behaved as far as her knife and fork go, Nancy will stare in front of her with the blue eyes that have over them strained, stretched brows. Once, or perhaps twice, during the meal her knife and fork will be suspended in mid-air as if she were trying to think of something that she had forgotten. Then she will say that she believes in an Omnipotent Deity or she will utter the one word "shuttle-cocks", perhaps. It is very extraordinary to see the perfect flush of health on her cheeks, to see the lustre of her coiled black hair, the poise of the head upon the neck, the grace of the white hands — and to think that it all means nothing — that it is a picture without a meaning. Yes, it is queer.

  9. #24
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Oh! thou clear spirit of clear fire, whom on these seas I as Persian
    once did worship, till in the sacramental act so burned by thee, that
    to this hour I bear the scar; I now know thee, thou clear spirit, and
    I now know that thy right worship is defiance. To neither love nor
    reverence wilt thou be kind; and e'en for hate thou canst but kill;
    and all are killed. No fearless fool now fronts thee. I own thy
    speechless, placeless power; but to the last gasp of my earthquake
    life will dispute its unconditional, unintegral mastery in me. In the
    midst of the personified impersonal, a personality stands here.
    Though but a point at best; whencesoe'er I came; wheresoe'er I go;
    yet while I earthly live, the queenly personality lives in me, and
    feels her royal rights. But war is pain, and hate is woe. Come in
    thy lowest form of love, and I will kneel and kiss thee; but at thy
    highest, come as mere supernal power; and though thou launchest
    navies of full-freighted worlds, there's that in here that still
    remains indifferent. Oh, thou clear spirit, of thy fire thou madest
    me, and like a true child of fire, I breathe it back to thee."


    "I own thy speechless, placeless power; said I not so? Nor was it
    wrung from me; nor do I now drop these links. Thou canst blind; but
    I can then grope. Thou canst consume; but I can then be ashes. Take
    the homage of these poor eyes, and shutter-hands. I would not take
    it. The lightning flashes through my skull; mine eye-balls ache and
    ache; my whole beaten brain seems as beheaded, and rolling on some
    stunning ground. Oh, oh! Yet blindfold, yet will I talk to thee.
    Light though thou be, thou leapest out of darkness; but I am darkness
    leaping out of light, leaping out of thee! The javelins cease; open
    eyes; see, or not? There burn the flames! Oh, thou magnanimous! now
    I do glory in my genealogy. But thou art but my fiery father; my
    sweet mother, I know not. Oh, cruel! what hast thou done with her?
    There lies my puzzle; but thine is greater. Thou knowest not how
    came ye, hence callest thyself unbegotten; certainly knowest not thy
    beginning, hence callest thyself unbegun. I know that of me, which
    thou knowest not of thyself, oh, thou omnipotent. There is some
    unsuffusing thing beyond thee, thou clear spirit, to whom all thy
    eternity is but time, all thy creativeness mechanical. Through thee,
    thy flaming self, my scorched eyes do dimly see it. Oh, thou
    foundling fire, thou hermit immemorial, thou too hast thy
    incommunicable riddle, thy unparticipated grief. Here again with
    haughty agony, I read my sire. Leap! leap up, and lick the sky! I
    leap with thee; I burn with thee; would fain be welded with thee;
    defyingly I worship thee!"

    Herman Melville- Moby Dick
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
    My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil

  10. #25
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Joyce's Finnegan's Wake is unquestionably one of the most challenging books ever... but one might first approach it just to appreciate the absolutely bravura manner is which Joyce dismantles and reconstructs the English language as we know it. Here we have portions from Finnegan's actual wake:

    Bygmester Finnegan, of the Stuttering Hand, freemen's mau-
    rer, lived in the broadest way immarginable in his rushlit toofar-
    back for messuages before joshuan judges had given us numbers
    or Helviticus committed deuteronomy (one yeastyday he sternely
    struxk his tete in a tub for to watsch the future of his fates but ere
    he swiftly stook it out again, by the might of moses, the very wat-
    er was eviparated and all the guenneses had met their exodus so
    that ought to show you what a pentschanjeuchy chap he was!)...

    ...Sobs they sighdid at Fillagain's
    chrissormiss wake, all the hoolivans of the nation, prostrated in
    their consternation and their duodisimally profusive plethora of
    ululation. There was plumbs and grumes and cheriffs and citherers
    and raiders and cinemen too. And the all gianed in with the shout-
    most shoviality. Agog and magog and the round of them agrog.
    To the continuation of that celebration until Hanandhunigan's
    extermination! Some in kinkin corass, more, kankan keening.
    Belling him up and filling him down. He's stiff but he's steady is
    Priam Olim! 'Twas he was the dacent gaylabouring youth. Sharpen
    his pillowscone, tap up his bier! E'erawhere in this whorl would ye
    hear sich a din again? With their deepbrow fundigs and the dusty
    fidelios. They laid him brawdawn alanglast bed. With a bockalips
    of finisky fore his feet. And a barrowload of guenesis hoer his head.
    Tee the tootal of the fluid hang the twoddle of the fuddled, O!...

    ...And all the way (a horn!) from fiord to fjell his baywinds' oboboes shall wail him -rockbound (hoahoahoah!) in swimswamswum and all the livvy-long night, the delldale dalppling night, the night of bluerybells, her flittaflute in tricky trochees (O carina! O carina!) wake him. With her issavan essavans and her patterjackmartins about all them inns and ouses. Tilling a teel of a tum, telling a toll of a teary turty Taubling. Grace before Glutton. For what we are, gifs a gross if we are, about to believe. So pool the begg and pass the kish for crawsake. Omen.

    The closing monologue... Anna Livia Plurabelle's death scene... is one of the finest passages (part of which was quoted above) and while it comes to what appears to be but a sudden ending, it actually continues in the opening of the entire book... reinforcing Joyce's notion of the cyclical nature of time... history... life. The phrase Commodius vicus in fact refers to Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), who put forward a theory of cyclical history.

    Yes, you're changing, sonhusband, and
    you're turning, I can feel you, for a daughterwife from the hills
    again. Imlamaya. And she is coming. Swimming in my hindmoist.
    Diveltaking on me tail. Just a whisk brisk sly spry spink spank
    sprint of a thing theresomere, saultering. Saltarella come to her
    own. I pity your oldself I was used to. Now a younger's there.
    Try not to part! Be happy, dear ones! May I be wrong! For she'll
    be sweet for you as I was sweet when I came down out of me
    mother. My great blue bedroom, the air so quiet, scarce a cloud.
    In peace and silence. I could have stayed up there for always only.
    It's something fails us. First we feel. Then we fall. And let her rain
    now if she likes. Gently or strongly as she likes. Anyway let her
    rain for my time is come. I done me best when I was let. Think-
    ing always if I go all goes. A hundred cares, a tithe of troubles and
    is there one who understands me? One in a thousand of years of
    the nights? All me life I have been lived among them but now
    they are becoming lothed to me. And I am lothing their little
    warm tricks. And lothing their mean cosy turns. And all the
    greedy gushes out through their small souls. And all the lazy
    leaks down over their brash bodies. How small it's all! And me
    letting on to meself always. And lilting on all the time. I thought
    you were all glittering with the noblest of carriage. You're only
    a bumpkin. I thought you the great in all things, in guilt and in
    glory. You're but a puny. Home! My people were not their sort
    out beyond there so far as I can. For all the bold and bad and
    bleary they are blamed, the seahags. No! Nor for all our wild
    dances in all their wild din. I can seen meself among them, alla-
    niuvia pulchrabelled. How she was handsome, the wild Amazia,
    when she would seize to my other breast! And what is she weird,
    haughty Niluna, that she will snatch from my ownest hair! For
    'tis they are the stormies. Ho hang! Hang ho! And the clash of
    our cries till we spring to be free. Auravoles, they says, never heed
    of your name! But I'm loothing them that's here and all I lothe.
    Loonely in me loneness. For all their faults. I am passing out. O
    bitter ending! I'll slip away before they're up. They'll never see.
    Nor know. Nor miss me. And it's old and old it's sad and old it's
    sad and weary I go back to you, my cold father, my cold mad
    father, my cold mad feary father, till the near sight of the mere
    size of him, the moyles and moyles of it, moananoaning, makes me
    seasilt saltsick and I rush, my only, into your arms. I see them
    rising! Save me from those therrble prongs! Two more. Onetwo
    moremens more. So. Avelaval. My leaves have drifted from me.
    All. But one clings still. I'll bear it on me. To remind me of. Lff!
    So soft this morning, ours. Yes. Carry me along, taddy, like you
    done through the toy fair! If I seen him bearing down on me now
    under whitespread wings like he'd come from Arkangels, I sink
    I'd die down over his feet, humbly dumbly, only to washup. Yes,
    tid. There's where. First. We pass through grass behush the bush
    to. Whish! A gull. Gulls. Far calls. Coming, far! End here. Us
    then. Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlhee, mememormee! Till thous-
    endsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given! A way a lone a last a loved a
    long the...

    riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend
    of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to
    Howth Castle and Environs.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
    My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil

  11. #26
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    what's parpytongue?

  12. #27
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    Bill was loony with time-travel and morphine. He delivered himself to a barbed-wire fence
    which snagged him in a dozen places. Billy tried to back away from it but the barbs
    wouldn't let go. So Billy did a silly little dance with the fence, taking a step this way,
    then that way, then returning to the beginning again.
    A Russian, himself out in the night to take a leak, saw Billy dancing-from the other
    side of the fence. He came over to the curious scarecrow, tried to talk with it gently,
    asked it what country it was from. The scarecrow paid no attention, went on dancing. So
    the Russian undid the snags one by one, and the scarecrow danced off into the night
    again without a word of thanks.
    The Russian waved to him, and called after him in Russian, 'Good-bye.'

    From Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five".

  13. #28
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Unfortunately I don't have the book in english here, but I would definitely like to quote the "Restaurant" part from the first chapter of Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain". It's simply stunning.

    Later, when I have more time, I'll look up something else, hopefully in english.

    Oh, and also, you absolutely need take a look at the ending of the episode with "Alcide" in Cťline's "Voyage ŗ bout de la nuit". The one about his secret niece in France. Wonderful. Moving. Perfect.

  14. #29
    Registered User Desolation's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Portland, OR
    From Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer;

    "The weather will continue to be bad, he says. There will be more calamities, more death, more despair. Not the slightest indication of a change anywhere. The cancer of time is eating us away. Our heroes have killed themselves, or are killing themselves. The hero, then, is not time, but Timelessness. We must get in step, a lock step towards the prison of death. There is no escape. The weather will not change.

    "It is now the fall of my second year in Paris. I was sent here for a reason I have not yet been able to fathom..
    I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive. A year, six months ago, I thought that I was an artist. I no longer think about it, I am. Everything that was literature has fallen from me. There are no more books to be written, thank God."

  15. #30
    Pirate! Katy North's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Blog Entries
    Excellent thread.

    When I read this passage from "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" I was overwhelmed. I think it depicts perfectly the concept of unmarred beauty:

    A girl stood before him in midstream, alone and still, gazing out to sea. She seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful seabird. Her long slender bare legs were delicate as a crane's and pure save where an emerald trail of seaweed had fashioned itself as a sign upon the flesh. Her thighs, fuller and softhued as ivy, were bared almost to the hips where the white fringes of her drawers were like featherings of soft white down. Her slateblue skirts were kilted boldly about her waist and dovetailed behind her. her bosom was as a bird's soft and slight, slight and soft as the breast of some darkplumaged dove. But her long fair hair was girlish: and girlish, and touched with the wonder of mortal beauty, her face.

    She was alone and still, gazing out to the sea; and when she felt his presence and the worship of his eyes her eyes turned to him in quiet sufferance of his gaze, without shame or wantonness. Long, long she suffered his gaze, and then quietly withdrew her eyes from his and bent toward the stream, gently stirring the water with her foot hither and thither. The first faint noise of gently moving water broke the silence, low and faint and whispering, faint as the bells of sleep; hither and thither, hither and thither: and a faint flame trembled on her cheek.

    Also, I love this gem from "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead"

    Rosencrantz: Did you ever think of yourself as actually dead, lying in a box with a lid on it?
    Guildenstern: No.
    Rosencrantz: Nor do I, really. It's silly to be depressed by it. I mean, one thinks of it like being alive in a box. One keeps forgetting to take into account the fact that one is dead, which should make all the difference, shouldn't it? I mean, you'd never *know* you were in a box, would you? It would be just like you were asleep in a box. Not that I'd like to sleep in a box, mind you. Not without any air. You'd wake up dead for a start, and then where would you be? In a box. That's the bit I don't like, frankly. That's why I don't think of it. Because you'd be helpless, wouldn't you? Stuffed in a box like that. I mean, you'd be in there forever, even taking into account the fact that you're dead. It isn't a pleasant thought. Especially if you're dead, really. Ask yourself, if I asked you straight off, "I'm going to stuff you in this box. Now, would you rather be alive or dead?" naturally, you'd prefer to be alive. Life in a box is better than no life at all, I expect. You'd have a chance, at least. You could lie there thinking, "Well, at least I'm not dead. In a minute somebody is going to bang on the lid, and tell me to come out."
    Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all. ~Emily Dickinson

    I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders. ~Jewish Proverb

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