Singapore Expats Forum

My favorite literary passage

Discuss about the latest news & interesting topics, real life experience or other out of topic discussions with locals & expatriates in Singapore.

User avatar
YF
Regular
Regular
Posts: 84
Joined: Mon, 18 Jul 2005
Location: New Haven
Contact:

My favorite literary passage

Postby YF » Tue, 30 Aug 2005 7:50 am

Since we seem to have a well educated group of people here I thought I would post my favorite literary passage. It is from Goethe's "The Sufferings of Young Werther" -- it is quite powerful. He (Werther) is recounting a tragic story to his friend. This is the Morgan translation which is certianly the best one.

When I first read this I was going through a broken heart (many years ago) this passage in particular seemed to capture everything I felt -- I must have read it 1000 times. Although it may seem depressing, reading it somehow gave me much needed company at the time. I knew I was not the only one who had felt like this--surely Goethe had felt this as well.

Enjoy:

"A young, good creature who had grown up in the narrow round of domestic occupation, definite weekly chores, who had no other prospect of pleasure than perhaps to go strolling about the town with her companions on a Sunday, in finery that she had acquired little by little, perhaps to go dancing when the chief holidays came around, and for the rest to spend an occasional hour, with all the vivacity of sincere interest in chatting with a neighbor woman about some quarrel, some bit of evil gossip--whose ardent nature at last feels some more tender needs, which are increased by the flatteries of men; her previous pleasures gradually lose their savor for her, until finally she meets a man to whom she is irresistibly drawn by an unfamiliar emotion, on who she pins all her hopes, forgetting the world around her, and hears nothing, sees nothing, feels nothing but him, the only one, yearns for only him, the only one. Not spoiled by the empty diversions of an inconstant vanity, her desire goes straight to the point: she wants to become his, to find in a lasting union all the happiness that she lacks, to taste in one concentration all thee joys for which she has longed. Repeated promises that put the seal on the certainty of all her hopes, bold caress which heighten her desires, encompass her whole soul; she is afloat in a vague awareness, in a foretaste of all joys, her tension attains the highest peak, at last she stretches out her arms to embrace all she has wished for--and her beloved forsakes her. -- Paralyzed, without sensation, she sees herself before an abyss; all is darkness about her, no prospects, no consolation, no hope! for he has forsaken her in whom alone she felt her existence to be. She does not see the wide world that lies before her, nor the many souls who might make up her loss; she feels herself alone, forsaken by everyone--and blindly driven, into a corner by the fearful affliction of her heart, she flings herself down, to stifle all her torments in one all embracing death."

Bubbs

Postby Bubbs » Tue, 30 Aug 2005 6:08 pm

Dark and forbidding, but beautiful. Well, what do you expect from this genius?

I like the rather twee...............'Reader, I married him..........'
at the end of Jane Eyre....

Sorry, but it is a girl thing......

Talking about dark and brooding romances there is no book like Wuthering Heights for the pure madness of love......Heathcliffe is so insane with it and it becomes his life, the anger, hatred and longing.

Hard to read and not get down about, but no book has that feel of hopelessness and despair that losing your life's love does.

Well, I think so anyway.

dot dot dot
Manager
Manager
Posts: 2308
Joined: Thu, 21 Oct 2004

Postby dot dot dot » Tue, 30 Aug 2005 6:28 pm

One of my favorites, the writer/poet Rainer Maria Rilke:

about Love:

"Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over, and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate-?); it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world for himself in another's sake."
-Letters to a Young Poet


About reality:

"I live not in dreams but in contemplation of a reality that is perhaps the future."
-Selected Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke


Eric

User avatar
banana
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue, 24 May 2005

Postby banana » Tue, 30 Aug 2005 7:56 pm

" Ms October loves water sports and slurpees. With her founding years in a convent school, she says she is very comfortable with other women. Her dreams include winning the World Jelly Wrestling Championship and star in her own movie. She has already achieved Best Beer Wench Award at her local sporting club."
some signatures are more equal than others

locallass
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 253
Joined: Fri, 19 Aug 2005

Postby locallass » Tue, 30 Aug 2005 11:31 pm

Hi 5 Bubbs- l love love love Wuthering Heights too!!!

A selection of my favourite passages:

"...he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire."

"My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees - my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath - a source of little visible delight, but necessary."

"If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it...Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being."

"Kiss me again, but don't let me see your eyes! I forgive what you have done to me. I love my murderer--but yours! How can I?"

"You said I killed you - haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!"

I like Charlotte Bronte but prefer Villette over Jan Eyre. Have you read that yet?

User avatar
banana
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue, 24 May 2005

Postby banana » Tue, 30 Aug 2005 11:57 pm

Geez, tough crowd tonight.

On a more sombre note:

Go, and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me, where all past years are,
Or who cleft the Devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'est born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear
Nowhere
Lives a woman true, and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet,
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

-John Donne, 1572 - 1631
some signatures are more equal than others

User avatar
Wind In My Hair
Manager
Manager
Posts: 2306
Joined: Tue, 19 Jul 2005

Re: My favorite literary passage

Postby Wind In My Hair » Wed, 31 Aug 2005 12:00 am

YF wrote:When I first read this I was going through a broken heart (many years ago) this passage in particular seemed to capture everything I felt -- I must have read it 1000 times. Although it may seem depressing, reading it somehow gave me much needed company at the time. I knew I was not the only one who had felt like this--surely Goethe had felt this as well.


who was it who said, "we read to know we're not alone"? i have wept so many times reading passages that spoke to my heart, that spoke of the essence of life, that told me i was not alone.

i don't collect prose though, but i do collect short quotes and poetry. a poem isn't technically a passage but it is literary :-k , so i'm not sure if this counts. it came into my life at a time when i was seeking meaning, and reminded me that just being alive was awesome in itself.


It is something to have wept as we wept
And something to have done as we have done
It is something to have watched when all have slept
And seen the stars which never see the sun

It is something to have smelt the mystic rose
Watching it break and leave the thorny rods
It is something to have hungered once as those
Hunger who ate the bread of gods

To have known the things that from the weak are furled
The fearful ancient passions, strange and high
It is something to be wiser than the world
And something to be older than the sky

Lo and blessed are our ears for they have heard
Yea blessed are our eyes for they have seen
Let the thunder break on human, beast and bird
And lightning. It is something to have been.

- Gilbert K Chesterton

Bubbs

Postby Bubbs » Wed, 31 Aug 2005 6:38 am

There are some truly beautiful offerings on this thread. Please, please you dreadful 'guest' do not ruin this thread with your flaming. It is a lovely one and surely cannot offend even you, whoever you are.

Locallass, I love that part of the book, which is rightly one of the most quoted passages. It speaks to you of his hopelessness and madness at his loss. Even if you have never loved and lost as he did, you become him, and know his blackness.

He is one of the most charismatic, soulful and soulless figures in literature I think. He is a dream part for any actor to play, as is Cathy.

Many years ago, Cliff Richard (yes he who is the old singer) wanted to, and did, I think, finance a stage musical of Wuthering Heights. I was appauled and so were many people. I'm sure Cliff's a nice guy, but to have Heathcliff SINGING....and to have CLIFF RICHARD playing him was almost treason.

Heathcliff needs to be dark with mad black brooding eyes. Tall and slim, but not thin, arrogant and hateful and dour. But someone you can relate to anyway, even though you wish him to be haunted forever. I cannot think at the moment who would be perfect to play him as he is such a 'large' character.

Bubbs

Postby Bubbs » Wed, 31 Aug 2005 6:52 am

The only book I've ever read which made me physically sob was 'I Dreamed Of Africa' by Kuki Gallman.

It is not a patch on the film, if you've seen it, and almost made me take up my pen and write to her. She is a brave and fantastic woman.

The part which made me upset was when she held her young teenage son in her arms as he was dying from a snakebite and he says, 'Mamma, mi mouro' (sic) (It may not have been that spelling, but similar words, I read this book many years ago) Which must mean, in Italian, 'Mother, I'm dying'....it sounds very sickly til you realise that this is a true story.

The film did the book no favours and I advise people to read it. Also, a book by Patrick Suskind called Perfume, which is weird beyond belief but has some of the most beautiful descriptions of smells and perfume making, it's incredible how someone can be so damned clever with words.

Anyway, I could go on and on and on about books and poetry etc, but that's enough from me I think...well, for the moment anyway.

locallass
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 253
Joined: Fri, 19 Aug 2005

Postby locallass » Wed, 31 Aug 2005 9:21 pm

John Donne- an interesting poet, well known for his Metaphysical conceits. But personally, I find him too intellectual to be a love poet. For sure, the ideas on love he throws about are fun. But his love poems never have the raw emotional power that his religious poems do. Ironical isn't it? His sacred poems are more heartbreaking than his secular ones.

If I were to pick something representative of Donne, it would be:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

locallass
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 253
Joined: Fri, 19 Aug 2005

Postby locallass » Wed, 31 Aug 2005 9:34 pm

Bubbs wrote:Heathcliff needs to be dark with mad black brooding eyes. Tall and slim, but not thin, arrogant and hateful and dour. But someone you can relate to anyway, even though you wish him to be haunted forever. I cannot think at the moment who would be perfect to play him as he is such a 'large' character.


My idea of Heathcliff is a raw elemental force, wild as the typhoon, and just as uncontrollable. In other words, the perfect Gothic hero. I can't for the life of me see Cliff Richards as Heathcliff either, unless we're talking about the cartoon cat :lol:

You know, it's interesting that despite the high passions between Catherine and Heathcliff, their love is asexual. The two do not kiss in dark corners or arrange secret trysts, as adulterers do. But they talk all the time about how essential the other is to their innermost being. I think every girl who has read the book dreams of finding a man who's "more me than myself'. Including me :lol:

User avatar
banana
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue, 24 May 2005

Postby banana » Wed, 31 Aug 2005 9:34 pm

A man expressing stronger love for God than pussy? Ironic wouldn't be the word I'd use.

Holy Sonnets XIV is beyond my knowledge of Donne. The passage came from the opening of Neil Gaiman's Stardust. :P
some signatures are more equal than others

locallass
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 253
Joined: Fri, 19 Aug 2005

Postby locallass » Wed, 31 Aug 2005 9:37 pm

Bubbs wrote:The only book I've ever read which made me physically sob was 'I Dreamed Of Africa' by Kuki Gallman.

It is not a patch on the film, if you've seen it, and almost made me take up my pen and write to her. She is a brave and fantastic woman.

The part which made me upset was when she held her young teenage son in her arms as he was dying from a snakebite and he says, 'Mamma, mi mouro' (sic) (It may not have been that spelling, but similar words, I read this book many years ago) Which must mean, in Italian, 'Mother, I'm dying'....it sounds very sickly til you realise that this is a true story.

The film did the book no favours and I advise people to read it. Also, a book by Patrick Suskind called Perfume, which is weird beyond belief but has some of the most beautiful descriptions of smells and perfume making, it's incredible how someone can be so damned clever with words.

Anyway, I could go on and on and on about books and poetry etc, but that's enough from me I think...well, for the moment anyway.


Interesting recommendations. Rob, is it okay if we sidetrack and talk about books we enjoyed the most instead? I don't think it's possible to narrow down on a single passage when it comes to a great book because we'd spoilt for choice.

locallass
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 253
Joined: Fri, 19 Aug 2005

Postby locallass » Wed, 31 Aug 2005 9:51 pm

banana wrote:A man expressing stronger love for God than pussy? Ironic wouldn't be the word I'd use.

Holy Sonnets XIV is beyond my knowledge of Donne. The passage came from the opening of Neil Gaiman's Stardust. :P


So there's where it came from! I'm not religious but trust me on this, you're not done with Donne till you've finished his Holy Sonnets :lol:

User avatar
banana
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue, 24 May 2005

Postby banana » Wed, 31 Aug 2005 10:42 pm

locallass wrote:So there's where it came from! I'm not religious but trust me on this, you're not done with Donne till you've finished his Holy Sonnets :lol:


Trust me, finding another man's God is not my idea of release.
some signatures are more equal than others


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “General Discussions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests