Sentencing


On Facebook last night, I was presented with yet another link to one of those lists, this one the “greatest sentences in all of literature.” It was interesting, and lead me to compile a list of some of my personal favorite sentences or passages from literature.  I’m not as well read as I should be, as you will be able to tell from my selections, and these aren’t all the greatest sentences, some of them are just cool opening lines that have stuck with me, and others were passages I remembered liking that I had to look up to get right, while a handful of them I remembered verbatim. Anyway, this should make for a pleasant diversion from the usual drivel I post here.  I’d be interested in some favorite sentences or passages anyone reading this might have, so feel free to leave comments.   Here goes:

All this happened, more or less.  – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

I’ve wanted life to be easy for you. Easier’n ’twas for me. A man’s heart aches, seein’ his young uns face the world. Knowin’ they got to git their guts tore out, the way his was tore. I wanted to spare you, long as I could. I wanted you to frolic with your yearlin’. I knowed the lonesomeness he eased for you. But ever’ man’s lonesome. What’s he to do then? What’s he to do when he gits knocked down? Why, take it for his share and go on.   – Marjorie Kinan Rawlings, The Yearling (this passage was so important to me I built a key scene in my novel Ojibway Valley around it) 

I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire…I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools. –  William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

“She would have been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life”  – Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find

Nick’s heart tightened as the trout moved.  He felt all the old feeling.  – Ernest Hemingway, Big Two Hearted River

 And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an æsthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.  – F.Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: “All right then, I’ll go to hell”—and tore it up.   – Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

But we could hear her, because she began just after we came up out of the ditch, the sound that was not singing and not unsinging. “Who will do our washing now, Father?” I said.   –  William Faulkner, That Evening Sun

Rented a tent, rented a tent, rented a rented a rented a tent.  – Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

I stood by and held the door for him, and my best friend walked right past me, just like that, leading the way out and into the wet, wrecked night. – Patricia Ann McNair, Just Like That, from The Temple of Air

The light of a firefly is the size of a teardrop.  We cannot defeat the cosmic wind.  We are not magnificent.  But, by God, we try. – Michael Perry, Visiting Tom

I get the willies when I see closed doors.  – Joseph Heller, Something Happened

This was her, Mick Kelly, walking in the daytime and by herself at night. In the hot sun and in the dark with all the plans and feelings. This music was her—the real plain her. This music did not take a long time or a short time. It did not have anything to do with time going by at all. She sat with her arms around her legs, biting her salty knee very hard. The whole world was this symphony, and there was not enough of her to listen… Now that it was over there was only her heart beating like a rabbit and this terrible hurt. – Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter 

It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed.  Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. You had only to rise, lean from your window, and know that this indeed was the first real time of freedom and living, this was the first morning of summer.  – Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.
This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad in a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight.  – Jack London, The Call of the Wild

How wrong Emily Dickinson was!   Hope is not “the thing with feathers.”  The thing with feathers has turned out to be my nephew.  I must take him to a specialist in Zurich  –  Woody Allen, Selections From the Allen Notebooks

 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Sentencing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s