“Our truest responsibility to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find the truth.” ~Madeleine L’Engle

 

I have always loved to read, and yet some books I’ve read linger in my memory long after I’ve turned the last page. Why? I’m not exactly sure, but that the language tucks under my tongue and the story and protagonist move in ways that long intrigue me. Since it’s January and the dead of winter here in Prague, and since I choose to spend much of my free time reading by the fire (it’s really dark in Europe right now!), I’m posting quotes from 10 favorite classic works.

The Treasure of Old Books, Strahov Monastery, Prague

The Treasure of Old Books, Strahov Monastery, Prague

 

“A Christmas frost had come at midsummer; a white December storm had whirled over June; ice glazed the ripe apples, drifts crushed the blowing roses; on hayfield and cornfield lay a frozen shroud: lanes which last night blushed full of flowers, to-day were pathless with untrodden snow; and the woods, which twelve hours since waved leafy and flagrant as groves between the tropics, now spread, waste, wild, and white as pine-forests in wintry Norway.”
– Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,

Sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments

Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices

That, if I then had waked after long sleep,

Will make me sleep again. And then, in dreaming,

The clouds methought would open and show riches

Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked

I cried to dream again.

-William Shakespeare, The Tempest

 

“It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened.” – Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

 

“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions… but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself.  The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”  ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

 

“Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend, will keep the dogs obedient to the whip, as long as this roof shuts out the sky.’” ~Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

 

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

 

“On a cold windswept street, this was a warm, cheerful place with a big stove in winter, tables and shelves of books, new books in the window, and photographs on the wall of famous writers both dead and living. The photographs all looked like snapshots and even the dead writers looked as though they had really been alive.”
-Ernest Hemingway,  A Moveable Feast

 

“All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick. He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.” ~Herman Melville, Moby Dick

 

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” ~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

 

“The huge green fragment of ice on which she alighted pitched and creaked as her weight came on it, but she staid there not a moment. With wild cries and desperate energy she leaped to another and still another cake;–stumbling–leaping–slipping–springing upwards again! Her shoes are gone–her stocking cut from her feet–while blood marked every step; but she saw nothing, felt nothing, till dimly, as in a dream, she saw the Ohio side, and a man helping her up the bank.”
~Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

 

For you: Do you have a favorite quote from Literature? From a favorite novel? What is it? Feel free to post your quote or novel title in the comments. Thanks for sharing!

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