Many moons ago, I did a post listing a few of my favorite quotes from Shakespeare. I thought the time was ripe for listing a few of my all time favourite quotes from English literature. This list is by no means exhaustive. It is also in no particular order.
- “Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
- “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- “Nobody even imagines how well one can lie about the state of one’s own heart.” – Thirst for Love by Yukio Mishima
- “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.” -A Girl I Knew by J. D. Salinger.
- “We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered.” -Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard.
- “I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.” -The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
- “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” –Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.
- “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” –Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.
- “We accept the love we think we deserve.” –The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
- “He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.” –Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
- “You and I, it’s as though we have been taught to kiss in heaven and sent down to earth together, to see if we know what we were taught.” –Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.
- This one is an entire passage. I suppose I could have edited it to select just a sentence, but I didn’t want to.
“Waste forces within him, and a desert all around, this man stood still on his way across a silent terrace, and saw for a moment, lying in the wilderness before him, a mirage of honourable ambition, self-denial, and perseverance. In the fair city of this vision, there were airy galleries from which the loves and graces looked upon him, gardens in which the fruits of life hung ripening, waters of Hope that sparkled in his sight. A moment, and it was gone. Climbing to a high chamber in a well of houses, he threw himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed, and its pillow was wet with wasted tears.
Sadly, sadly, the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities and good emotions, incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigning himself to let it eat him away.” A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens