Monday, 24 January 2011

...of a statue

The late lamented Odintsov disliked innovations, but he was not averse to what he called 'a certain play of elevated taste' and as a consequence of this had erected in his garden, between the greenhouse and the pond, a structure resembling a Grecian portico built of Russian brick. In the rear wall of the portico or gallery six niches had been made for statues which Odintsov had intended to order from abroad. These statues were to have represented Solitariness, Silence, Contemplation, Melancholy, Modesty and Sensitivity. One of them, the Goddess of Silence, with a finger to her lips, had actually been delivered and set in place, but on the very same day little boys from the manor house had knocked off the nose and, although a local plasterer had undertaken to give her a nose 'twice as good as the original', Odintsov ordered her to be removed and she was found a place in the corner of the threshing barn where she stood for many long years, giving rise to superstitious horror among the peasant women. The facade of the portico had long since become overgrown with thick vegetation and only the capitals of the columns were visible above the solid greenery. Within the portico itself it was cool, even at midday. Anna Sergeevna did not like visiting the place ever since she had seen a grass-snake there, but Katya often went there to sit on a large stone seat which had been set below one of the niches. Surrounded by freshness and shade, she used to take her work there and read or give herself up to that feeling of complete tranquility which is probably familiar to everyone and whose charm consists in a scarcely conscious, silent attentiveness to the broad wave of live which ceaselessly rolls both around and within us.

[Fathers and Sons, Turgenev, I.]

...of trust

In the garden of Nikolskoe, in the shade of a tall ash-tree, Katya and Arkady were seated on a turf seat. On the ground beside them lay Fifi, having lent her long body that elegant curve known among sportsmen as 'a hare's lie'. Both Arkady and Katya were silent. He held in his hand a half-opened book while she picked out of a basket some last crumbs of white bread and threw them to a small family of sparrows which, with their characteristic cowardly impudence, jumped about twittering at her feet. A faint breeze, rustling in the leaves of the ash-tree, set in calm to-and-fro motion, both over the dark path and along Fifi's yellow spine, a series of pale golden patches of light. Uninterrupted shade engulfed Arkady and Katya, save that from time to time a bright strand would catch alight in her hair. They were both silent, but it was precisely in the fact of their silence and their sitting together that a trusting closeness reigned. Each seemed not to be thinking about the other, but was secretly delighted by the other's nearness. And their faces had changed since last we saw them, Arkady's seeming calmer and Katya more lively and bolder.

[Father's and Sons, Turgenev, I.]

...of enemies at odds

Peter dashed off and while he ran for the droshky the two opponents sat on the ground and kept silent. Pavel Petrovich tried not to look at Bazarov. He had no wish to be reconciled with him. He was ashamed of his arrogance and his failure, ashamed of the whole enterprise, although he also felt it couldn't have ended in a more satisfactory way. At least he won't be seen around here any longer, he comforted himself, and one can be thankful for that. The silence continued, oppressive and awkward. Both of them felt in the wrong. Each of them knew that the other understood him. For friends this knowledge is pleasant, and for enemies it is particularly unpleasant, especially when there can be neither explanation, nor any chance of escaping each other.

[Fathers and Sons, Turgenev, I.]

...of friends at odds

In silence, only occasionally exchanging a few unimportant words, our friends travelled to Fedot's. Bazarov was not entirely satisfied with himself. Arkady was dissatisfied with him. In addition, he felt in his heart that pointless sadness which is familiar only to those who are very young. The coachman changed the horses and, climbing on to his box, asked which way: right or left?

[Fathers and Sons, Turgenev, I.]

...of reminiscence

Here they are, those traces of class-consciousness and privilege! he thought in a flash. Without saying a word Fenechka peered into the arbour at him and then disappeared and he noted with astonishment that night had already fallen since he'd begun day-dreaming. Everything had grown dark and silent around him, and Fenechka's face had seemed to glide before his eyes, so pale and small. He rose to his feet and made an effort to return to the house, but his heart, grown so tender with reminiscence, could not be calmed in his breast and he started walking slowly up and down the garden, either looking thoughtfully down at his feet or raising his eyes to the sky where stars already swarmed and winked at each other. He walked to and fro a great deal, almost to the point of exhaustion, but the sense of peril within him, a kind of searching, indefinite, melancholy disquiet, would not lessen. Oh, how Bazarov would have laughed at him if he'd known what was going on inside him at that moment! Arkady himself would have condemned him. Tears, pointless tears were forming in his eyes, in the eyes of a man of forty-four, an agronomist and landowner - and that was a hundred times worse than playing the cello!

[Fathers and Sons, Turgenev, I.]

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

...of a hallucination

Was it just something he imagined? He had already begun to doubt. But it made no difference - he was spellbound and it was not an evil spell. Then something began to vibrate. Soundlessly. But still, it was a vibrating and a ringing and a magic song. In his glade.
It became still stranger. He saw the angelica begin to whirl so that the screens of blossoms crackled - and he was immediately sure where the snake lay hidden. Up there! Right there! He could not take his eyes off the spot. A few tufts of grass. The snake was in there, and he had to go up there -

[Spring Night, Vesaas, T.]

...of adolescence

I know more than anyone thinks!
That's the way you shouted when you were fourteen years old and did as you pleased. But it never came to anything, he could not get it out. Even though he had full freedom to sing out so Sissel heard. He stood there for a while and let his silent cry sink into him and into the air around him. He felt the unspoken words running up and down his spine.

[Spring Night, Vesaas, T.]

...of a gesture

In the meantime, the captain gradually brightened up at his own music, and at last flapped his hand upon the table before him in a way we all knew to mean silence. The voices all stopped at once, all but Dr. Livesey's; he went on as before, speaking clear and kind, and drawing briskly at his pipe between every word or two. The captain glared at him for a while, flapped his hand again, glared still harder, and at last broke out with a villainous, low oath: "Silence there, between decks!"

[Treasure Island, Stevenson, R. L.]

- submitted by Pearce, M. A.

...of a sea-captain

He was a very silent man by custom. All day he hung around the cove, or upon the cliffs, with a brass telescope; all evening he sat in a corner of the parlour next to the fire, and drank rum and water very strong. Mostly he would not speak when spoken to; only look up sudden and fierce, and blow through his nose like a foghorn; and we and the people who came about the house soon learned to let him be.

[Treasure Island, Stevenson, R. L.]

- submitted by Pearce, M. A.

...of ecstasy

She slowly descended the steps, and with a silent joy that contained not an atom of torment or yearning, I could watch her dipping up and down in the crystalline liquid, watch the small waves agitated by her and amorously playing around her.
Our nihilistic aesthetician is right: A real apple is more beautiful than a painted one, and a live woman is more beautiful than a Venus of stone.
And when she then emerged from the bath, and the silvery drops and the rosy light trickled down her body - I was overwhelmed with mute ecstasy. I wrapped her in linen cloths, drying her magnificent body; and that quiet bliss lingered with me now, when she, placing her one foot upon me as if on a footstool, rested on the cushions in the large velvet mantle. The supple fur lasciviously snuggled around her cold marble body, and her left arm, on which she propped herself like a slumbering swan, remained in the dark sable of the sleeve, while her right hand carelessly played with the whip.

[Venus In Furs, Sascher-Masoch, L. v.]

...of a slave

"First of all, you will now get a serious taste of the whip - though for no offence on your part - so that you may understand what you can expect if you act clumsy, disobedient, or rebellious."
With savage grace she now hiked up the fur-trimmed sleeve and lashed my back.
I winced - the whip cut into my flesh like a knife.
"Well, how do you like it?" she cried.
I held my tongue.
"Just wait. You'll be whimpering like a dog under my whip," she threatened, and she promptly began to lash me.
The strokes fell quick and dense, with dreadful force, upon my back, my arms, my neck. I gritted my teeth to keep from shrieking. Then she struck my face, warm blood ran down my skin, but she laughed and kept whipping.
"Now I understand you," she cried, "It's really a pleasure to have someone in my power and, in the bargain, a man who loves me -you do love me? No - oh! I'll shred you to bits. My pleasure is growing with every stroke. Writhe a little, scream, whimper! You'll get no mercy from me."
At last she seemed tired.

[Venus In Furs, Sacher-Masoch, L. v.]

...of accompaniment

I did not know what was going to come from Angela's clarinet. No one could have imagined what was going to come from there.
I expected something pathological, but I did not expect the depth, the violence, and the almost intolerable beauty of the disease.
Angela moistened and warmed the mouthpiece, but did not blow a single preliminary note. Her eyes glazed over, and her long, bony fingers twittered idly over the noiseless keys.
I waited anxiously, and I remembered what Marvin Breed had told me - that Angela's one escape from her bleak life with her father was to her room, where she would lock the door and play along with phonograph records.

[Cat's Cradle, Vonnegut, K.]

...of a state visit

There were seven of us who got off at San Lorenzo: Newt and Angela, Ambassador Minton and his wife, H. Lowe Crosby and his wife, and I. When we had cleared customs, we were herded outdoors and on to a reviewing stand.
There, we faced a very quiet crowd.
Five thousand or more San Lorenzans stared at us. The islanders were oatmeal-coloured. The people were thin. There wasn't a fat person to be seen. Every person had teeth missing. Many legs were bowed or swollen.
No one pair of eyes were clear.
The women's breasts were bare and paltry. The men wore loose loincloths that did little to conceal penes like pendulums on grandfather clocks.
There were many dogs, but not one barked. There were many infants, but not one cried. Here and there someone coughed - and that was all.
A military band stood to attention before the crowd. It did not play.
There was a colour guard before the band. It carried two banners, the Stars and Stripes and the flag of San Lorenzo. The flag of San Lorenzo consisted of a Marine Corporal's chevrons on a royal blue field. The banners hung lank in the windless day.
I imagined that somewhere far away I heard the blamming of a sledge on a brazen drum. There was no such sound. My soul was simply resonating the beat of the brassy, changing heat of the San Lorenzo clime.

[Cat's Cradle, Vonnegut, K.]

...of spectators

'How did the kids react when they saw the person on the hook?' I asked.
'Oh,' said Hazel, 'they reacted just about the same way the grown-ups did. They just looked at it and didn't say anything, just moved on to see what the next thing was.'
'What was the next thing?'
'It was an iron chair a man had been roasted alive in,' said Crosby. 'He was roasted for murdering his son.'
'Only, after they roasted him,' Hazel recalled blandly, 'they found out he hadn't murdered his son after all'.

[Cat's Cradle, Vonnegut, K.]

...of incest

At table Berthe and I, contrary to our wont, did not exchange a single word. My aunt and mother were surprised by our silence, but the latter concluded merely: "They've probably been fighting again." It seemed wiser to us to conceal our new-found intimacy beneath the factitious veil of spite.

[Memoirs of a Young Rakehell, Apollinaire, G.]

- submitted by Pearce, M. A.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

...of old news

Two days after the trial, Frau Matzner still had plenty of opportunity to enjoy her sudden celebrity. Still half-stunned by the days she'd spent in the courtroom of the district court, by the questions, by her statement and by her final magnificent and magnanimous appeal to the judge for leniency, she was already beginning to bask in all sorts of confused but soothing notions of what might lie ahead. But it was only those two days after the end of the trial that were given to Frau Matzner to linger in the blissful realm of giddy dreams - just as long as the newspapers cared to run, in ever more abbreviated form, their valedictions to the big story of the autumn. Frau Matzner spared no expense; she bought all the papers. But on the third day, as though by an evil spell, all talk of Brussels lace suddenly vanished, and, no matter how many newspapers Frau Matzner bought on that day too, none of them contained so much as a single word that had any bearing on the trial. To Frau Matzner it felt as though she had entered a zone of appalling silence, the silence of catacombs or cemeteries by night. No! she hadn't entered this macabre silence of her own volition, she had been shoved into it. She felt the cruel and bitter sufferings of the betrayed and the neglected: first bewilderment and disbelief; then an uncomprehending astonishment; the illusory hope that it might all be a dream, and after that the painful understanding that it wasn't; followed by embitterment, impotence and finally vengefulness.

[The String of Pearls, Roth, J.]

...of a captivated audience

Straightaway, to the strains of a Persian melody that seemed largely unfamiliar to the Shah - it was actually a little effort of Nechwal's own - the grey began to perform a sequence of positively witty steps. Thighs, hooves, hindquarters and head: it was thoroughly graceful. Not a word, not a sound! No instructions whatsoever! Was it the rider controlling the horse, or the horse the rider? There was silence all around. Everyone held their breath. Even though they were sitting so close they could practically reach out and touch horse and rider, they followed the spectacle through opera glasses and lorgnettes. It couldn't be brought near enough. The grey pricked up its ears: it was as though it took pleasure in the silence. Intimately and proudly and curiously its large, dark, moist, intelligent eyes surveyed the ladies and gentleman seated all around it - not at all in the expectation of applause, like a circus grey. Just once it looked up at the box of His Majesty the Shah of Persia, as though to ascertain for whom it was doing all of this. With aristocratic hauteur it raised its right foreleg, only a little, as though greeting an equal. Then it described a circle, as the music seemed to require. Thereupon, it gently set its hooves down on the red carpet; but suddenly, at the sound of the cymbals, it produced an astonishing - but elegant and, even in its show of exuberance, perfectly measured - leap, stopped dead, waited a second for the sweet sound of the flute and then, when it finally came, followed it by a gentle and velvety trot, with a hint of a zigzag to suggest the mazy inscrutability of the Orient. The music stopped briefly. In that time, one could hear only the soft delicate impacts of the hooves on the carpet. In the great harem of the Shah of Persia - so far as he could remember - not one of the women had displayed as much loveliness, dignity, grace and beauty as that grey Lippizaner from the stud of His Royal and Imperial Apostolic Majesty.

[The String of Pearls, Roth, J.]

Monday, 10 January 2011

...of rejection

Serezha was silent because he was uncertain of being able to control his voice if he broke the silence. At every attempt to speak, his chin drooped and trembled. He was ashamed to weep alone for his own private reasons, without being able to blame it on the Moscow countryside. His silence caused Anna extreme anguish. She was even more dissatisfied with herself. The important thing was that she agreed to everything; but she had failed to make it obvious by her words.

[The Last Summer, Pasternak, B.]

...of release

He went round the bed and sat on the floor with his feet under him. His pose promised a long and unconstrained chat. But he was so excited, he could not utter a word. And there was nothing to talk about. He was happy not to be under the spiral staircase, but close to her without having to leave her at once. She was about to break the oppressive and slightly comic silence. Then he quickly got on his knees, pressed his crossed hands against the edge of the featherbed, and let his head fall upon them. His shoulder blades began to move evenly and rhythmically, as though grinding something. He was either crying or laughing, but that was still not clear.

[The Last Summer, Pasternak, B.]

...of discretion

She had heard from relations that something was happening to Serezha. She was aware of everything, beginning with the name of Serezha's flame, Olga, and ending with the fact that the latter was happily married to an engineer. She did not ask her brother any questions. Acting thus from conventional discretion, she, like a luminary, ascribed it to a special virtue of her caste. She did not question Serezha, but, breathing the awareness that his story should be submitted to that thoughtful and sensitive principle which she herself personified, she waited for him to break his silence and to open his heart to her of his own accord. She laid claim to his sudden confession, awaiting it with professional impatience; and who will laugh at her if he take into account that her brother's story had in it the element of free love, a dramatic clash with the conventional bonds of matrimony, and the right of a strong healthy feeling and, Heavens, almost the whole of Leonid Andreyev. In the meantime, bridled banality affected Serezha more violently than unbridled and sparking stupidity. And when once he could not contain himself, his sister interpreted his evasiveness in her own way and, from his reluctant omissions, deduced that everything had gone wrong between the lovers. Then her feeling of competence grew stronger because now, to the above attractive inventory, was added what was to her the necessary element of drama. For, however remote her brother might have been to her as a result of his having been born five years and some months later than her generation, she had eyes in her head and she perceived unmistakably that Serezha had no inherent propensity for folly and mischief. And the word 'drama', which Natasha spread among her acquaintances, was the only one not borrowed from her brother's vocabulary.

[The Last Summer, Pasternak, B.]

...of captiousness

The soldier waited, but Captain Penderton did not continue. He had meant to reprimand the soldier for a violation of the regulations concerning the uniform. As he approached, it had seemed to him that Private Williams had buttoned his coat improperly. At first glance the soldier always looked as though he were only in partial uniform, or had neglected some necessary part of his attire. But when they were face to face, Captain Penderton saw that there was nothing for him to criticise. The impression of civilian carelessness was due to the very body of the soldier himself and to no particular infringement of army rules. Again the Captain stood mute and suffocated before the young man. In his heart there coursed a wild tirade of curses, words of love, supplications, and abuse. But in the end he turned away, still silent.

[Reflections in a Golden Eye, McCullers, C.]

...of breathlessness

The Captain was so stunned that he lost his seat. He was hurled forward on the horse's neck and his feet dangling stirrupless. Somehow he managed to hold on. With one hand grasping the mane and the other feebly holding to the reins, he was able to slide himself back into the saddle. But that was all he could do. They were riding with such dizzying speed that his head swam when he opened his eyes. He could not find his seat firmly enough to control the reins. And he knew in one fateful instant that even so it would be no use; there was not the power i him to stop this horse. Every muscle, every nerve in his body was intent on only one purpose - to hold on. With the speed of Firebird's great racing sire they were flying over the wide open space of sward that separated the bluff from the woods. The grass was glinted with bronze and red beneath the sun. Then suddenly the Captain felt a green dimness fall over them and he knew that they had entered the forest by way of some narrow footpath. Even when the horse had left the open space, he seemed hardly to slacken his speed. The dazed Captain was in a half-crouching position. A thorn from a tree ripped open his left cheek. The Captain felt no pain, but he saw vividly the hot scarlet blood that dripped on his arm. He crouched down so that the right side of his face rubbed against the short stiff hair of Firebird's neck. Clinging desperately to the mane, the reins, and the saddlebow, he dared not raise his head for fear it would be broken by the branch of a tree.
Three words were in the Captain's heart. He shaped them soundlessly with his trembling lips, as he had not breath to spare for a whisper: 'I am lost.'

[Reflections in a Golden Eye, McCullers, C.]

...of character

The soldier in this affair was Private Ellgee Williams. Often in the late afternoon he could be seen sitting alone on one of the benches that lined the sidewalk before the barracks. This was a pleasant place, as here there was a long double row of young maple trees that patterned the lawn and the walk with cool, delicate, wind-blown shadows. In the spring the leaves of the trees were a lucent green that as the hot months came took on a darker, restful hue. In late autumn they were flaming gold. Here Private Williams would sit and wait for the call to evening mess. He was a silent young soldier and in the barracks he had neither an enemy nor a friend. His round sunburned face was marked by a certain watchful innocence. His full lips were red and the bangs of his hair lay brown and matted on his forehead. In his eyes, which were of a curious blend of amber and brown, there was a mute expression that is found usually in the eyes of animals. At first glance Private Williams seemed a bit heavy and awkward in his bearing. But this was a deceptive impression; he moved with the silence and agility of a wild creature or a thief. Often soldiers who had thought themselves alone were startled to to see him appear as from nowhere by their sides. His hands were small, delicately boned, and very strong.

[Reflections in a Golden Eye, McCullers, C.]

...of holding the line

Beaver sat on beside his telephone. Once it rang and a voice said, 'Mr Beaver? Will you please hold the line, sir, Mrs Tipping would like to speak to you.'
The intervening silence was full of pleasant expectation. Mrs Tipping had a luncheon party that day, he knew; they had spent some time together the evening before and he had been particularly successful with her. Someone had chucked...

[A Handful of Dust, Waugh, E.]

Friday, 7 January 2011

...of resignation

...It was only natural for us to keep discussing the business of the letter, looking at it this way and that in all its known details and unknown possibilities, and to compete constantly in thinking up ways to bring it all to a happy conclusion. Yes, it was natural and inevitable, but not a good idea; it plunged us ever more deeply into what we wanted to escape. And what use were our ideas, however excellent? None of them could be put into practice without Amalia, they were all just preliminaries, rendered pointless by the fact that they did not get through to Amalia at all, and even if they had, would have met with nothing but silence. Well, fortunately I understand Amalia better now than I did then. She bore more than any of us, it is incredible how much she has borne, and she still lives here with us today. Our mother perhaps bore the affliction of all of us, she bore it because she suffered its full onslaught, and then she couldn't bear it for long; it can't be said that she still bears it today, and even then her mind was confused. But Amalia not only bore our affliction, she also had the lucidity of mind to see what it was; while we saw only the consequences she saw the reason; we hoped for some small means of improvement, whatever it might be; she knew that all was decided, we had to whisper, she had only to keep silent. She faced the truth and lived, and bore her life then as she does now. How much better off the rest of us are, for all our misery, than Amalia...

[The Castle, Kafka, F.]

...of dispassion

...It was a grave and silent love that united the couple. The tone was set by Gisa, whose lethargic nature would nonetheless break out into wild excess, but who would never have tolerated such conduct in other people at other times, and so the lively Schwarzer had to adapt to her, walk slowly, speak slowly, keep silent a great deal. However, anyone could see that he was richly rewarded for all this by Gisa's mere silent presence. Yet perhaps Gisa did not really love him at all, at least her round, grey eyes, which almost never blinked, although their pupils seemed to roll, gave no answer to such questions. You saw that she tolerated Schwarzer, but she certainly did not understand what an honour it was to be loved by the son of one of the castle wardens, and she carried her full and sensuous body in the same way whether Schwarzer's eyes were following her or not. Schwarzer, for his part, made constant sacrifices for her staying in the village, when messengers came from his father to fetch him back, as they often did, he dispatched them with as much indignation as if being briefly reminded by them of the castle and his duty as a son was a harsh and irremediable disruption of happiness. However, he really had plenty of spare time, for in general Gisa would keep him company only during lessons and while they were correcting exercises, not in any spirit of calculation but because she liked her comfort, and therefore being alone, more than anything, and was probably happiest when she could stretch out on the sofa at home at complete liberty beside her cat, who never bothered her at all, since it could hardly move any more. So Schwarzer drifted around with nothing to do for a large part of the day, but he enjoyed that too, for it always gave him the chance, a chance which he often seized, to go to Lion Alley where Gisa lived, climb up to her little attic room, listen at the door, which was always locked, and then go away again after hearing nothing inside the room but the most complete and strange silence...

[The Castle, Kafka, F.]

...of being led by another

He held that arm more firmly; Barnabas was almost pulling him along, and they preserved an unbroken silence. All K. knew about the way they were going was that, judging by the state of the road surface, they had turned into another side-alley. He resolved not to be deterred from going on by any difficulty on the road, or indeed by anxiety about finding his own way back; his strength would surely hold out. And could this walk go on for ever? By day the castle had seemed an easy place to reach, and a messenger from it was sure to know the shortest way.

[The Castle, Kafka, F.]