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Posts from the ‘Away with words’ Category

Romeo and Juliet

What Juliet said to Romeo:

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.

What Romeo heard according to Mark Knopfler:

Juliet, when we made love you used to cry.
You said, “I love you like the stars above I’ll love you till I die.”
There’s a place for us, you know, the movie song
When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong?


Tom Stoppard

“We cross our bridges when 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 a presumption that once our eyes watered.”
― Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Don’t tell me the moon is shining…

In 1892 an editor asked Anton Chekhov for biographical information. This is what Chekhov wrote:

“Do you need my biography? Here it is. In 1860 I was born in Taganrog. In 1879 I finished my studies in the Taganrog school. In 1884 I finished my studies in the medical school of Moscow University. In 1888 I received the Pushkin Prize. In 1890 I made a trip to Sakhalin across Siberia-and back by sea. In 1891 I toured Europe, where I drank splendid wine and ate oysters. In 1892 I strolled with V.A. Tikhonov at the writer Shcheglov’s name-day party. I began to write in 1879 in Srekosa. My collections of stories are Motley Stories, Twilight Stories, Gloomy People, and the novella The Duel. I have also sinned in the realm of drama, although moderately. I have been translated into all languages with the exception of the foreign ones. However, I was translated into German quite a while ago. The Czechs and Serbs also approve of me. And the French also relate to me. I grasped the secrets of love at the age of thirteen. I remain on excellent terms with friends, both physicians and writers. I am a bachelor. I would like a pension. I busy myself with medicine to such an extent that this summer I am going to perform some autopsies, something I have not done for two or three years. Among writers I prefer Tolstoy, among physicians, Zakharin. However, this is all rubbish. Write what you want. If there are no facts, substitute something lyrical.”

And here is a quote from Chekhov that makes complete and terrible sense to me:

“I was oppressed with a sense of vague discontent and dissatisfaction with my own life, which was passing so quickly and uninterestingly, and I kept thinking it would be a good thing if I could tear my heart out of my breast, that heart which had grown so weary of life.”

But he did say this as well, so perhaps there is hope:

“Even in Siberia there is happiness.”

Katherine Mansfield nailed it on the head:

“Ach, Tchekov! Why are you dead? Why can’t I talk to you in a big darkish room at late evening—where the light is green from the waving trees outside? I’d like to write a series of Heavens: that would be one.”
Journal of Katherine Mansfield

Harper Lee

The watch ticking
“Presently I picked up a comb from Jem’s dresser and ran its teeth along the edge.
“Stop that noise,” Atticus said.
His curtness stung me. The comb was midway in its journey, and I banged it down. For no reason I felt myself beginning to cry, but I could not stop. This was not my father. My father never thought these thoughts. My father never spoke so. Aunt Alexandra had put him up to this, somehow. Through my tears I saw Jem standing in a similar pool of isolation, his head cocked to one side.
There was nowhere to go, but I turned to go and met Atticus’s vest front. I buried my head in it and listened to the small internal noises that went on behind the light blue cloth: his watch ticking, the faint crackle of his starched shirt, the soft sound of his breathing.
“Your stomach’s growling,” I said.
“I know it,” he said.
“You better take some soda.”
“I will,” he said.”
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, Pan Books Ltd. Edition, London, 1974.

“Writing is a process of self-discipline you must learn before you can call yourself a writer. There are people who write, but I think they’re quite different from people who must write.” —Harper Lee


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