I am not a bird, and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.
It’s a great line—and one that stands well all on its own. You don’t need to know Jane Eyre to appreciate the sentiment, although knowing the novel makes the line even better.
Another favorite literary line, suitable for a coffee mug or piece of jewelry, comes from Tolkien: “Not all those who wander are lost.”
But a lot of my favorite lines don’t make much sense on their own. Someone could quote them to me, and I’ll react with a sigh or a gasp, but only because they mean something bigger than the words they say.
Annabel’s post on Stephen King’s Song of Susannah reminded me of one of these: “Go then, there are other worlds than these.” If you haven’t read The Gunslinger, the first in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, the line is meaningless. It might sound nice and feel quotable, but there’s nothing in it to react to. But it resonates through the whole series, and if you’ve read the books, you may not be able to help but gasp, “Oh, Jake” on hearing the words.
Dorothy Dunnett’s Pawn in Frankincense presents a similar line: “Come my love … say good night to the dark.” The funny thing about this one is that out of context, it conveys a feeling that is almost the complete opposite of what it conveys in the book. It might seem like a nice line for a pendant or wall art, but if you’ve read the book, you’ll know that would never do.
What are some of your favorite literary quotes? Is it the line itself that you love–or is it the way it evokes the story around it?
* For those who are wondering—and I know some of you are—I got the mug in the picture from Ophelia’s Gypsy Caravan on Etsy. I love her stuff. Lots of literary and Dr. Who mugs and this amazing Tolkien tea set. Too bad the tea set sold before I was able to convince anyone to spend $200 on a completely frivolous Christmas gift for me.
In Other News
The Slaves of Golconda reading group is voting for our next book to read together. Because cold weather makes me want to read crime fiction, I put together a list of books with some sort of mystery or suspense angle. Cast your vote in the comments at the Slaves blog by November 11, and join us for the discussion around January 15.
Aarti’s More Diverse Universe event, which celebrates books of science fiction and fantasy by people of color, is coming November 15-17. To participate, just read a speculative fiction book by a person of color, post a review on one of those dates, and share the link over at Aarti’s blog. I have a couple of books on my shelf that fit, so I’m hoping to participate.
Also, Simon visited DC a few weeks ago and Thomas a I got to spend a day visiting bookstores with him. I didn’t get a chance to post about it, but you can read about it over at Simon’s or at Thomas’s.
The book splurging I did during Simon’s visit makes Samantha’s post about book buying (“Why the Shame?”) particularly timely—and she makes some excellent points!