“But the other reason women wanted daughters was to keep their memories alive. Sons did not hear their mothers’ stories after weaning. So I was the one. My mother and my mother-aunties told me endless stories about themselves. No matter what their hands were doing – holding babies, cooking, spinning, weaving – they filled my ears.”
“Why had no one told me that my body would become a battlefield, a sacrifice, a test? Why did I not know that birth is the pinnacle where women discover the courage to become mothers?”
“There is much that is immortal in this medieval lady. The dragons have gone, and so have the knights, but still she lingers in our midst. She reigned in many an early Victorian castle, and was Queen of much early Victoria song. It is sweet to protect her in the intervals of business, sweet to pay her honor when she has cooked our dinner well. But alas! the creature grows degenerate. In her heart also there are springing up strange desires. She too is enamored of heavy winds, and vast panoramas, and green expanses of the sea. She has marked the kingdom of this world, how full it is of wealth, and beauty, and war-a radiant crust, built around the central fires, spinning towards the receding heavens. Men, declaring that she inspires them to it, move joyfully over the surface, having the most delightful meetings with other men, happy, not because they are masculine, but because they are alive. Before the show breaks up she would like to drop the august title of the Eternal Woman, and go there as her transitory self.”- page 44-45
“This she might not attempt. It was unladylike. Why? Why were most big things unladylike? Charlotte had once explained to her why. It was not that ladies were inferior to men; it was that they were different. Their mission was to inspire others to achievement rather than to achieve themselves. Indirectly, by means of tact and spotless name, a lady could accomplish much. But if she rushed into the fray herself, she would be first censured, then despised and finally ignored. Poems had been written to illustrate this point.” – page 44
anyone who knows me knows that i am a huge, huge fan of the mitfords (see previous entry), particularly nancy’s and jessica’s writing. this book is out of print, and apparently $20+ on amazon, so start scouring your used bookstores because this is a must-have!
the mitford girls wrote extensively to each other throughout their lives, and this book is a mere 5% of the letters they wrote to each other- apparently there are about 12,000 letters between the six sisters. all the girls had a million different nicknames, for each other, as well as other family members and friends, so it may get a bit confusing when you read the quotes.
“You know what I say to people whe I hear they’re writing anti-war books?”
“No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?”
“I say, ‘Why don’t you write an anti-glacier book instead?'”
What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too. (3)
“When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is ‘So it goes.'” (27)
Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops. (39)
“There isn’t any particular relationship between all the messages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.” (88)
She upset Billy simply by being his mother. She made him feel embarrassed and ungrateful and weak because he had gone to so much trouble to give him life, and to keep that life going, and Billy didn’t really like life at all. (102)
It was about a visitor from outer space, shaped very much like a Tralfamadorian, by the way. The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could, why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of the low.
But the Gospels actually taught this:
Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn’t well connected. (108-109)