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Winter's Tale Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
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Winter's Tale Quotes (showing 1-30 of 164)
“He moved like a dancer, which is not surprising; a horse is a beautiful animal, but it is perhaps most remarkable because it moves as if it always hears music.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“Nothing is random, nor will anything ever be, whether a long string of perfectly blue days that begin and end in golden dimness, the most seemingly chaotic political acts, the rise of a great city, the crystalline structure of a gem that has never seen the light, the distributions of fortune, what time the milkman gets up, the position of the electron, or the occurrence of one astonishing frigid winter after another. Even electrons, supposedly the paragons of unpredictability, are tame and obsequious little creatures that rush around at the speed of light, going precisely where they are supposed to go. They make faint whistling sounds that when apprehended in varying combinations are as pleasant as the wind flying through a forest, and they do exactly as they are told. Of this, one is certain.

And yet, there is a wonderful anarchy, in that the milkman chooses when to arise, the rat picks the tunnel into which he will dive when the subway comes rushing down the track from Borough Hall, and the snowflake will fall as it will. How can this be? If nothing is random, and everything is predetermined, how can there be free will? The answer to that is simple. Nothing is predetermined, it is determined, or was determined, or will be determined. No matter, it all happened at once, in less than an instant, and time was invented because we cannot comprehend in one glance the enormous and detailed canvas that we have been given - so we track it, in linear fashion piece by piece. Time however can be easily overcome; not by chasing the light, but by standing back far enough to see it all at once. The universe is still and complete. Everything that ever was is; everything that ever will be is - and so on, in all possible combinations. Though in perceiving it we image that it is in motion, and unfinished, it is quite finished and quite astonishingly beautiful. In the end, or rather, as things really are, any event, no matter how small, is intimately and sensibly tied to all others. All rivers run full to the sea; those who are apart are brought together; the lost ones are redeemed; the dead come back to life; the perfectly blue days that have begun and ended in golden dimness continue, immobile and accessible; and, when all is perceived in such a way as to obviate time, justice becomes apparent not as something that will be, but something that is.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“Lonely people have enthusiasms which cannot always be explained. When something strikes them as funny, the intensity and length of their laughter mirrors the depth of their loneliness, and they are capable of laughing like hyenas. When something touches their emotions, it runs through them like Paul Revere, awakening feelings that gather into great armies.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“Justice can sleep for years and awaken when it is least expected. A miracle is nothing more than dormant justice from another time arriving to compensate those it has cruelly abandoned. Whoever knows this is willing to suffer, for he knows that nothing is in vain.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“The shelf was filled with books that were hard to read, that could devastate and remake one's soul, and that, when they were finished, had a kick like a mule.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“They gave themselves up to the stars the way swimmers can surrender to the waves, and the stars took them without resistance.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“No one ever said that you would live to see the repercussions of everything you do, or that you have guarantees, or that you are not obliged to wander in the dark, or that everything will be proved to you and neatly verified like something in science. Nothing is: at least nothing that is worthwhile. I didn't bring you up only to move across sure ground. I didn't teach you to think that everything must be within our control or understanding. Did I? For, if I did, I was wrong. I fyou won't take a chance, then the powers you refuse because you cannot explain them, will, as they say, make a monkey out of you.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“To be mad is to feel with excruciating intensity the sadness and joy of a time which has not arrived or has already been. And to protect their delicate vision of that other time, madmen will justify their condition with touching loyalty, and surround it with a thousand distractive schemes. These schemes, in turn, drive them deeper and deeper into the darkness and light (which is their mortification and their reward), and confront them with a choice. They may either slacken and fall back, accepting the relief of a rational view and the approval of others, or they may push on, and, by falling, arise. When and if by their unforgivable stubbornness they finally burst through to worlds upon worlds of motionless light, they are no longer called afflicted or insane. They are called saints.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“Give me a night by the fire, with a book in my hand, not that flickering rectangular son of a bitch that sits screaming in every living room in the land.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“He could say nothing. He had no right to be there, he had already been profoundly changed, he was no good at small talk, she was half naked, it was dawn and he loved her.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
tags: love
“Peter Lake had no illusions about mortality. He knew that it made everyone perfectly equal, and that the treasures of the earth were movement, courage, laughter, and love. The wealthy could not buy these things. On the contrary, they were for the taking.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“They're not just dreams. Not anymore, I dream more than I wake now, and, at times, I have crossed over. Can't you see? I've been there.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“All rivers run full to the sea; those who are apart are brought together; the lost ones are redeemed; the dead come back to life; the perfectly blue days that have begun and ended in golden dimness continue, immobile and accessible; and, when all is perceived in such a way as to obviate time, justice becomes apparent not as something that will be, but something that is.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“Winter then in its early and clear stages, was a purifying engine that ran unhindered over city and country, alerting the stars to sparkle violently and shower their silver light into the arms of bare upreaching trees. It was a mad and beautiful thing that scoured raw the souls of animals and man, driving them before it until they loved to run. And what it did to Northern forests can hardly be described, considering that it iced the branches of the sycamores on Chrystie Street and swept them back and forth until they rang like ranks of bells.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“If nothing is random, and everything is predetermined, how can there be free will? The answer to that is simple. Nothing is predetermined; it is determined, or was determined, or will be determined.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“All great discoveries...are products as much of doubt as of certainty, and the two in opposition clear the air for marvelous accidents.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“For what can be imagined more beautiful than the sight of a perfectly just city rejoicing in justice alone.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“Quite possibly there's nothing as fine as a big freight train starting across country in early summer, Hardesty thought. That's when you learn that the tragedy of plants is that they have roots.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“She died on a windy gray day in March when the sky was full of darting crows and the world lay prostrate and defeated after winter. Peter Lake was at her side and it ruined him forever. It broke him as he had not ever imagined he could have been broken. He would never again be young, or able to remember what it was like to be young. What he had once taken to be pleasures would appear to him in his defeat as hideous and deserved punishments for reckless vanity.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“She felt as if she knew the stars, and had been among them, or would be.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“...to be paid for one's joy is to steal.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“They were dancing around the fountain, arm in arm, in an old Dutch dance, their cheeks touching, their hands entwined. They had no music; they hummed. And there was no reason for them to be dancing that Peter Lake could see, except that it was an exceptionally beautiful night.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“He hated it as if he were about to love it—unforgivingly, irrationally, sadly.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“[When] he's here, he's always reading. He says books stop time. I myself think he's crazy...Don't tell anyone, but when he reads something that he likes he gets real happy, turns on the music, and dances by himself, or with a broom sometimes.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“And they'll vote for me because I'm the best liar, because I do it honestly, with a certain finesse. They know that lies and truth are very close, and that something beautiful rests between.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“I see no justice in that plan."
"Who said," lashed out Isaac Penn, "that you, a man, can always perceive justice? Who said that justice is what you imagine? Can you be sure that you know it when you see it, that you will live long enough to recognize the decisive thunder of its occurrence, that it can be manifest within a generation, within ten generations, within the entire span of human existence? What you are talking about is common sense, not justice. Justice is higher and not as easy to understand -- until it presents itself in unmistakable splendor. The design of which I speak is far above our understanding. But we can sometimes feel its presence.
"No choreographer, no architect, engineer, or painter could plan more thoroughly and subtly. Every action and every scene has its purpose. And the less power one has, the closer he is to the great waves that sweep through all things, patiently preparing them for the approach of a future signified not by simple human equity (a child could think of that), but by luminous and surprising connections that we have not imagined, by illustrations terrifying and benevolent -- a golden age that will show not what we wish, but some bare awkward truth upon which rests everything that ever was and everything that ever will be. There is justice in the world, Peter Lake, but it cannot be had without mystery.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“Shall I show you the half-dozen other rooms in this hospital where these scenes are repeated? And what of the other hospitals? Printing House Square is small and tame. Even in the private institutions uptown you can see a show just like this: there is nothing as disgusting as an obese cadaver in which all the futile pleasures of many years finally arise to fill it full-blown with stinking rotten gases. The city is burning and under siege. And we are in a war in which everyone is killed and no one is remembered."
"What am I supposed to do, then," Peter Lake asked, "if it's like you say?"
"Is there someone you love?"
"Yes."
"A woman?"
"Yes."
"Then go home to her."
"And who will remember her?"
"No one. That's just the point. You must take care of all that now.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“Why do people resist [engines, bridges, and cities] so? They are symbols and products of the imagination, which is the force that ensures justice and historical momentum in an imperfect world, because without imagination we would not have the wherewithal to challenge certainty, and we could never rise above ourselves.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
“The beauty of truth is that it need not be proclaimed or believed. It skips from soul to soul, changing form each time it touches, but it is what it is, I have seen it, and someday you will, too.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
tags: truth
“Not surprisingly, he began to sing, and because no one in the world could hear him, and he sang without inhibition, he sang well.”
Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale

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