Shadow Country Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
Shadow Country Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen
3,552 ratings, 4.03 average rating, 582 reviews
Open Preview
Shadow Country Quotes (showing 1-29 of 29)
“This world is painted on a wild dark metal”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“From the first day I met his daughter, all I could think about was snuffling up under that sweet dimity like some bad old bear, just crawling up into that honeycomb, nose twitching, and never come out of there till early spring. Think that’s disgusting? Dammit, I do, too, but that’s the way male animals are made. Those peculiar delights were created to entrap us, and anybody who disapproves can take it up with God.

In their wondrous capacity of knowing the Lord’s mind, churchly folks will tell you that He would purely hate to hear such dirty talk. My idea is, He wouldn’t mind it half so much as they would have us think, because even according to their own queer creed, we are God’s handiwork, created in His image, lust, piss, shit, and all. Without that magnificent Almighty lust that we mere mortals dare to call a sin, there wouldn’t be any more mortals, and God’s grand design for the human race, if He exists and if He ever had one, would turn to dust, and dust unto dust, forever and amen. Other creatures would step up and take over, realizing that man was too weak and foolish to properly reproduce himself. I nominate hogs to inherit the Earth, because hogs love to eat any old damned thing God sets in front of them, and they’re ever so grateful for God’s green earth even when it’s all rain and mud, and they just plain adore to feed and fuck and frolic and fulfill God’s holy plan. For all we know, it’s hogs which are created in God’s image, who’s to say?”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“I have never figured out how women work but I do know that their skin color has no significance. Black or white, every last one is pretty pink on the inside and they are all impossible.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Around about now, young John Owen comes out of the shack lugging my old musket from the War. At six years of age, our youngest boy already knew his business. Not a word, just brings the shooting iron somewhat closer so's he don't waste powder, then hoists her up, set to haul back on the trigger. I believe his plan was to shoot this feller, get the story later.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Webster said, ''Time them skeeters get done with that old man, his French blood will be all gone and he will speak American as good as we do.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Huntin too hard for the truth ain’t a good idea, y’know,” he added. “By the time you stumble over it, it ain’t the truth no more. Unless there’s death in it. I reckon death is about as close to truth as a man can come.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“His sunrise mood evaporated with the dew, giving way to restlessness, disquiet. All his life, Lucius’s moods had been prey to shifts of light, and now a leaden melancholy dragged at his spirits.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“The glee of it. The ecstasy of It. I can't speak about this It because I know no word. It is just there, It is always there, like death in life. In this instant I know that something terrible is rising that must be seized and turned back upon itself before it twists outward into violence. But that knowing always comes too late, a wild unraveling is under way and I am caught up in it like a coyote seen late one afternoon in an Arkansas tornado-a toy dog spinning skyward, struck white by a ray of sun against black clouds, then black, then white, then gone and lost forever. The wind dies. A dead stillness. Mirror water. That ecstasy that shivered every nerve replaced by the precise knowing that what this self perpetrated is as much a part of the universal will as erupting lava that subsides once more into the inner earth.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Course truth don’t count for much after all these years cause folks hangs on to what it suits ’em to believe and won’t let go of it.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“I forded the Santa Fe below Fort White and headed south across the Alachua Prairie where the early Indians and Spaniards ran their cattle. To the east that early morning, strange dashes of red color shone through the blowing tops of prairie sedges where the sun touched the crowns of sandhill cranes. Their wild horn and hollow rattle drifted back on a fresh wind as the big birds drifted over the savanna. That blood-red glint of life in the brown grasslands, that long calling--why should such fleeting moments pierce the heart? And yet they do. That was what Charlie my Darling made me see. They do.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“The slow stone metamorphoses filled him with longing—longing for what? Simplicity? Was simplicity the true nature of homegoing? The simple harmonies, earth order and abundance. In this churchyard in a woodland meadow at the end of a white road, he missed what he had never known, the peace of living one day then another in communion with others of one’s blood and at the end, at the close of one’s works and days, to draw that last breath and come to rest in earth where one’s bones belonged.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“You could of heard a spider sip a breath.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Before my eyes daily as we sailed way down upon the Suwannee River were visions of spring furrows at Clouds Creek, the warmed earth opened up behind the plow; of wildflowered meadows, cool and verdant, and airy open woods along the shaded creeks, winding southeast to the Edisto. That spring landscape turned forever and away in my mind's eye, changing softly into gold greens of upland summer in that lost land where I was born, the country of my forefathers, the heart of home. Clouds Creek—my earth—was the wellspring and the source of Edgar Watson, all the Eden he had ever wished or hoped to find.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“This bold energetic man of rare intelligence and enterprise must also be understood as a man undone by his own deep flaws. He was known to drink to grievous excess, for example, which often turned him volatile and violent. On the other hand, his evil repute has been wildly exaggerated by careless journalists and their local informants, who seek to embellish their limited acquaintance with a “desperado”; with the result that the real man has been virtually entombed by tale and legend which since his death has petrified as myth. The most lurid view of Mr. Watson is the one perpetuated by the Islanders themselves, for as Dickens observed after his visit to this country, “These Americans do love a scoundrel.” Because his informants tend to imagine that the darkest interpretation is the one the writer wishes to hear, the popular accounts (until now, there have been no others) are invariably sensational as well as speculative: the hard facts, not to speak of “truth,” are missing. Also, this “Bloody Watson” material relates only to his final years in southwest Florida; one rarely encounters any reference to South Carolina, where Edgar Artemas Watson passed his boyhood, nor to the years in the Indian Country (always excepting his alleged role in the slaying of Belle Starr), nor even to the Fort White district of Columbia County in north Florida where he farmed in early manhood, married all three of his wives, and spent almost half of the fifty-five years of his life.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Small bits of life crawled and flew about the ward on ancient business.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Long long ago down the browning decades, in the light of the old century in Carolina, walked a toddling child, a wary boy, a strong young male of muscle, blood, and brain who saw, who laughed and listened, smelled and touched, ate, drank, and bred, occupying time and space with his getting and spending in the world. What his biographer will strive to recover is a true sense of this human being, with all his particularity and hope and promise, in the hope that the reader might understand who the grown man might have become had he not known too much of privation, rage, and loss.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Yessir, they’s big money involved in this park fight, that’s the story. Dyer’s the mouthpiece for them east coast developers that has fought that park idea for years; them boys are workin day and night to grab that real estate before all them nature-lovers and such get the Glades nailed down by the federl gov’mint. You ain’t seen all that stuff in the papers? Gettin the public fired up against the feds for wastin half of Florida on this big green nothin? Stead of sellin off that land and cuttin taxes?”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Trouble was, they never let on to their sons how scared they was—so scared they forgot the color of a man because he could outshoot the man who scared ’em. And bein ashamed, they never talked about it or discussed it in the family.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Webster growled a Webster kind of prayer: “God Almighty, here is two more meek that has inherited Your earth.” Webster spoke in his own peculiar way; we never did learn how to hear him.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Home was that lone house on its great bend of Chatham River, no destination anymore but only the source of a vague sadness he thought of as “homegoing,” a returning to the lost paradise of true belonging.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“I was overtaken by a dread of utter solitude in the great turning world.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“this man would rob them graves himself, being some way starved by life, bone greedy.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Watson loved them sour kind of jokes, which I enjoyed myself. I mean, ain’t life some kind of a sour joke? Might’s well laugh, that’s the way him and me seen it, whether nice folks seen the joke or not. One time when Watson caught me grinning along with him, he give a wink and lifted up his hat.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“There is a difference between right and wrong, always was and always will be, but each man's wrong and each man's right are different.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Just goes to show how life leaks away when you ain’t paying attention. One day you look up, look around, and the world is empty. Not empty exactly but something is wrong, there ain’t no color left to life.” outraged, he glared at Lucius. “Watsons long gone and Coxes moved away, Burdetts and Betheas, too. Ain’t none of them good old families left. Died out or gone off to the cities, gone away like they was never here at all.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“knowing freedom was dangerous.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Man wants the truth about Ed Watson,” Daniels jeered. “Where you aim to find it? Smallwoods’ll tell you their truth, Hardens’ll tell you theirs. Fat-ass guard out there, he’ll tell you his and I’ll give you another. Which one you aim to settle for and make your peace with?”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“Mistaking Lucius’s silence for acquiescence, he pointed a hard finger at his eyes. “Maybe nobody don’t need this truth you’re lookin for, ever think about that?”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
“white crescents beneath the pupils made his pale blue eyes seem to protrude, though they did not: lacking depth, they appeared to be inset into the skin like stones in hide.”
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country

All Quotes
Quotes By Peter Matthiessen
Play The 'Guess That Quote' Game