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The Go-Between The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley
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The Go-Between Quotes Showing 1-27 of 27
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“If my twelve-year-old self, of whom I had grown rather fond, thinking about him, were to reproach me: 'Why have you grown up such a dull dog, when I gave you such a good start? Why have you spent your time in dusty libraries, catologuing other people's books instead of writing your own? What had become of the Ram, the Bull and the Lion, the example I gave you to emulate? Where above all is the Virgin, with her shining face and curling tresses, whom I entrusted to you'- what should I say?

I should have an answer ready. 'Well, it was you who let me down, and I will tell you how. You flew too near to the sun, and you were scorched. This cindery creature is what you made me.'

To which he might reply: 'But you have had half a century to get over it! Half a century, half the twentieth century, that glorious epoch, that golden age that I bequeathed to you!'

'Has the twentieth century,' I should ask, 'done so much better than I have? When you leave this room, which I admit is dull and cheerless, and take the last bus to your home in the past, if you haven't missed it - ask yourself whether you found everything so radiant as you imagined it. Ask yourself whether it has fulfilled your hopes. You were vanquished, Colston, you were vanquished, and so was your century, your precious century that you hoped so much of.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“To see things as they really were--what an empoverishment!”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“You insisted on thinking of them as angels, even if they were fallen angels.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“Grown-ups didn't seem to realize that for me, as for most other schoolboys, it was easier to keep silent than to speak. I was a natural oyster.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“To my mind's eye, my buried memories of Brandham Hall are like effects of chiaroscuro, patches of light and dark: it is only with effort that I see them in terms of colour. There are things I know, though I don't know how I know them, and things that I remember. Certain things are established in my mind as facts, but no picture attaches to them; on the other hand there are pictures unverified by any fact which recur obsessively, like the landscape of a dream.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
tags: memory
“No, I thought, growing more rebellious, life has its own laws and it is for me to defend myself against whatever comes along, without going snivelling to God about sin, my own or other people's. How would it profit a man if he got into a tight place, to call he people who put him there miserable sinners? Or himself a miserable sinner? I disliked the levelling aspect of this sinnerdom, it was like a cricket match played in a drizzle, where everybody had an excuse - and what a dull excuse! - for playing badly. Life was meant to test a man, bring out his courage, initiative, resource; and I longed, I thought, to be tested: I didn't want to fall on my knees and call myself a miserable sinner.
But the idea of goodness did attract me, for I did not regard it as the opposite of sin. I saw it as something bright and positive and sustaining, like the sunshine, something to be adored, but from afar.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
tags: god, good, life, sin
“You flew too near the sun and you were scorched.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“Try now, try now, it isn't too late'
...
Excitement, like hysteria, bubbled up in me from a hundred unsealed springs. If it isn't too late, I thought confusedly, neither it is too early: I haven't much time left to spoil. It was the last flicker of instinct of self-preservation which had failed me so signally at Brandham Hall.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“Not Adam and Eve, after eating the apple, could have been more upset than I was.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“I had never met a lord before, nor had I ever expected to meet one. It didn't matter what he looked like: he was a lord first, and a human being, with a face and limbs and body, long, long after.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“The conversation of the gods! - I didn't resent or feel aggrieved because I couldn't understand it. I was the smallest of the planets, and if I carried messages between them and I couldn't always understand, that was in order too: they were something in a foreign language - star-talk.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“El pasado es un país extranjero: allí las cosas se hacen de manera distinta.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“But what I heard was a low insistent murmur, with pauses for reply in which no reply was made. It had a hypnotic quality that I had never heard in any voice: a blend of urgency, cajolery, and extreme tenderness, and with below it the deep vibrato of a held-in laugh that might break out at any moment. It was the voice of someone wanting something very much and confident of getting it, but at the same time willing, no, constrained, to plead for it with all the force of his being.”
L.P. Hartley , The Go-Between
“I was no longer satisfied with the small change of experience, which had hitherto contented me. I wanted to deal in larger sums.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“...for the first time I couldn't feel really interested in my mother's letter. The small concerns of home, instead of coming close to me and enveloping me as I read about them, remained small and far away; they were like magic lantern slides without a lantern to bring them back to life. I didn't belong there, I felt; my place was here; here I was a planet, albeit a small one, and carried messages for other planets. And my mother's harping on the heat seemed irrelevant and almost irritating; she ought to know, I felt, that I was enjoying it, that I was invulnerable to it, invulnerable to everything...”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“Why do you like Hugh better? Because he is a Viscount?'
'Well, that's one reason,' I admitted, without any false shame. Respect for degree was in my blood and I didn't think of it as snobbery.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“But I was not so much interested in facts themselves as in the importance they had for my imagination. I was passionately interested in railways, and in the relative speed of the fastest express trains; but I did not understand the principle of the steam engine and had no wish to learn.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“I should not have cared to see it as an act of self-sacrifice even if it had been one; for there is nothing clever in self-sacrifice, nothing to pride oneself on.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“Believing himself to be unseen by other bathers, he gave himself up to being alone with his body. He wriggled his toes, breathed hard through his nose, twisted his brown moustache where some drops of water still clung, and looked himself critically all over. The scrutiny seemed to satisfy him, as well as it might. I, whose only acquaintance was with bodies and minds developing, was suddenly confronted by maturity in its most undeniable form; and I wondered, what must it feel like to be him, master of those limbs which have passed beyond the need of gym and playing field, and exist for their own beauty and strength? What can they do, I thought, to be conscious of themselves?”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“Suddenly I caught sight of myself in a glass and saw what a figure of fun I looked. Hitherto I had always taken my appearance for granted; now I saw how inelegant it was, compared with theirs; and at the same time, for the first time, I was acutely aware of social inferiority. I felt utterly out of place among these smart rich people, and a misfit everywhere.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“What did we talk about that has left me with an impression of wings and flashes, as of air displaced by the flight of a bird? Of swooping and soaring, of a faint iridescence subdued to the enfolding brightness of the day?”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“Well, they don't talk to me very much," I said. "You see, they're all grown up, and they have grown-up games like whist and lawn tennis, and talking, you know, just for the sake of talking" (this seemed a strange pursuit to me).”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“Her face was wet with tears.

A foreigner in the world of the emotions, ignorant of their language but compelled to listen to it, I turned into the street. With every step I marvelled more at the extent of Marian's self-deception. Why then was I moved by what she had said? Why did I half wish that I could see it all as she did? And why should I go on this preposterous errand? I hadn't promised to and I wasn't a child, to be ordered about. My car was standing by the public call-box; nothing easier than to ring up Ted's grandson and make my excuses. . . .

But I didn't, and hardly had I turned in at the lodge gates, wondering how I should say what I had come to say, when the south-west prospect of the Hall, long hidden from my memory, sprang into view.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“And the heat was a medium which made this change of out-look possible. As a liberating power with its own laws it was outside my experience. In the heat, the commonest objects changed their nature. Walls, trees, the very ground one trod on, instead of being cool were warm to the touch: and the sense of touch is the most transfiguring of all the senses. Many things to eat and drink, which one had enjoyed because they were hot, one now shunned for the same reason. Unless restrained by ice, the butter melted. Besides altering or intensifying all smells the heat had a smell of its own - a garden smell, I called it to myself, compounded of the scents of many flowers, and odours loosened from the earth, but with something peculiar to itself which defied analysis. Sounds were fewer and seemed to come from far away, as if Nature grudged the effort. In the heat the senses, the mind, the heart, the body, all told a different tale. One felt another person, one was another person.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
“When I had got over the shock of this disclosure, which quite took away my powers of speech, my first impulse was to feel aggrieved. Why hadn't they told me? I might have made an even worse fool of myself. Then, with still greater force, it struck me that I ought to have known. It had been obvious from the start, too obvious. But I was like that. Two and two never made four for me, if I could make them five.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between