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Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
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Foreign Affairs Quotes Showing 1-11 of 11
“early childhood she had given her deepest trust, and which for half a century has suggested what she might do, think, feel, desire, and become, has suddenly fallen silent. Now, at last, all those books have no instructions for her, no demands—because she is just too old. In the world of classic British fiction, the one Vinnie knows best, almost the entire population is under fifty, or even under forty—as was true of the real world when the novel was invented. The few older people—especially women—who are allowed into a story are usually cast as relatives; and Vinnie is no one’s mother, daughter, or sister. People over fifty who aren’t relatives are pushed into minor parts, character parts, and are usually portrayed as comic, pathetic, or disagreeable. Occasionally one will appear in the role of tutor or guide to some young protagonist, but more often than not their advice and example are bad; their histories a warning rather than a model. In most novels it is taken for granted that people over fifty are as set in their ways as elderly apple trees, and as permanently shaped and scarred by the years they have weathered. The literary convention is that nothing major can happen to them except through subtraction. They may be struck by lightning or pruned by the hand of man; they may grow weak or hollow; their sparse fruit may become misshapen, spotted, or sourly crabbed. They may endure these changes nobly or meanly. But they cannot, even under the best of conditions, put out new growth or burst into lush and unexpected bloom. Even today there are disproportionately few older characters in fiction. The”
Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs
“Of course some people say it is her own fault that she’s alone: that she is impossibly romantic, asks too much (or too little) of men, is unreasonably jealous, egotistical/a doormat; sexually insatiable/frigid; and so on—the usual things people say of any unmarried woman, as Vinnie well knows.”
Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs
“In this culture, where energy and egotism are rewarded in the young and good-looking, plain aging women are supposed to be self-effacing, uncomplaining--to take up as little space and breathe as little air as possible.”
Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs
“As I walked by myself And talked to myself, Myself said unto me, Look to thyself, Take care of thyself, For nobody cares for thee.”
Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs
“In most novels it is taken for granted that people over fifty are as set in their ways as elderly apple trees, and as permanently shaped and scarred by the years they have weathered. The literary convention is that nothing major can happen to them except through subtraction.”
Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs
“Though it has given her a livelihood and a reputation, not to mention these happy months in London, Vinnie has a bad conscience about her profession. The success of children’s literature as a field of study—her own success—has an unpleasant side to it. At times she feels as if she were employed in enclosing what was once open heath or common. First she helped to build a barbed-wire fence about the field; then she helped to pull apart the wildflowers that grow there in order to examine them scientifically. Ordinarily she comforts herself with the thought that her own touch is so light and respectful as to do little harm, but when she has to sit by and watch people like Maria Jones and Dr. Smithers dissecting the Queen Anne’s lace and wrenching the pink campion up by its roots, she feels contaminated by association.”
Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs
“and Excuse Me and Would You Mind If; the daylong restraint of the natural impulse to yawn, to sigh, to scratch her head or pass wind or take off her shoes. Then, there is the sense of being constantly, even if benevolently, observed, making it impossible to do anything odd or impulsive—go for a walk in the rain before breakfast, for instance, or get up at two A.M. to make herself a cup of cocoa and read Trollope—without provoking anxious inquiry. “Vinnie? What are you doing down there? Are you all right?”
Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs
“transformed into a kind of”
Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs
“Sometimes Vinnie wonders why any woman ever gets into bed with any man. To take off all your clothes and lie down beside some unclothed larger person is a terribly risky business. The odds are stacked almost as heavily against you as in the New York state lottery. He could hurt you; he could laugh at you; he could take one look at your naked aging body and turn away in ill-concealed, embarrassed distaste. He could turn out to be awkward, selfish, inept—even totally incompetent. He could have some peculiar sexual hangup: a fixation on your underclothes to the exclusion of you, for instance, or on one sexual variation to the exclusion of all else. The risks are so high that really no woman in her right mind would take such a chance—except that when you do take such a chance you’re usually not in your right mind. And if you win, just as with the state lottery (which Vinnie also plays occasionally) the prize is so tremendous.”
Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs
“It was lucky for Fred that he had already published two solid articles and was in the eighteenth century, where good candidates are scarce. Fred”
Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs
“and said so. Their initial impressions of each other were”
Alison Lurie, Foreign Affairs