Moon Tiger Quotes

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Moon Tiger Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively
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Moon Tiger Quotes (showing 1-29 of 29)
“Language tethers us to the world; without it we spin like atoms.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“We open our mouths and out flow words whose ancestries we do not even know. We are walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse; we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate people of whom we have never heard. More than that, we speak volumes – our language is the language of everything we have read. Shakespeare and the Authorised Version surface in supermarkets, on buses, chatter on radio and television. I find this miraculous. I never cease to wonder at it. That words are more durable than anything, that they blow with the wind, hibernate and reawaken, shelter parasitic on the most unlikely hosts, survive and survive and survive.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“Giving presents is one of the most possessive things we do, did you realize that? It's the way we keep a hold on other people. Plant ourselves in their lives.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“The place didn't look the same but it felt the same; sensations clutched and transformed me. I stood outside some concrete and plate-glass tower-block, picked a handful of eucalyptus leaves from a branch, crushed them in my hand, smelt, and tears came to my eyes. Sixty-seven-year-old Claudia, on a pavement awash with packaged American matrons, crying not in grief but in wonder that nothing is ever lost, that everything can be retrieved, that a lifetime is not linear but instant. That, inside the head, everything happens at once.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
tags: life
“…crying not in grief but in wonder that nothing is ever lost, that everything can be retrieved, that a lifetime is not linear but instant. That, inside the head, everything happens at once.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
tags: life
“The power of language. Preserving the ephemeral; giving form to dreams, permanence to sparks of sunlight.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“I am addicted to arrivals, to those innocent dawn moments from which history accelerates.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“Children are not like us. They are beings apart: impenetrable, unapproachable. They inhabit not our world but a world we have lost and can never recover. We do not remember childhood -- we imagine it. We search for it, in vain, through layers of obscuring dust, and recover some bedraggled shreds of what we think it was. And all the while the inhabitants of this world are among us, like aborigines, like Minoans, people from elsewhere safe in their own time-capsule.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“I've grown old with this century; there's not much left of either of us.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“I have a print - you can buy them at the Victoria and Albert Museum - of a photograph of the village street of Thetford, taken in 1868, in which William Smith is not. The street is empty. There is a grocer's shop and a blacksmith's and a stationary cart and a great spreading tree, but not a single human figure. In fact William Smith - or someone, or several people, dogs too, geese, a man on a horse - passed beneath the tree, went into the grocer's shop, loitered for a moment talking to a friend while the photograph was taken but he is invisible, all of them are invisible. The exposure of the photograph - sixty minutes - was so long that William Smith and everyone else passed through it and away leaving no trace. Not even so much of a mark as those primordial worms that passed through the Cambrian mud of northern Scotland and left the empty tube of their passage in the rock.

I like that. I like that very much. A neat image for the relation of man to the physical world. Gone, passed through and away.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“The question is, shall it or shall it not be linear history. I've always thought a kaleidoscopic view might be an interesting heresey. Shake the tube and see what comes out. Chronology irritates me. There is no chronology inside my head. I am composed of myriad Claudias who spin and mix and part like sparks of sunlight on water. The pack of cards I carry around is forever shuffled and re-shuffled; there is no sequence, everything happens at once. The machines of the new technology, I understand, perform in much the same way: all knowledge is stored, to be summoned up at the flick of a key. They sound, in theory, more efficient. Some of my keys don't work; others demand pass-words, codes, random unlocking sequences. The collective past, curiously, provides these. It is public property, but it is also deeply private. We all look differently at it. My Victorians are not your Victorians. My seventeenth century is not yours. The voice of John Aubrey, of Darwin, of whoever you like, speaks in one tone to me, in another to you.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“Children are infinitely credulous. My Lisa was a dull child, but even so she came up with things that pleased and startled me. 'Are there dragons?' she asked. I said that there were not. 'Have there ever been?' I said all the evidence was to the contrary. 'But if there is a word dragon,' she said, 'then once there must have been dragons.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“And now I want to get yesterday down while I still have the awful taste of it”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
tags: life
“I find this miraculous. I never cease to wonder at it. That words are more durable than anything...”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“Perhaps I shall not write my account of the Paleolithic at all, but make a film of it. A silent film at that, in which I shall show you first the great slumbering rocks of the Cambrian period, and move from those to the mountains of Wales...from Ordovician to Devonian, on the lush glowing Cotswolds, on to the white cliffs of Dover... An impressionistic, dreaming film, in which the folded rocks arise and flower and grow and become Salisbury Cathedral and York Minster...”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“I control the world so long as I can name it. Which is why children must chase language before they do anything else, tame the wilderness by describing it, challenge God by learning His hundred names.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“I wasn't thinking of Tom but of myself. And of a self who seemed to be mot 'me' but 'she.' An innocent, moving fecklessly through the days, knowing nothing, whom I saw now with awful wisdom. ... I had hesitated to make this journey, had put it off year after year but had known always that eventually it must be undertaken. And, confronted at last with the mirage -- with the shining phantom of that other time -- I was surprised to find that it was myself that was the poignant presence.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“I never told her the other story, in which she stars, in which she is always the heroine – a romanticized story full of cliché images in which I am telling her all the things there has not been enough time for, in which we are doing all the things there has not been time for…”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“She lies awake in the small hours. On the bedside table is a Moon Tiger. The Moon Tiger is a green coil that slowly burns all night, repelling mosquitoes, dropping away into lengths of grey ash, its glowing red eye a companion of the hot insect-rasping darkness. She lies there thinking of nothing, simply being, her whole body content. Another inch of the Moon Tiger feathers down into the saucer.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“The day is refracted, and the next and the one after that, all of them broken up into a hundred juggled segments, each brilliant and self-contained so that the hours are no longer linear but assorted like bright sweets in a jar.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“In the frozen stone of the cathedrals of Europe there co-exist the Apostles, Christ and Mary, lambs, fish, gryphons, dragons, sea-serpents and the faces of men with leaves for hair. I approve of that liberality of mind.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“It becomes more and more difficult to credit Lisa with being a quarter Russian. Somewhere and within and behind this quintessentially middle-class middle- England figure in her Jaeger suit and floppy-bowed silk shirt and her neat polished shoes lies the most tormented people in the history of the world. Somewhere in Lisa's soul, though she knows little of it and cares less, are whispers of St Petersburg, of the Crimea, of Pushkin, of Turgenev, of million upon million enduring peasants, of relentless winters and parched summers, of the most glorious language ever spoken, of samovars and droshkys and the sad sloe-eyed faces of a thousand icons. Lisa carried in her spirit matters she knows not of. I look at Lisa and wolves howl across the steppe, the blood flows at Borodino, Irina sighs for Moscow. All derivative, all in the mind - the confection of fact and fantasy that is how we know the world.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“God shall have a starring role in my history of the world. How could it be otherwise? If He exists, then He is responsible for the whole marvellous appalling narrative. If He does not, then the very proposition that He might have killed more people and exercised more minds than anything else. He dominates the stage. In His name has been devised the rack, the thumbscrew, the Iron Maiden, the stake; for Him have people been crucified, flayed alive, fried, boiled, flattened; He has generated the Crusades, the pogroms, the Inquisition and more wars than I can number. But for Him there would not be the St Mathews Passion, the works of Michelangelo and Chartres Cathedral.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
tags: god
“When I look at those years I look at them alone. What happened there happens now only inside my head - no one else sees the same landscape, hears the same sounds, knows the sequence of events. There is another voice, but it is one that only I hear. Mine - ours - is the only evidence.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“Time and the universe lie around in our minds. We are sleeping histories of the world.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“We all act as hinges - fortuitous links between other people.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“For some of us a war was being fought; there must have been many who had no idea what this war was, whose it was or why it was. Like some theatrical lion it roared off-stage while the actors got on with their business. And all the while the extraordinary backcloth eerily reflected the juxtapositions – that scenery in which the lush vegetable borders of the Nile ended so abruptly that you stepped from fields to desert in one pace; in which a crumbling monument might be Greek, Roman, pharaonic, medieval, Christian, Muslim; in which illiterate peasants with a life expectancy of thirty lived in shanty houses set up between the soaring columns of temples inscribed with the complex mythologies of three thousand years before. There was no chronology to the place, and no logic.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
tags: egypt, time
“I cannot write chronologically of Egypt. Ancient Egypt. So-called ancient Egypt. In my history of the world – this realistic kaleidoscopic history – Egypt will have its proper place as the complacent indestructible force that has perpetuated itself in the form of enough carved stone, painted plaster, papyri, granite, gold leaf, lapis lazulis, bits of pot and fragments of wood to fill the museums of thew world. Egypt is not then but now, conditioning the way we look at things.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger
“It was because dissension was frowned upon when I was a child: 'Don't argue, Claudia', 'Claudia, you must not answer back like that.' Argument, of course, is the whole point of history. Disagreement; my word against yours; this evidence against that. If there were such a thing as absolute truth the debate would lose its lustre. I, for one, would no longer be interested.”
Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger

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