Book//mark – The House in Paris | Elizabeth Bowen, 1935

Elizabeth Bowen, 1939                                                                 Elizabeth Bowen, The House in Paris, 1935    

“But to be quite oneself one must first waste a little time.”

“You could see that her tremendous inside life, its solitary fears and fires, was out of
accord with her humble view of herself; to hide or excuse what she felt was her first wish.”

“Never to lie is to have no lock to your door, you are never wholly alone”

“You know, even grown-up people cannot do what they want most”
“Then why grow up?”

“Grown-up people seem to be busy by clockwork: even when someone is not ill,
when there has been no telegram, they run their unswerving course from object to
object, directed by some mysterious inner needle that points all the time to what
they must do next. You can only marvel at such misuse of time.”

“Their hands, swinging, touched lightly now and then;
their nearness was as natural as the June day.”

“First love, with its frantic haughty imagination, swings its object clear of the everyday,
over the rut of living, making him all looks, silences, gestures, attitudes, a burning
phrase with no context. This isolation, young love and hero worship accomplish
without remorse; they hardly know tenderness.”

“People in love, in whom every sense is open, cannot beat off the influence of a place.”

“…there must be something she wanted; and that therefore she was no lady.”

“He wanted to crack the world by saying some final and frightful thing.”

“Karen, her elbows folded on the deck-rail, wanted to share with someone her
pleasure in being alone: this is the paradox of any happy solitude.”

“She was in that flagging mood when to go on living seems only to load
more unmeaning moments on to your memory.”

“Meeting people unlike oneself does not enlarge one’s outlook; it only confirms
one’s idea that one is unique.”

“Jealousy is no more than feeling alone against smiling enemies.”

“Someone soon to start on a journey is always a little holy.”

“The station is sounding, resounding, full of steam caught on light and
arches of dark air: a temple to the intention to go somewhere.”

“People must hope so much when they tear streets up and fight at barricades.
But, whoever wins, the streets are laid again and the trams start running again.
One hopes too much of destroying things. If revolutions do not fail, they fail you.”

Elizabeth Bowen, The House in Paris, 1935

An early admirer of The House in Paris was Virginia Woolf, a good friend of Bowen’s.
In a letter about the book, Woolf wrote,
“I had the feeling that your world imposed itself on my world, while I read, 
which only happens when one is taken in hand by a work.”

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