Quotes

“I can understand how the aristocrats and great landowners with no hope of posterity leave their estates untended. We can experience nothing but the present moment, live in no other second of time, and to understand this is as close as we can get to eternal life. But our minds reach back through the centuries for the reassurances of our ancestry and, without the hope of posterity, for our race if not for ourselves, without the assurance that we being dead yet live, all pleasures of the mind and senses sometimes seem to me no more than pathetic and crumbling defences shored up against our ruins.” (Chapter 1)

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“Each of the women was carrying a white bundle wrapped in a shawl beneath which fell the lace-trimmed pleated folds of christening robes. Theo made to pass them, eyes tactfully averted, but the two women almost barred his way and, smiling the meaningless smile of the half-demented, thrust forward the bundles, inviting his admiration. The two kittens, ears flattened beneath the ribboned bonnets, looked both ridiculous and endearing.” (Chapter 8)

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“Man is diminished if he lives without the knowledge of his past; without hope of a future he becomes a beast. We see in every country in the world the loss of that hope, the end of science and invention, except for discoveries which may extend life or add to its comfort and pleasure, the end of our care for the physical world and our planet. What does it matter what turds we leave behind as legacies of our brief disruptive tenancy?” (Chapter 12)

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“If there had been no Omega, these were aims which a man might be prepared to fight for, even to suffer for. But if there had been no Omega, the evils would not exist. It was reasonable to struggle, to suffer, perhaps even to die, for a more just, a more compassionate society, but not in a world with no future where, all too soon, the very words ‘justice,’ ‘compassion,’ ‘society,’ ‘struggle,’ ‘evil,’ would be unheard echoes on an empty air.” (Chapter 15)

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“She said quietly: ‘Did you love your wife?’

It was, as he saw, a serious question, not a retaliation, and he gave it a serious and truthful answer. ‘I convinced myself I did when I married. I willed myself into the appropriate feelings without knowing what the appropriate feelings were. I endowed her with qualities she didn’t have and then despised her for not having them. Afterwards I might have learned to love her if I had thought more of her needs and less of my own.’

He thought: Portrait of a marriage. Perhaps most marriages, good and bad, could be summed up in four sentences.” (Chapter 28)

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“Carl looked down at the child with his dying eyes and spoke his Nunc Dimittis: ‘So it begins again.’

Theo thought: it begins again, with jealousy, with treachery, with violence, with murder, with this ring on my finger.” (Chapter 33)