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Irish Quotes — A Key To My Sources

June 17, 2009

We’re back from the honeymoon! And because a number of people asked about the quotes that have given some small daily substance to this blog, I’m glad to reveal the names of the works and their authors below. Watch for more updates soon!

“Lily, the caretaker’s daughter, was literally run off her feet. Hardly had she brought one gentleman into the little pantry behind the office on the ground floor and helped him off with his overcoat than the wheezy hall-door bell clanged again and she had to scamper along the bare hallway to let in another guest….” — From “The Dead” by James Joyce

“Six yards of stuff for to make a yellow gown. A pair of lace boots with lengthy heels on them and brassy eyes. A hat is suited for a wedding-day. A fine tooth comb….” — From The Playboy of the Western World by J.M. Synge

“Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes’ chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression. I reflected on the subject of my spare-time literary activities. One beginning and one ending for a book was a thing that I did not agree with….” — From At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien

“Picture a summer stolen whole from some coming-of-age film set in small-town 1950s. This is none of Ireland’s subtle seasons mixed for a connoisseur’s palate, watercolor nuances within a pinch-sized range of cloud and soft rain; this is summer full-throated and extravagant in a hot pure silkscreen blue.” — From In The Woods by Tana French

“She was glad it was the evening mailboat she was taking, for she did not think she could have faced a morning departure. At the party the night before one of the medical students had found a flask of raw alcohol and mixed it with orange crush and she had drunk two glasses of it, and the inside of her mouth was still raw and there was something like a drum beating behind her forehead. She had stayed in bed all morning, still tipsy, unable to sleep and crying half the time, a hankie crushed to her mouth to stifle the sobs….” — From Christine Falls by Benjamin Black (a.k.a. John Banville)

“I walk through the long schoolroom questioning; / A kind old nun in a white hood replies; / The children learn to cipher and to sing, / To study reading-books and histories, / To cut and sew, be neat in everything / In the best modern way….” — From “Among School Children” by W.B. Yeats

“Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air….” — From Ulysses by James Joyce [Should’ve saved this one for Bloomsday, of course….]

The word Oysters was chalked on the wagon that carried Chekhov’s body to Moscow for burial. The coffin was carried in the oyster wagon because of the fierce heat of early July. Those were the first sentence in Eva Lindberg’s loose notes, written in a large childish hand, and she started reading them at the table again as she waited for Arvo Meri to come to the small flat….”— From “The Beginning of an Idea” by John McGahern

“They departed, the gods, on the day of the strange tide. All morning under a milky sky the waters in the bay had swelled and swelled, rising to unheard-of heights, the small waves creeping over parched sand that for years had known no wetting save for rain and lapping the very bases of the dunes. the rusted hulk of the freighter that had run aground at the far end of the bay longer ago than any of us could remember must have thought it was being granted a relaunch. I would not swim again, after that day….” — From The Sea by John Banville

“I am in my mother’s room. It’s I who live there now. I don’t know how I got there. Perhaps in an ambulance, certainly a vehicle of some kind. I was helped. I’d never have got there alone….” — From Molloy by Samuel Beckett

“Violet married the piano tuner when he was a young man. Belle married him when he was old….” — From “The Piano Tuner’s Wives” by William Trevor

“I wakened quickly and sat up in bed abruptly. It is only when I am anxious that I awaken easily and for a minute I did not know why my heart was beating faster than usual. Then I remembered. The old reason. He had not come home….” — From The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien

“As a child, they could not keep me from wells / And old pumps with buckets and windlasses. / I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells / Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.” — From “Personal Helicon” by Seamus Heaney

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