Elizabeth Bowen Quotes (2)


Systematic Quotes from all Elizabeth Bowen Novel Chapters and Stories (Part Two).

She could only conclude that he felt time wasted at all had better be wasted thoroughly, and to this end put a pretty high value on fatuity.

From Chapter 21 of ‘To The North’ 1932


Tragedy confounding life with its manifold disproportion.  Here figures cast unknown shadows; passion knows no crime, only its own movement; steel and the cord go with the kiss.  Innocence walks with violence; violence is innocent, cold as fate; between the mistress’ kiss and the blade’s is a hair’s breadth only, and no disparity; every door leads to death . . . . The curtain comes down, the book closes – but who is to say that this is not so?

From Chapter 22 of ‘To The North’ 1932


She added that they had a secretary who clicked reproach at them like a waiting taxi.

From Chapter 23 of ‘To The North’ 1932


Tessa with her fluffy hair falling down round the innocent, interrogatory O of her face looked younger, looked really rather – there was no other word for it – sweet.

From Chapter 4 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


They had been predisposed in Milton’s favour by the fact that he had come downstairs to breakfast and ordered an egg: this seemed to them virile.

From Chapter 5 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


Two lemon-trees were beside it, and this little house which she seemed at once to inhabit gave her the most strange sensations of dignity and of peace.  She saw herself go climbing up the garden from terrace to terrace, calling the goat, and the goat, beautiful in its possessedness, came loping down to meet her, asking to be milked.  At this she paused in perplexity, for she had never milked anything and turned cold at the thought of touching the udders of an animal.  But in a moment this was over and she carried the milk frothing warm in the pottery jug inside, into the dark interior of the house which would not be dark from within.  Here something turned her back and she could not follow herself; she saddened, feeling excluded from some very intimate experience.  The house was lonely and in autumn, when the river was brimming, the rushing past of the water must be terrifying; its echo would line with sound the upright walls of the valley.  On still spring nights the thud of a falling lemon would be enough to awake one in terror.

From Chapter 6 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


Now the walls jumped in and out of shadow; a five-shilling clock struck a half-hour long ago past.  Far down below, the traffic went past in jerks to the Great West Road, as though being pumped out of London.

From ‘Firelight in the Flat’ 1934


She had bronzy-gold hair, parted down the centre, that rippled smoothly against the line of her cheeks, and a smile – subtle, gentle, malicious – that sent curves up under her eyes: a da Vinci smile.  An extraordinary daughter for one of one’s aunts to have had.

From ‘The Man of the Family’ 1934

Timber by timber, Oudenarde Road fell to bits, as small houses are broken up daily to widen the roar of London.

From Chapter 24 of ‘To The North’ 1932

Sleep, the thin uneasy sleep of daylight, had today been the refuge of many, for cold rain fell ceaselessly past the windows.  It was a transparent rain without mist, like summer rain in England, through which trees and buildings for a great distance could be seen distinctly in a Japanese conventionality and flatness.  Leaves and long palm-fronds shone and trickled.  Curtained in this pale gloom, the Hotel seemed permeated by a sense of the rain’s despairing persistency, against which the reasonable conviction of visitors that the sun, bound by contract with the locality, must soon appear again put up cold walls around an inward emptiness.  In many rooms the tick of travelling-clocks, the stutter of rain along the balconies, were being listened to attentively.

From Chapter 7 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


“It’s not, of course, that I’m nervous, but I really begin to feel – if you’ll understand my saying anything so extraordinary – as if I didn’t exist.  If somebody does come to the door or the telephone does ring, I’m almost surprised to find I’m still there. One would go mad if one were not able to go abroad.”

From Chapter 8 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


In cold, windy April sunlight, she crawled round and round the floor, with pins in her mouth.

From ‘The Needlecase’ 1934


“It is impossible to be with me; I make rooms impossible.”

From ‘The Apple Tree’ 1934 (DFL’s favourite story of mine)


  Three days afterwards the weather along that coast was once more fulfilling the expectation of visitors. Only a little wind remained to disturb the sea, to rustle dryly through the palm-trees out on the promontory where the coast road disappeared towards Genoa and to rush to meet one round street corners with a disconcertingly ice-cold whistle. Against an opaque, bright blue sky the expressionless faces of the buildings had again their advertised and almost aching whiteness.  The sounds, like the shadows, were exact and clear-cut, no longer blunted by the rain.

From end to end of the town the principal long street ran like a funnel; as Sydney came out of the flower-shop, her side of the street was slate-grey in the shadow of early afternoon. It was characteristic of her as an intelligent young English lady that she should have come to buy carnations during the hour of the siesta, cutting for her a caprice of her own direct across the custom of the land.  The carnations, among which, walking slowly, she now was burying her face, were scentless, but gave one an acute pleasure by the chilly contact of their petals.  She had an armful of two colours – sulphur with a ragged edge of pink and ashy mauve with crimson at the centre, crimson-veined. Carnations are not costly before they reach the flower-market, grown on terraces that stagger up the hills and picked in the grey quiet of the morning to the accompaniment of singing and of never-answered calls that come dropping down forlornly from terrace to terrace to the coast. On account of their low cost, their strangeness to the Northern eye and the vehemence of their colouring, they have become the vehicle of much emotion. One cannot, however casually, present these native carnations to a friend and remain quite unaffected, while the pleasure with which carnations are received is intensified by some vague agitation.

Sydney’s day had been so far as perfect as a bubble; she felt careless of it, as though the bubble could not burst. Happiness, she said to herself, is not to be solicited, but coming, for however short a time, comes with an appearance of finality, to be juggled with offhand. It seems to be some kind of balance, as in riding a bicycle, attempted painfully a thousand times and achieved at last without effort. Her senses were absorbed by the carnations, she barely looked ahead, and she could be conscious of the street only as a sharp distinction between sun and shadow. Crossing over, she walked in the sun, where dogs stretched their lengths in abandon on the hot pavement. She must have been made conspicuous by her abstraction or by her yellow dress; people turned to stare at her and a tram announced by a hum of overhead wires rushed past with a long smudge of faces turned her way. She left the street but delayed her return to the Hotel by following a series of by-paths, pausing now and then to stare idly through some barred gate into a garden. She was mapping out for herself a deep-down life in which emotions ceased their clashing together and friends appeared only as painted along the edge of one’s quietness …


She said, “I have often thought it would be interesting if the front of any house, but of an hotel especially, cold be swung open on a hinge like the front of a doll’s house.  Imagine the hundreds of rooms with their walls lit up and the real-looking staircase and all the people surprised doing appropriate things in appropriate attitudes as though they had been put there to represent something and had never moved in their lives.  Like the cook-doll that I always had propped up against the library book-shelves and the sitting-up doll in the bath that was really a china ornament and had no other attitude, and the limp dolls that wouldn’t do anything so had to be kept in the spare-room beds, which I always think was an unconscious reflection on the ideal habits for visitors.”

From Chapter 10 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


Yesterday’s unborn pleasure, today’s might-have-been hung about the cottage, picking out the harp, the hearth and the pictures in lines of agony, afflicting her senses whatever she touched, wherever she turned.

From Chapter 25 of ‘To The North’ 1932


On evenings when Cecilia went out with Julian, Emmeline walked the roads of St. John’s Wood or up to Hampstead quickly, her hands in her pockets.  Wet or fine, when rain drew the lamplight out into long reflections, or moths from the sycamores whirled in brown air round the lamps, she walked late; pulling up vaguely at corners or stopping to stare over garden walls.  The neighbourhood appeared strange to her.  Trees were dull with July; dust and lamplight made the pale houses monotone; she heard voices sharp with late summer fatigue.

From Chapter 26 of ‘To The North’ 1932


For a moment she thought she saw in Emmeline’s eyes a wandering icy gentleness like insanity’s, gentleness with no object.  But this was as in a dream.

From Chapter 27 of ‘To The North’ 1932


He looked sideways, trying to fix himself by an idea of fixity; three cars, standing empty, nosed into the jaded glare of an all-night café.  Lit banks and low dark running skyline plaited their alternation over his brain; beside him she sat in frozen singleness, drinking speed.

From Chapter 28 of ‘To The North’ 1932 (the end of this novel’s quotes)

Here no chair invited you, the uninviting books must have been bought in lots, and looked gummed in the shelves.

From ‘Reduced’ 1935

He never knew what happened – a cold, black pit with no bottom opened inside himself; a red-hot bellwire jagged up though him from the pit of his frozen belly to the caves of his eyes. Then the hot, gummy rush of tears, the convulsion of his features, the terrible, square grin he felt his mouth take all made him his own shameful and squalid enemy.

From ‘Tears, Idle Tears’ 1941

…he thought of the whole band of white hotels like palaces along the line of coast into which their own seemed now to be knitted – hotels with light streaming out of them towards the tideless sea that, never advancing on the shore or receding from it, was like an inexorable unfailing Memory, not worked upon by thought or changed by sleep.

From Chapter 11 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


“We talk and talk and cancel out each other’s ideas until it all comes down to what it was before: that we do not agree. At the end of it all it is as though nothing had been said.  I do not even understand myself any better at the end of it, and if that fails what is the use of conversation? Nothing will ever crystallize out of our being together; not so much as a notion.”

From Chapter 12 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927

She was tortured by an expectation that the cemetery with its ornaments might have rolled itself  up and vanished, or worse, that it might fail in its pungent appeal, so  that she would not this time experience what she had learned to describe  as a frisson as she gazed through the gloom of the trees down that distracting prospective of monuments. Also, she had made herself  responsible for the reactions of Miss Warren from the moment they  turned down the suggestive cul-de-sac away from the sea, walled in  steeply and vanishing at a succession of angles round the palm-tufted  bases of the hills.  

The cemetery seemed quite deserted. Gashes of over-charged daylight  pressed in through the cypresses on to the graves: a hard light bestowing  no grace and exacting each detail. In the shade of the pillared vaults  round the walls what already seemed the dusk of evening had begun to  thicken, but the rank and file of small crosses staggered arms wide in the arraignment of sunshine. In spite of the brooding repose of the trees a hundred little shrill draughts came between them, and spurting across the graves made the decorations beloved of Cordelia creak and glitter. A wreath of black tin pansies swung from the arm of a cross with a clatter of petals, trailing colourless ribbons; a beaded garland had slipped down slantwise across the foot of a grave. Candles for the peculiar glory of the lately dead had been stuck in the unhealed earth: here and there a flame in a glass shade writhed, opaque in the sunshine. Above all this uneasy rustle of remembrance, white angels poised forward to admonish. The superlatives crowding each epitaph hissed out their ‘issimi‘ and ‘issime‘ from under the millinery of death. Everywhere, in ribbons, marbles, porcelains was a suggestion of the salon, and nowhere could the significance of death have been brought forward more startlingly.  

 ‘I must say,’ remarked Cordelia, ‘I do like Italian graves; they look so much more lived in.’    

 They would certainly be more difficult than others to get clear of,’ said Sydney; and quickly, in unthinking perturbation, she pushed open the cemetery gates, as though she were on a message to a friend’s house and hurried in. Once among the graves she stood with Cordelia behind her, looking round again. She was oppressed by the thought, less of death than of the treachery of a future that must give one to this ultimately. She was not accustomed to consider death as other than a spontaneous fine gesture. Now it hinted itself as something to be imposed on one the last and most humiliating of those deprivations she had begun to experience. She thought, ‘It is all very well to escape to the future and think it will always be that; but this is the end of the future.’ Looking up to watch a bird fly slowly across the sky, she realized that living as she had lived she had been investing the future with more and more of herself. The present, always slipping away, was ghostly, every moment spent itself in apprehension of the next, and these apprehensions, these faded expectancies cumbered her memory, crowded out her achievements and promised to make the past barren enough should she have to turn back to it.

From Chapter 13  of ‘The Hotel’ 1927

Round him stripes prevailed, on the tight brocades of he upholstery, on the mats methodically diamond-wise on the polish; stripes were repeated innumerably in the satiny wallpaper and the lace blinds over the door.  One had a sense of being caged into this crowded emptiness.

From Chapter 14 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


“You should be thankful we don’t drink,” said Veronica, and shut the door after her – not satisfactorily, for it clicked open again and began to creak on its hinges in the manner of hotel doors all over the world.

Sydney heard her quickening footsteps retreat; she listened forlornly, straining her ears for the last of them.  Then she got up and tidied the bed; smoothed out the eiderdown, picked up the amber beads and hanging them round her neck stood telling them off like a rosary.  Some premonition, such as that with which a recurring physical pain announces itself, made her snatch up Jude the Obscure quickly and stare at the pages, but there she found nothing but print. She looked up for a moment and – “She has so absolutely given you the go-by,’ the room repeated, caching her unawares. The shapes of the furniture, everything that she looked at, said it again.

From Chapter 15 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


The whole weight of his body seemed to have gone into his head, which lay as heavy as a world on her thighs.

From ‘A Walk In The Woods’


Polly Perry-Dunton’s armchair was pushed up so that one arm made telepathic contact with Clifford’s sofa.  Curled up childishly in the cushions, she held a Penguin volume a little above her face.  She kept the stiff Penguin open by means of an anxious pressure from her thumb. She read like someone told to pose with a book, and seemed unable to read without holding her breath.

From ‘A Love Story 1939’ 1941


She made for the bridge, appearing so abrupt was the turn of the path, to have plunged waist-deep into the shiny dark leaves that flopped back, heavy as fishes, from the sweep of her skirts.

From Chapter 16 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


The business of the Pâtisserie wilted temporarily before the approach of lunchtime.  Surprised by this isolation, as though the trees of a wood had melted away from around them, the two left the shade of the awning and stood dazzled for a moment, looking vaguely up and down the street.

From Chapter 17 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


He recalled his own shiver, the shiver about him in the very dark trees; something must have been immanent. The path, their very contiguity seemed to be haunted; he wanted to catch up the girl ahead and put out a hand to her for comfort at this crisis of regret and nostalgia.

From Chapter 18 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


A faded room should look homely. But extinct paper and phantom cretonnes gave this a gutted air.

From ‘Look at All Those Roses’ 1941

Up to now she had been happy without knowing, like a fortunate sheep or cow always in the same field.  She was a woman who did not picture herself.  She had looked in mirrors only to pat her perm down or smooth a jumper nicely over her bust.  Everything that had happened to her seemed natural – love, marriage, the birth of Freddie, then Vera – for she had seen it happen to someone else.

From ‘Attractive Modern Homes’ 1941


Sloping down to the brook, the garden was made devious by swastika hedges: it was all grots and plots.  Japanese plums caught light in their ethereal petals; flowering currants sent out their sweet, hot smell.

From ‘The Easter Egg Party’ 1941

She was lying alone now up there, up in her room, waiting angrily for the sun to go down and the light to go quite out and the darkness to stifle her, lying with the window thrown open expectantly on to the void of sky, waiting to shiver, tossing to and fro in her poor mind while her body lay rigid, silent though she was so pent up, storing up her cries for him.

From Chapter 19 of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


He felt again, through that window behind her, that dark garden distressed by the wind; around her those undisturbed shadows, the never-ebbing, mild light.

From Chapter 20  of ‘The Hotel’ 1927


When I started to see, I saw what looked like a row of corpses, all hanging along on the one wall.  Later, I noticed these were gentlemen’s mackintoshes.  I should have told that first go off, by the smell.  There they all hung, not moving – why should they move?

From ‘Love’ 1935

… so I didn’t say anything – I didn’t want to either.  Because what can you say when you don’t know what you think.  And what can you think when a thing doesn’t make sense?

From ‘Love’ 1935

The differing fortunes of St John’s Wood house property give that uphill landscape a dreamlike inconsistency.  To walk there is to have a crazy architectural film, with no music, reeled past.

From ‘No. 16’ 1935

A wet wind of autumn, smelling of sodden gardens, blew in her face and tilted her hat. Leaves whirled along it, and one lime leaf, as though imploring shelter, lodged in her fur collar.  Every gust did more to sadden the poor trees.

From ‘A Queer Heart’ 1941

From the final chapters of ‘The Hotel’ 1927:


Chapter 21

The disappearance of sunlight from the flowers deadened the colours of them; from being like flames, spontaneous, they became tawdry and adventitious; bougainvillaea traced a heavy pattern on the walls, geraniums were the flat stale pink of old confectionery, and the mimosa blotched the faces of the hills as monotone and pale as mustard. […]

She did not look at her watch, but knew that she had reached that psychological moment, that turning-point of any long wait when the likelihood of a friend’s arrival instead of increasing with the advance of time begins to diminish.

Chapter 22

He could not imagine a time when he would not take a stranger’s pleasure in looking at her across a room. He could not imagine a time when her movements would be calculable to him, or when she would cease to reappear just as he had not expected from behind the veil of his thought.


Chapter 23

…one could look right over a ridge and see a quite unbelievable number of other hills whose similarity to one another made one surprised at the size of the world. […]

The air of the church was stale with the incense of years, the breath of long-dead congregations had not been disturbed; it was cold with the exhalations of stone for ever in darkness. […]

…sleep came up over her like a wave as soon as she shut her eyes, a tall dark wave that gathered itself and waited above her for a moment, so that she was conscious of it before she was conscious of nothing.  Then all night long she was climbing up the endless road again, corner by corner, to an empty town at the top.

Chapter 24

‘Oh no, don’t go.’  But the room seemed too small for three people.

Ronald, seeking for and failing to catch his mother’s eye, looked round him rather confusedly and finally stepped out between the curtains on to the balcony, where he lighted a cigarette and, doubling his elbows under him, leaned forward to stare at the sea.  The exit was not a happy one, in the room behind he remained present yet not present.

Chapter 25

The word ‘obviously’ has always a pained and painful sound when used between people who know each other too well.

The novels from which I shall quote in future will be in this order: ‘The House in Paris’ (1935), ‘Friends and Relations’ (1931), The Death of the Heart (1938), The Heat of the Day (1949), The Little Girls (1964), Eva Trout (1968), A World of Love (1955).  (Leaving the best to last!).  Quotations from the stories will also continue.  If anyone would like to choose the quotes from ‘Brigands’, ‘The Claimant’ and ‘Songs My Father Sang Me’ (stories not included in ‘The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen’), I would be very grateful if you could please send them to me.


But she only bent down more; she curled up like an anemone in an unkind wind.  At the same time, with a frightened obstinacy, her soft lashes strayed down on her cheek. Then she said in her mild voice, without even a falter: ‘But it’s all settled, this morning.  My aunt’s sent the telegrams; she has ordered the taxi. The taxi’s coming at three.’

Francis paused for the last time – the unusual hesitation of someone facing the whole of life.  He said: ‘But you and I cannot have met for nothing.’  But she only raised her hands, which were trembling ever so slightly, and looked again at what had been written there. ‘I can’t change what’s all settled,’ she said.

From ‘The Girl With The Stoop’ 1941


The stern dying go on out without looking back; sleepers go out a short way, never not hearing the vibrations of Paris, a sea-like stirring, horns, echoes indoors, electric bells making stars in the grey swinging silence that never perfectly settles in volutions of streets and empty courts of stone.

From Part I (1) of ‘The House in Paris’ 1935


Spezia offered Leopold almost nothing: his precocity devoured itself there, rejecting the steep sunny coast and nibbling blue edge of the sea that drowned Shelley.  His spirit became crustacean under douches of culture and mild philosophic chat from his Uncle Dee, who was cultured rather than erudite.

From Part I (2) of ‘The House in Paris’ 1935


The magazine perplexed Leopold with its rigid symbolism, Martian ideology.  A veil of foreign sentiment hung over every image, making it unclear.  Once, at the figure of an admiral saluting, something went up in him like a firework.  But he did not know what the magazine was about.  Hoping for something concrete, he went through the advertisements.  He sighed, shifted on his elbow and looked away.

From Part I (3) of ‘The House in Paris’ 1935


Jalousies were pulled to over the far window, so that no light fell across the head of the bed.  A cone of sick-room incense on the bureau sent spirals up the daylight near the door; daylight fell cold white on the honeycomb quilt rolled back.  Round the curtained bedhead, Pompeian red walls drank objects into their shadow; picture-frames, armies of bottles, boxes, an ornate clock showed without glinting, as though not quite painted out by some dark transparent wash.   Henrietta had never been in a room so full and still.  She stood by the door Miss Fisher had shut behind her, with her heart in her mouth.  Her eyes turned despairingly to a bracket on which stood white spiked shells with cameos on their lips.  The airlessness had a strange dry pure physical smell.

From Part I (4) of ‘The House in Paris’ 1935

A death finds you friends, wherever you are.

From ‘The Claimant’ (1955?)


The cautious steps of women when something has happened came downstairs, sending vibrations up the spine of the house.  The women came down with a kind of congested rush, like lava flowing as fast as it can.  The soughing of Miss Fisher’s petticoats made the house sound tiny.  Nothing was said: Henrietta could almost hear them making eyes at each other.

From Part I (5) of ‘The House in Paris’ 1935


Houses asleep with their eyes open watched the vibrating ship pass: against the woody background those red and white funnels must look like a dream.  Seagulls, circling, settled on mown lawns.  The wake made a dark streak in the glassy river; its ripples broke against garden walls.  Every hill running down, each turn of the river, seemed to trap the ship more and cut off the sea. […] Going to meet a stranger or semi-stranger, can you help asking yourself what they are coming to meet?  The sun, melting through the white film, struck the water, and Karen felt reflections playing over her face make bright liquid curves, a smile not her own.

From Part 2 (1) of ‘The House in Paris’ 1935


It is a wary business, walking about a strange house you know you are to know well.  Only cats and dogs with their more expressive bodies enact the tension we share with them at such times.  The you inside you gathers up defensively; something is stealing upon you every moment; you will never be quite the same again.  These new unsmiling lights, reflections and objects are to become your memories, riveted to you closer than friends or lovers, going with you, even, into the grave: worse, they may become dear and fasten like so many leeches on your heart.  By having come, you already begin to store up the pains of going away.

From Part 2 (2) of ‘The House in Paris’ 1935


Looks from trams and voices from public gardens invade the old walled lawns with their grottos and weeping willows.  Spit-and-polish alternates with decay.  But stucco, slate and slate-fronts, blotched Italian pink-wash, dusty windows, lace curtains and dolphin-lions seem to be the eternity of this tram route.  Quite soon the modern will sag, chip, fade.  Change leaves everything at the same level.  Nothing stays bright but mornings.

From ‘Unwelcome Idea’ 1941

Aunt Violet’s probably dying was not only Aunt Violet’s probably dying, it was like ice beginning to move south. […]

“Where would the Irish be without someone to be Irish at?”

From Part 2 (3) of ‘The House In Paris’ 1935


There must be more to Mme Fisher than that: her marked unobservingness and withheld comment gave her terrific power over the girls’ ideas.  They might do as they wished, but did not, for she made it too clear that nothing they did could be what they really wished to do. If she did not apply polish, of which she said she knew nothing, she applied to young wood that emery-friction of satire without which first, no polish will ‘take’. Her non-presence in the salon, on those afternoons when she handed over the rooms to the girls for their friends’ visits, was as constant, uncommenting as the tick of her clock.

From Part 2  (4) of ‘The House In Paris’ 1935


“When we just get the windows back in again – why, madam, I’ll have the drawing-room fit for you in no time! I’ll sheet my furniture till we’re thoroughly swept, then take the electro to the upholstery. Because, look, madam, I don’t think anything’s stained… The clock’s going: listen – would you believe that?  We mustn’t go crying after the curtains, must we?” 

From a monologue (after a 2nd World War bomb) that constitutes the story ‘Oh, Madam…’ 1941


As the sun set its light slowly melted the landscape, till everything was made of fire and glass. Released from the glare of noon, the haycocks now seemed to float on the aftergrass: their freshness generated the air.  In the not far distance hills with woods up their flanks lay in the light like hills in another world – it would be a pleasure of heaven to stand up there, where no foot ever seemed to have trodden, on the spaces between the woods soft as powder dusted over with gold.  Against those hills, the burning red rambler roses in cottage gardens along the roadside looked earthy – they were too near the eye. […]

The small woman drove with her chin up.  Her existence was in her hands on the wheel and in the sole of the foot in which she felt through the sandal, the throbbing pressure of the accelerator. […]

In this dayless glare the girls in bright dresses, strolling, looked like colour-photography. […]

“On the far side of the nothing – my new form.  Scrap ‘me’; scrap my wretched identity and you’ll bring to the open some bud of life.  I not ‘I’ – I’d be the world … You’re right: what you would call thinking does get me rattled.  I only what you call think to excite myself.  Take myself away, and I’d think.  I might see; I might feel purely; I might even love – “ […]

It was Vivie who, turning over and over, watched in the sky behind the cross of the window the tingling particles of the white dark, who heard the moth between the two window-sashes, who fancied she heard apples drop in the grass.  One arbitrary line only divided this child from the animal: all her senses stood up, wanting to run the night.  She swung her legs out of bed and pressed the soles of her feet on the cool floor.  She got right up and stepped out of her nightdress and set out to walk the house in her skin. […]

Aunt Fran looked directly at, then away from, Vivie’s body, as though for the first time.  She drew the eiderdown from the foot of the bed and made a half-blind sweep at Vivie with it, saying: ‘Wrap up, wrap up.’ ‘Oh, they’ll come off – my snakes!’ said Vivie, backing away.  But Aunt Fran, as if the child were on fire, put into motion an extraordinary strength – she rolled, pressed and pounded Vivie up in the eiderdown until only the prisoner’s dark eyes, so like her mother’s, were left free to move wildly outside the great sausage, of padded taffeta, pink.

From ‘Summer Night’ 1941

“I can’t think what Lois can be doing.”  She peered through gaps in the shrubbery towards the gaps in the shrubbery towards the gate of the garden.  This concern for her friend she put up and twirled like a parasol between them.  She sighed: the expansion of he thin little frame, the rise and fall of her two little points of bosom were clearly visible under her white silk jersey.  Her panama hat turned down and light tufts of hair came out in fluttering commas against her cheek bones.

From Chapter 5 of ‘The Last September’ (1929)


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One response to “Elizabeth Bowen Quotes (2)

  1. You can buy all these entrancing Elizabeth Bowen fiction quotes in print.
    Volume Three here contains them: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/contents-of-real-time-reviews-books/

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