Top Ten Tuesday is a meme now hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl, and this week’s topic was Top Ten Favorite Quotes. I needed a bit more direction than that because I have a hard time remembering specific quotes I loved in novels, so I decided to restrict the playing field to my favorite classics of all time.
Definitely not an easy feat but I decided to stick with one book from each of my Top 10 favorite classic authors, so they’d all be represented. If they’re on this list, you can assume I pretty much love every single one of their titles that I’ve read. They’re not in any specific order because it was just too hard as always to pick favorites, except for the fact that Middlemarch and The Idiot being at the top is not entirely coincidental.
Middle March by George Eliot
“Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
“Do you know, to my thinking it’s a good thing sometimes to be absurd; it’s better in fact, it makes it easier to forgive one another, it’s easier to be humble. One can’t understand everything at once, we can’t begin with perfection all at once! In order to reach perfection one must begin by being ignorant of a great deal. And if we understand things too quickly, perhaps we shan’t understand them thoroughly.”
Sense And Sensibility By Jane Austen
“What do you know of my heart? What do you know of anything but your own suffering. For weeks, Marianne, I’ve had this pressing on me without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature. It was forced on me by the very person whose prior claims ruined all my hope. I have endured her exultations again and again whilst knowing myself to be divided from Edward forever. Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have provided proof enough of a broken heart, even for you.”
The Europeans by Henry James
” ‘Well, I am rather afraid of that visit,’ said Clifford. ‘It seems to me it will be rather like going to school again.’ The Baroness looked at him a moment. ‘My dear child,’ she said, ‘there is no agreeable man who has not, at some moment, been to school to a clever woman–probably a little older than himself. And you must be thankful when you get your instructions gratis. With me you would get it gratis.’ ”
War And Peace by Leo Tolstoy
“Yes, love, …but not the love that loves for something, to gain something, or because of something, but that love that I felt for the first time, when dying, I saw my enemy and yet loved him. I knew that feeling of love which is the essence of the soul, for which no object is needed. And I know that blissful feeling now too. To love one’s neighbours; to love one’s enemies. To love everything – to Love God in all His manifestations.”
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
“I wish to Heaven I was married,” she said resentfully as she attacked the yams with loathing. “I’m tired of everlastingly being unnatural and never doing anything I want to do. I’m tired of acting like I don’t eat more than a bird, and walking when I want to run and saying I feel faint after a waltz, when I could dance for two days and never get tired. I’m tired of saying, ‘How wonderful you are!’ to fool men who haven’t got one-half the sense I’ve got, and I’m tired of pretending I don’t know anything, so men can tell me things and feel important while they’re doing it… I can’t eat another bite.”
East Of Eden by John Steinbeck
“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”
The House Of Mirth by Edith Wharton
“There is someone I must say goodbye to. Oh, not you – we are sure to see each other again – but the Lily Bart you knew. I have kept her with me all this time, but now we are going to part, and I have brought her back to you – I am going to leave her here. When I go out presently she will not go with me. I shall like to think that she has stayed with you.”
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
“The hidden and awful Wisdom which apportions the destinies of mankind is pleased so to humiliate and cast down the tender, good, and wise; and to set up the selfish, the foolish, or the wicked. Oh, be humble, my brother, in your prosperity! Be gentle with those who are less lucky, if not more deserving. Think, what right have you to be scornful, whose virtue is a deficiency of temptation, whose success may be a chance, whose rank may be an ancestor’s accident, whose prosperity is very likely a satire.”
Wives And Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
“I daresay it seems foolish; perhaps all our earthly trials will appear foolish to us after a while; perhaps they seem so now to angels. But we are ourselves, you know, and this is now, not some time to come, a long, long way off. And we are not angels, to be comforted by seeing the ends for which everything is sent.”
Have you read any of these classics? Do they make your list of favorite ones? Let me know in the comments!
For more recent posts on Novels And Nonfiction check out my post on the Zadie Smith And Michael Chabon Author Event I attended, the 10 March 2018 Book Release I’m Looking Forward To and my reviews of The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin and The Stowaway by Laurie Gwen Shapiro.
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