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I recently turned up an old copybook I kept in the early 70s, which has become practically archaeological it's so long ago.  The texts I copied were mostly far older, and the sensibility that chose them likewise. I can't reproduce my reasons now for starting it, but like the diaries I kept at the time, solitude was certainly a part of it, and of course the lack of blogs, since the invention of which we no longer, etc., and anyway I thought I'd mash the two modes and retail my copybook here, or as much of it as I care to type out.

The original is a red fabric-bound sewn hardback book about the dimensions of a mass-market paperback, containing some hundred pages, about half of which I filled before getting bored.  It was begun, says the incipit, February 1975.  I would make entries when something in my reading struck me --more often something somebody else was quoting than something I found myself -- and when I had the book handy.

I don't make any claim as to the accuracy of the quotations, or the sources, most of which are minimally noted; or the correctness quotes or names in languages other than English; or about anything at all.  Some of them will be very familiar -- especially at the beginning -- others less so.  Most are in effect the gleanings of an autodidact; I didn't know how common these commonplaces were.  Some of them became epigraphs for parts of Little, Big, or went on to do other duties in work of mine.  I repeoduce them here as they appear in the book.

How small, of all that human hearts endure
That part that laws or kings can cause -- or cure.
                   Samuel Johnson

The dry light of
delirium tremens.
                   Henry Adams

His "great Work" (it may be philosophy or biography now, and is certainly to be begun, after a series of long walks, this very spring) only takes shape, I believe, in that hour between tea and dinner, when so many things appear not merely possible but achieved.
                   Virginia Woolf

Never pretend that the things you haven't got are not worth having.
                   Virginia Woolf

Virtue she finds too painful an endeavor
Content to dwell in decencies forever.

What thoug lovest well shall not be reft from thee

I feel oppressed by an error of mind which offends me both as unjust and even more as annoying.  I try to correct it, but I cannot root it out.  It is that I attach too little value to things I possess, just because I possess them; and overvalue anything strange, absent, and not mine.  This frame of mine extends very far.
                   Montaigne, "On Presumption"
What could be more obvious than that?  But it does indeed "extend very far."  It is a proposition about the nature of
                   John Bayley, on the above

I, who boast of embracing the pleasures of life so assiduously and so particularly, find in them, when I look at them thus minutely, virtually nothing but wind.  But what of it, we are all wind...

Those who had the entree entered the private apartments by the mirror-door that gave onto the gallery and was kept shut.  It was only opened when one scratched at it and was closed again immediately.

Your shock is the shock that attends all new and sudden acquisitions of knowledge.  Things go on behind your back, and you resent this.  You're reminded that not even youth possesses total awareness of the magnitude, subtlety, and horror of Life's hidden engines.
                ANthony Burgess,

Arti is infinite, its rewards an empty dream:  only the labor is real.

Human knowledge will be erased from the archives of the world before man possesses the last word about even a gnat.
                   Henri Fabre

Dennis listened to the tones so often parodied yet never more absurd or hypnotic than the original.  His interest was no longer purely technical nor purely satiric. Whispering Glades held him in thrall.  In a zone of insecurity in the mind where none but the artist dare trespass, the tribes were mustering.  Dennis, the frontier-man, could read the signs.
                   Evelyn Waugh,
The Loved One

 The mean and narrow outlook of the pedant, whom those who are the most contemptuous of him in the impartiality of their own minds are only too prone to copy when they are obliged to play a part upon the vulgar stage of life.
Swann's Way

Once he [Modigliani] told me that he was interested in aviators (nowadays we say pilots) but once, when he met one of them, he was disappointed:  they turned out to be simply sportsmen (what did he expect?).
                   Anna Akhmatova

More to come....


Mar. 14th, 2008 12:46 pm (UTC)
I see it too! Whoa!

Well, not exactly deliberate -- I thought I was posting it on my Custom Page Design slots in the right place to have it come up on the top banner, but apparently it's in the wrong place, and wants to come up as the background to the whole page, and then can't -- or soemthing. I think I'll leave it this way.