“If I told you that I have loved other women I would be a despicable liar. I thought I did, however; I forced myself to bind my heart to other passions, but it slid over them as if over ice. When you are a child, you have read so many books about love, you find the very word so melodious, you dream of it so much, you have such strong yearning to experience that feeling which makes you quiver when you read novels and dramas, that at every woman you see you say to yourself: isn’t this love? You endeavour to love so as to make a man of yourself. I have been no more immune than any other man from that childish weakness; I have sighed like an elegiac poet, and after many efforts I was quite astonished to find myself sometimes managing for a fortnight without having gone over to the woman I had chosen as the object of my dreams.”
– Memoirs of a Madman by Gustave Flaubert.
“No matter! She was not happy, had never been so. Where did it come from, this feeling of deprivation, this instantaneous decay of the things in which she put her trust?… But, if there were somewhere a strong and beautiful creature, a valiant nature full of passion and delicacy in equal measure, the heart of a poet in the figure of an angel, a lyre with strings of steel, sounding to the skies the elegiac epithalamia, why should she not, fortuitously, find such a one? What an impossibility! Nothing, anyway, was worth the great quest; it was all lies! Every smile concealed the yawn of boredom, every joy a malediction, every satisfaction brought its nausea, and even the most perfect kisses only leave upon the lips a fantastical craving for the supreme.”
– Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.
“I love the way he looks at me. Shy and half-cocked as though he is caught off guard, like he is retracing his steps to remember all the ways to make me smile. He brings me flowers every Sunday and tells me stories about mermaids and sirens with their sharp claws and beguiling lips. He says I remind him of the sea and attaches me to a metaphor I’ve never heard before, when I thought I must have heard them all. I think someone broke his heart once and now he can’t bear to be apart from the ocean. He said it’s strange how the smallest things can wreck a ship. Like a rock, or a wave, or a hairline crack in the hull. He calls me his little stowaway and he says it sadly, tenderly, as though I can sink him.”
– Memories by Lang Leav.
“One of the men of the manor leans forward now. “What was it like to kiss such a lass?” There is a longing in his voice. This is more than lechery – those gathered here yearn for the touch of a woman tender and soft. I see in their faces an aching hunger for a woman’s grace, all her winsome ways.”
– Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes.
“I would not order you; and if you change your mind now, I would not have you do it with me. Be whatever you want, and I will bury him. It seems fair for me to die doing it. I will lie dear to him, with one dear to me, a holy outlaw, since I must please those below a longer time than people here, for I shall lie there forever. You, though, dishonor the gods’ commands, if you wish.”
– Antigone by Sophocles.
“Ismene, my dear sister through common blood, do you know of any evil from Oedipus Zeus will not perform on us who still live? For I have seen nothing – nothing painful, nothing mad or shameful or dishonorable – that is not among your or my sorrows.”
– Antigone by Sophocles.
“But then he knew nothing was gained – for how could the brain generate the soul? A woman can beget a child, and that was wondrous enough. But the child’s brain was the true father of the soul, the one who could engender consciousness, giving birth to it every time it woke, or every time it dreamed. Flesh could give rise to flesh, an earthly embrace could grow new seeds, it was a marvel, but it was not a miracle. How could mere matter generate mind? It was a mystery, stranger than an immaculate conception, an impossibility that defied belief. Perhaps there was a special part of the brain, an inner sanctum where consciousness’s conception was celebrated. Perhaps there was a pivot point where transubstantiation could transpire, not from bread to body, but from brain to soul.”
– Phi by Giulio Tononi.
“Dull is the brain, its center thin, and shadows only come together there; but the soul, the soul wants more than just a place to dwell – the soul is not a point at all.”
– Phi (The Dream of Galileo) by Giulio Tononi.
“During the ten years that were to elapse between Hugh Person’s first and second visits to Switzerland he earned his living in the various dull ways that fall to the lot of brilliant young people who lack any special gift or ambition and get accustomed to applying only a small part of their wits to humdrum and charlatan tasks. What they do with the other, much greater, portion, how and where their real fancies and feelings are housed, is not exactly a mystery – there are no mysteries now – but would entail explications and revelations too sad, too frightful, to face. Only experts, for experts, should probe a mind’s misery.”
– Transparent Things by Vladimir Nabokov.
“I am ready to believe that the sensations I derived from natural fornication were much the same as those known to normal big males consorting with their normal big mates in that routine rhythm which shakes the world. The trouble was that those gentlemen had not, and I had, caught glimpses of an incomparably more poignant bliss. The dimmest of my pollutive dreams was a thousand times more dazzling than all the adultery the most virile writer of genius or the most talented impotent might imagine.”
– Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.