Literary Quotations
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DISGRACE

by: J. M. Coetzee


In my experience poetry speaks to you either at first sight or not at all. A flash of revelation and a flash of response. Like lightning. Like falling in love.

--Chapter 2

A woman's beauty does not belong to her alone. It is part of the bounty she brings into the world. She has a duty to share it.

--Chapter 2

If you were blind you would hardly have fallen in love in the first place. But now, do you truly wish to see the beloved in the cold clarity of the visual apparatus? It may be in your better interest to throw a veil over the gaze, so as to keep her alive in her archetypal, goddesslike form.

--Chapter 3

The old men ... the tramps and drifters with their stained raincoats and cracked false teeth and hairy earholes--all of them were once upon a time children of God, with straight limbs and clear eyes. Can they be blamed for clinging to the last to their place at the sweet banquet of the senses?

--Chapter 3

Being a father ... I can't help feeling that, by comparison with being a mother, being a father is a rather abstract business.

--Chapter 7

Long visits don't make for good friends.

--Chapter 7

Despair ... is like a gas, odourless, tasteless, without nourishment. You breathe it in, your limbs relax, you cease to care, even at the moment when the steel touches your throat.

--Chapter 13

Rituals make things easier.

--Chapter 13

Vengeance is like a fire. The more it devours, the hungrier it gets.

--Chapter 13

Either you stay on in a house full of ugly memories and go on brooding on what happened to you, or you put the whole episode behind you and start a new chapter elsewhere. Those, as I see it, are the alternatives.

--Chapter 18