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JOHN FOWLES QUOTES


The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969)

Perhaps I am writing a transposed autobiography; perhaps I now live in one of the houses I have brought into the fiction; perhaps Charles is myself in disguise. Perhaps it is only a game. Modern women like Sarah exist, and I have never understood them.

All through human history the elect have made their cases for election. But Time allows only one plea ... the elect, whatever the particular grounds they advance for their cause, have introduced a finer and fairer moraltity in to this dark world. If they fail at that test, then they become no more than despots, sultans, mere seekers after their own pleasure and power.

She reached then and took his recalcitrant right hand and led it under her robe to her bare breast. He felt the stiff point of flesh in the center of his palm. Her hand drew his head to hers, and they kissed, as his hand, now recalling forbidden female flesh, silken and swollen contours, a poem forgotten, sized and approved the breast then slid deeper and lower inside her robe to the incurve of her waist. She was naked, and her mouth tasted faintly of onions.... She made no advances after that first leading of his hand; she was his passive victim, her head resting on his shoulder, marble made warmth, an Etty nude, the Pygmalion myth brought to a happy end.

If an artist is not his own sternest judge, he is not fit to be an artist.

The colors of the young lady's clothes would strike us today as distinctly strident; but the world was then in the first throes of the discovery of aniline dyes. And what the feminine, by way of compensation for so much else in her expected behavior, demanded of a color was brilliance, not discretion.

An easterly is the most disagreeable wind in Lyme Bay--Lyme Bay being that largest bite from the underside of England's outstretched southwestern leg--and a person of curiosity could at once have deduced several strong probabilities about the pair who began to walk down the quay at Lyme Regis, the small but ancient eponym of the inbite, one incisively sharp and blustery morning in the late March of 1867.

Your father ventured the opinion that Mr. Darwin should be exhibited in a cage in the zoological gardens. In the monkey house. I tried to explain some of the scientific arguments behind the Darwinian position. I was unsuccessful.... He did say that he would not let his daughter marry a man who considered his grandfather to be an ape. But I think on reflection he will recall that in my case it was a title ape.

I am his amanuensis. His assistant.... I am at last arrived, or so it seems to me, where I belong. I say that most humbly. I have no genius myself. I have no more than the capacity to aid genius in very small and humble ways.

She was the remarkable creature of his happier memories -- but blossomed, realized, winged from the black pupa.

The supposed great misery of our century is the lack of time; our sense of that, not a disinterested love of science, and certainly not wisdom, is why we devote such a huge proportion of the ingenuity and income of our societies to finding faster ways of doing things--as if the final aim of mankind was to grow closer not to a perfect humanity, but to a perfect lightning flash.

Such a sudden shift of sexual key is impossible today. A man and a woman are no sooner in any but the most casual contact than they consider the possibility of a physical relationship. We consider such frankness about the real drives of human behavior healthy, but in Charles's time private minds did not admit the desires banned by the public mind; and when the consciousness was sprung on by these lurking tigers it was ludicrously unprepared.

Though one may keep the wolves from one's door, they still howl out there in the darkness.

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