Edna O'brien Quotes

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In our deepest moments we say the most inadequate things.
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Edna O'Brien (A Fanatic Heart)
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Darkness is drawn to light, but light does not know it; light must absorb the darkness and therefore meet its own extinguishment.
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Edna O'Brien (In the Forest)
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When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.
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Edna O'Brien
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We all leave one another. We die, we change - it's mostly change - we outgrow our best friends; but even if I do leave you, I will have passed on to you something of myself; you will be a different person because of knowing me; it's inescapable...
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Edna O'Brien (Girl with Green Eyes (The Country Girls Trilogy, #2))
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She said the reason that love is so painful is that it always amounts to two people wanting more than two people can give.
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Edna O'Brien (Saints and Sinners)
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Writers are always anxious, always on the run--from the telephone, from responsibilities, from the distractions of the world.
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Edna O'Brien
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...people liking you or not liking you is an accident and is to do with them and not you. That goes for love too, only more so.
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Edna O'Brien (Girls in Their Married Bliss (The Country Girls Trilogy, #3))
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That is the mystery about writing: it comes out of afflictions, out of the gouged times, when the heart is cut open.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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The vote means nothing to women. We should be armed.
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Edna O'Brien
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Books everywhere. On the shelves and on the small space above the rows of books and all along the floor and under chairs, books that I have read, books that I have not read.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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Love . . . is like nature, but in reverse; first it fruits, then it flowers, then it seems to wither, then it goes deep, deep down into its burrow, where no one sees it, where it is lost from sight, and ultimately people die with that secret buried inside their souls.
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Edna O'Brien (Lantern Slides: Short Stories)
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I was lonelier than I should be, for a woman in love, or half in love.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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Life was a bitch. Love also was a bitch.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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There was I, devouring books and yet allowing a man who had never read a book to walk me home for a bit of harmless fumbling on the front steps.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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Money talks, but tell me why all it says is just Goodbye.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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It was the first time that I came face to face with madness and feared it and was fascinated by it.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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Sometimes one word can recall a whole span of life.
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Edna O'Brien (The Lonely Girl)
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After that dark woman you search for someone who will fit into the irregular corners of your heart.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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I knew I had done something awful. I had killed love, before I even knew the enormity of what love meant.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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It is impossible to capture the essence of love in writing, only its symptoms remain, the erotic absorption, the huge disparity between the times together and the times apart, the sense of being excluded.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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ุงู„ุฌุณุฏ ูŠุญูˆูŠ ุงู„ูƒุซูŠุฑ ู…ู† ู‚ุตุต ุงู„ุญูŠุงุฉ ุชู…ุงู…ุง ู…ุซู„ ุงู„ู…ุฎ.
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Edna O'Brien
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Oh, love, what an unreasoning creature it grew to be.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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The words ran away with me.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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Brush those tears from your eyes And try and realize That from now on I'll always be true. I went away But I didn't mean to stay And I will regret it until my dying day.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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I crossed the room, and what you did was to feel my hair over and over again and in different ways, touch it, with the palm of your hand... felt it, strands of hair, with your fingers, touched it as if it were cloth, the way a child touches its favorite surfaces.
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Edna O'Brien
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You would not believe how many words there are for 'home' and what savage music there can be wrung from it.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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Oh dark woman With a shawl and ribs I could have served him better With my shanties. But men do love the shimmer And so his ghost Is hacked in half between us The dark me and the dark you.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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Life, after all, was a secret with the self. The more one gave out, the less there remained for the center--that center which she coveted for herself and recognized instantly in others. Fruits had it, the very heart of, say, a cherry, where the true worth and flavor lay. Some of course were flawed or hollow in there. Many, in fact.
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Edna O'Brien (The Country Girls Trilogy And Epilogue)
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In our deepest moments we say the most inadequate things
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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Cities, in many ways, are the best repositories for a love affair. You are in a forest or a cornfield, you are walking by the seashore, footprint after footprint of trodden sand, and somehow the kiss or the spoken covenant gets lost in the vastness and indifference of nature. In a city there are places to remind us of what has been.
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Edna O'Brien (Saints and Sinners)
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I had not realized how far gone she was and how much she dreaded the homecoming, the ghost. We don't know others. They are an enigma. We can't know them, especially those we are most intimate with, because habit blurs us and hope blinds us to the truth.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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The other me, who did not mean to drown herself, went under the sea and remained there for a long time. Eventually she surfaced near Japan and people gave her gifts but she had been so long under the sea she did not recognize what they were. She is a sly one. Mostly at night we commune. Night. Harbinger of dream and nightmare and bearer of omens which defy the music of words. In the morning the fear of her going is very real and very alarming. It can make one tremble. Not that she cares. She is the muse. I am the messenger.
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Edna O'Brien
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Ireland is still what novelist Edna O'Brien calls a "pagan place." But that paganism does not conflict with a devout Catholicism that embraces and absorbs it, in a way that can seem mysterious, even heretical, elsewhere. In Ireland, Christianity arrived without lions and gladiators, survived without autos-da-fe and Inquisitions. The old ways were seamlessly bonded to the new, so that ancient rituals continued, ancient divinities became saints, ancient holy sites were maintained just as they had been for generations and generations.
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Patricia Monaghan (The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog: The Landscape of Celtic Myth and Spirit)
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It was all terrible and tiring and meaningless.
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Edna O'Brien (The Love Object)
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We don't know others. They are an enigma. We can't know them, especially those we are most intimate with, because habit blurs us and hope blinds us to the truth.
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Edna O'Brien
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Yes, the living, the mangled, the scarified, with the crazed responsibility of remembering everything, everything.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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You're a right-looking eejit
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Edna O'Brien (The Country Girls (The Country Girls Trilogy, #1))
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Whenever I look at Edna Oโ€™Brien,โ€ continued Mr.ย Denby-Denby, โ€œI get the impression that she wants to put every man she meets across her knee and give them a good spanking until they show her the proper respect. Oh, to be the bare bottom beneath that alabaster palm!
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John Boyne (The Heart's Invisible Furies)
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Opposite to where she sat the water was a boggy brown, but not too far along it was a dark violet colour, always changing, the way the sweep of the current changed, but as she saw it, her own life did not change at all - the same routine, the same longing and the same loneliness.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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I cannot be certain what I would have said. I knew that there was something sad and faintly distasteful about love's ending, particularly love that has never been fully realised. I might have hinted at that, but I doubt it. In our deepest moments we say the most inadequate things." short story "Sister Imelda
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Edna O'Brien (Returning: A Collection of Tales)
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On the island of tears, we were subjected to every kind of humiliation,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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so many that had died on the scaffold and many more to die including, though she did not know it then, her own son.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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The night before I left home, there was the wake in our kitchen as was the custom for anyone going so far away. The kitchen was full of people, two men left their flash lamps lit
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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She was happy I was home, I would come often, I would be company,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Her little treasures. Each item reminding her of someone or of something.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Gabriel, the man she might have tied the knot with except that it was not meant to be. Putting memories to sleep, like putting an animal down.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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I barely eat cake now. The one Iโ€™m sending you, make a hole on the top with a knitting needle and pour a glass of whiskey into it to keep it moist.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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a stony road, hard on the feet. I would beg for us to sit down but you discouraged it, knowing that sitting was fatal, because of the willpower required to get up again.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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If we are taken all together, we might muster some courage, but from the previous evidence it is likely that we will be taken separately.
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Edna O'Brien
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In the bodily garden the apple lurks.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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moonlight in Mayoโ€ time.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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never forget this moment, the hum of the bee, the saffron threads of the flower, the drawn blinds, natureโ€™s assiduousness and human cruelty.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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he was like a man on the brink of his own creation.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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The wall was a symbol of protests, inch upon inch covered with graffiti, in red, blue, yellow, purple, indigo, magenta, terracotta, a tableau of screaming indignations.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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If the Holy Communion touched my teeth, I thought that was a mortal sin
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Edna O'Brien (Saints and Sinners)
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I had not the heart to tell her that great love stories told of the pain and separateness between men and women.
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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I tend not to look at the prison wall of life, but to look up at the sky, as it is more beautiful and more spacious. Try
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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We don't know others. They are an enigma. We can't know them, especially those we are most intimate with, because habit blurs us and hope blinds us with truth.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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But we want young men. Romance. Love and things,' I said, despondently.
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Edna O'Brien (The Country Girls (The Country Girls Trilogy, #1))
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But we want young men. Romance. Love and things," I said, despondently.
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Edna O'Brien (The Country Girls (The Country Girls Trilogy, #1))
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Their eyes meet and part, each staring into the forlorn space, a shaft of disappointment, he because he is unable to help her and she because she is thrown back into her own quagmire of uncertainty.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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I hear stories. It could be myself telling them to myself or it could be these murmurs that come out of the earth. The earth so old and haunted, so hungry and replete. It talks. Things past and things yet to be.
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Edna O'Brien (House of Splendid Isolation)
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Nothing but rules. Rule the first: no callers at the front door. Rule the second: no callers at the back door. Rule the third: no going out after dark. The six dusters had to be washed each evening and accounted for.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Although one might seem relatively gregarious, the real self is at the desk,โ€ she said. โ€œIt is a trial for relationships, for friendships. Every writer dreads losing the connection to the work, the momentum, and to keep it, you canโ€™t truly be sociable.
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Edna O'Brien
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She was an auxiliary nurse but training to be a true nurse because that was her calling, to serve mankind. She was a Martha. There were Marys and Marthas, but Marys got all the limelight because of being Christโ€™s handmaiden, but Marthas were far more sincere.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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In the first dusk he walks back. Flowers and fallen confetti, from a wedding two days earlier, lie trodden on the wet grass and he knows in his heart that he is sure who he man was, but that nobody in the whole world, not even Tommy, not even Ivan, would believe him.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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She had always thought that people who had once loved one another kept the faintest trace of it in their being, but not him. He was free of her. Marked of course, but free in a way that she was not. She was still joined by fear, by sexual necessity, by what she knew as love.
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Edna O'Brien (The Country Girls (The Country Girls Trilogy, #1))
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My friends I tell you this, we are a jolly group but put us in uniform and all that change. In war I donโ€™t know who my brother. In war I donโ€™t know who my friend. War make everybody savage. Who can say what lies inside the heart of each one of us when everything is taken away.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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But any book that is any good must be, to some extent, autobiographical, because one cannot and should not fabricate emotions; and although style and narrative are crucial, the bulwark, emotion, is what finally matters. With luck, talent, and studiousness, one manages to make a little pearl, or egg, or something . . .
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Edna O'Brien
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FOR THREE NIGHTS in a row, Dilly has dreamed of Gabriel, a look of yearning on his face, the clothes hanging off him, making no attempt to come to her and yet making his presence felt, standing on an empty road, like he was waiting. Three nights in a row. โ€œIt must mean that heโ€™s trying to reach you,โ€ Sister says. โ€œIt doesnโ€™t,โ€ Dilly answers
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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She is also my only friendโ€”apart from Emily Pagett, who reminds me of Baba in The Country Girls (Edna Oโ€™Brien, Hutchinson, 1962), in that she often spreads lies about meโ€”but which I tolerate, because she also tells me gossip about other people, which is fascinating. Even if itโ€™s also not true. I recognize that ultimately you have make your own amusement.
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Caitlin Moran (How to Build a Girl)
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I would not leave a mother alone in her plight. They described how she had kept the news of my brotherโ€™s death from our ailing father and on the evening that he was brought home, chapel bells rang out and kept ringing in honor of him, his valor, and my father kept asking if it was a bishop or something that was visiting the parish, not knowing that it was his own son.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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We were a bookish family. we loved our books, but before long they were lined up next to the stove and my mother and my uncle fought over which should go first and which should be saved to the very last. The Iliad was a beautiful first edition, the pride of our library, but it too went: Agamemnon, king of men, Nestor, flower of Achaean chivalry, the Black Ships, Patroclus' corpse, Helen's bracelets, Cassandra's shrieks, all met the flames, for he sake of two or three suppers. My uncle was loath to let Mark Twain go...Huckleberry Finn and his river did not deserve such an ignominious end.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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I cannot be certain what I would have said. I knew that there was something sad and faintly distasteful about love's ending, particularly love that has never been fully realised. I might have hinted at that, but I doubt it. In our deepest moments we say the most inadequate things." Edna O'Brien, short story "Sister Imelda", in "Returning".
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Edna O'Brien (Country Girl)
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I could feel she was angry with me because of my gawkiness, because of my accent and my oilskin bag, bound with twine. She talked to herself, mumbled, as the train rumbled along. Then all of a sudden her mood changed and she kissed me and hugged me and said my mother and her mother were first cousins and that meant that she and I were second cousins and would be buddies.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Dilly, do not ever forget your own people.โ€ My brother came with me to wait for the mail car. He took off his brown scapulars and gave them to me, it being his way of saying goodbye. โ€œIn your letters, better not mention politics,โ€ he said. He had a secret life from us, he was a Croppy Boy, so many young men were, but dared not speak of it for fear of informers.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Dilly reckons it would be difficult to thread those needles, the eyes so small, especially with her cataracts.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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she wants to give her Rusheen, she wants to go out home just for the day and go back to the same solicitor that she has already been to and make a new will giving her Rusheen. โ€œThereโ€™s no hurry,โ€ Eleanora says. โ€œBut you love it, donโ€™t you?โ€ โ€œYes, I love it.โ€ โ€œThen itโ€™s decided .ย .ย .ย go downstairs to the matron and tell her weโ€™re going out for the day.ย .ย .ย โ€ Eleanora looks rapidly and frantically about
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Strindberg came to the rescue. Why, he had asked her, did every woman he ever met have to bring her bloody mother into the bed, every bloody woman, including his own wife, Siri. โ€œYou have a wife,โ€ she had said.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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suddenly the window flew open, swung back and forth on its hinges, as if something was about to come in, and she waited in dread for what that something might be.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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her husband a grown man, afraid to sleep alone in his own house, he who for many a year struck terror into her and Eleanora.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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she sees her life pass before her in rapid succession, like clouds, different shapes and different colors, merging, passing into one another, the story of her life being pulled out of her, like the pages pulled from a book.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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wherever there were horses or ponies the mushrooms always sprang up.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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A mother with an infant but without a father was not welcomed in the new world. โ€œYou kilt it.โ€ โ€œShe kilt it.โ€ โ€œI had no milk for it,โ€ she answered back.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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is the unseen guest at every table, the silent listener to every conversationโ€โ€”her mother thereby inferring that she too would be the unseen guest and the silent listener to every conversation.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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She had eloped in a trance, in haste, her docility a mask, a thousand hers revolting within herself and toward him. Yet coexisting with her flounder was the hope that one evening he would call her into his study and they would talk openly, talk of the things that had kept them apart and from their candor there would be born a real love, a lasting love that they had both envisaged. ย  The news of her pregnancy elated him.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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it would bring good luck. It was a silverfish with gold-threaded scales and when she put it in the palm of my hand, I felt it spring backward as if it was a real fish, something telling in it.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Mr. Coaxyoram himself and many a young girl soft on him, but oh, what a gentleman and from a scion of gentlemen. I learned that it was his horse, Red River, that would be played for. He had given it to his friend Jacksie who had lost his all gambling, and the lady heโ€™d been engaged to had jilted him and had not even returned the engagement ring that was his motherโ€™s, which was an heirloom.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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The players were mostly seated, itching to begin, impatient men shuffling the packs of cards, a center lamp on each table, and a hail of welcome as Cornelius entered.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Cornelius and Iggy were in the final round and their opponents, who were from the city, displeased and spiteful, not a sound in that room until, at the very zenith, cries of disbelief as it turned out that Cornelius had the knave, the ace, and the king, each of which he threw down with a braggart air and Iggy pooled the winning cards onto his lap. They were the joint winners.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Because I had hankered to go back to America, my husband-to-be agreed that we could go there for a year, while the building work was being done.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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THE TWO OTHER GIRLS in the room, Mabel and Deirdre, said I imagined it. But they were wrong. My brother appeared to me there. A beam of light from the streetlamp lay in a crooked zigzag along the floor, toward the bed, and my brother stepped onto it, his face pensive but not crying, dressed as he might be for a wedding, his good suit, his collar and tie, and not a mark on him, no bloodstain,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Michael, my darling light. Be sure to have Masses said for the repose of his soul and for us. Your loving mother, Bridget
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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She knows Conโ€™s habits, piling on turf and logs, mad for the big blaze, reckless with firewood like there was no tomorrow.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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one thing she does not want to come home to is the after-smell of milk gone sour, a lingering smell that disgusts her and reminds her of sensations she darenโ€™t recall.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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she goes out to the clothesline to hang a few things, his things, her things, and a load of tea cloths.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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tears running down her cheeks and her nose, tears from the cold and the prospect of being absent for weeks.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Rusheen was theirs, the old faithful trees keeping watch and enough head of cattle to defray expenses for at least six months or so to come.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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nerves and the toll of the shingles, telling her that the shingles made people depressed, that and other bull, how shingles took a long time to abate, and she telling him that they never abated, that they were always there, worse before rain, barometers of a sort. Patsy, who had done a bit of nursing, coming twice a week to her rescue, bathed the sores, remembered a few things from her nursing days, what ointment to apply,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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that circular loop was fatal. Patsy giving them their Latin name, herpes zoster, describing how the pain attacked the line of the nerves, something Dilly knew beyond the Latin words when she had wept night after night, as they oozed and bled, when nothing, no tablet, no prayer, no interceding, could do anything for her, a punishment so acute that she often felt one half of her body was in mutiny against
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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A healer! The beauty of the word a balm. In a mounting astonishment she hears how this man heals with his own blood, pricks his own finger, rubs the blood onto the scab, smears it all over the patient,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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He never studied, not a paper, not a textbookย .ย .ย .ย the books he reads are the people that come to him,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Ice was precious.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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That was the thing about America, people always moving on, so that a girl had to snap up a beau as fast as she could.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Wakened one morning in some dive to know the game was up. Nausea, the shivers, the disease that bums, stevedores, poets, and the city elders all fell foul to. The syph. Had to be burned out of him. Oh man, the mercury that cured also took away, a descent into blindness. โ€œI have sewed sackcloth upon my skin and defiled my horn in the dust.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Everything hinged on money,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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most prized of all, her secretaire, a Napoleon III desk, full of nooks and crannies and pigeonholes,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Solveig was higher up than me. She had a white apron. She was the cook. Sieving and singing hymns that her pastor in Sweden had taught her. Her eyes were the beautiful twinkling blue of a sleeping doll.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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lunch parties that the missus had for her girlfriends. Mamie and Gertie and Peg and Eunice. They were forever saying each otherโ€™s names. Mamie and Gertie and Peg and Eunice, all the size of her, boasting about the presents their husbands gave them for their birthdays
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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It was no longer her sleeping room, it was our sleeping room now. We made friends the night it thundered, big claps of it and forked lightning flared then sizzled inside the room, she cowering under my bed, terrified that Eric Eric, the man with the clapper who broke up the big ships in the harbor in Malmo, was coming for her.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Is that Rococo, Pascal?โ€ Chrissie said as she stood by the missusโ€™s desk, peering into the nests of pigeonholes and cubbies. โ€œOh, donโ€™t touch there or youโ€™ll be shot,โ€ Pascal said, because it was where the missus kept her souvenirs, love letters from men before him, locks of hair, dried shamrock, and the words of songs that she rehearsed for her parties. Her family was musical,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Chrissie tried all the chairs, the armchairs, the high chairs, the spindle-back chairs, โ€œIs that apple wood, is that tulip wood, is that rosewood, Pascal?โ€ People pitying her with her limp, in a yellow summery dress with a wide green sash as if she was entering a dance competition. Remarking on the holly to be so rich with berries, she said a good crop of berries always meant an addition to the family,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Jenny is super duperโ€ was the answer back. Jenny knew how to humor the missus, calling her a slip of a girl and drawing attention to every feature of her attire, down to the velvet shoes, that would you believe it were called mules, mules with a field of flowers and medallions on them, like a carpet.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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The punch was getting to them, their faces redder and small tiffs between couples,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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the lonely evening sound of the mothers, saying it is not our fault that we weep so, it is natureโ€™s fault that makes us first full, then empty.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Horses are the ruination of everyone, your father has a craze for them but then we all do crazy things.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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remember love is all bull, the only true love is that between mother and child.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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There was a cry that must have been mine
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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it was then I cried, cried for the fact of not having cried and for the immensity of tears yet to be shed.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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If I could feel like myself Iโ€™d thank God but I donโ€™t feel and never will.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Silage making is more practical than saving hay. When you watch an animal die you think how sad it must be to see a human die. My best days I have seen out.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Quite unselfconsciously she ran her hands along her neck, all along the sides and then to the back to feel the stiffnesses, and though she had not asked me I felt without the words that she wished me to massage her and I did, searching out the knots and the crick, then along the nape, under her swallow, holding the bowl of her head in my hands, entreating her to let go, to let go of all her troubles
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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a mammyโ€™s boy who never married and who keeps a shotgun in case of trespassers, but loves his trees, loves his woodland, and honors a covenant set down by his great-uncle, which was that no tree should ever be wantonly cut down.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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My mother is dead, my mother is dead,โ€ she kept saying it in her numbed state, because it had not sunk in. It is outside of her, it is a figment, both because it is so sudden and because she cannot pinpoint the exact moment, it being such and such a time in one land and a different time on the clock of the other. It had happened in lost time. The three previous days are jumbled,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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thanking them for coming, and reminding Con to give the dog a bit of something when he gets home late, she forgets altogether to hand him the letter. Holding it after he has left she thinks of the many crucial things left unsaid.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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The curtain of worldly desire must be ripped in half and I must look into my own soul and overcome the pit of hell. โ€˜I am in hell,โ€™ I blurted to her. She almost struck me with her raised withered hand. After that it was banishment. I was sent to a sister house in Ballinasloe, silence and meditation, excused from all manual work, alone with myself, no patients to occupy the welter of my thoughts.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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laughter filling that end of the ward, overflowing, one bringing a chair for Eleanora, another a cup of coffee, marveling that at long last she has come, they fearing, as her mother feared, that she had gone somewhere as far-flung as Peru, but at least it was only Denmark and for a conference, as theyโ€™d been told, to do with her work.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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motherless mothers with their skinless mysteries.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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her untimely death. Death for her meant death for us both.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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divide things equally between both children? If anything should happen to her she is appealing to him to honor this final wish. It is the first letter she has written to her husband in over fifty years, an admission that makes her choke back a tear. Fifty years. The golden jubilee that neither remembered. Fields let for grazing. No more the proud neighing thoroughbreds in the fields, the thoroughbreds on which his hopes centered
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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That was Gabriel. Iโ€™d wronged him and he paid me back. Iโ€™d been told that he was going with another girl when he wasnโ€™t, at the time he was sick, unconscious, after an accident in Wisconsin hauling timber, but these two girls, these two friends, deceived me into believing that I was jilted, which I wasnโ€™t.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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A work is completed without deference to a husband, an absurd epic of maudlin childhood is about to be sent to a pimp, before a husband is allowed to correct it,โ€ he said seething. โ€œYou would only tinker with it,โ€ she said fearless, though fearing.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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I donโ€™t call it hate .ย .ย .ย I call it an awakening .ย .ย .ย you were the girl I chose, pure, loyal, untainted, an exemplary wife, and instead I get a schemer, plotting to pursue her own rotten ambition under the rubric of poetry .ย .ย .ย what a mockery, what a marriage.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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holidays took the poisons out of everyday life.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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they donโ€™t talk at all only fight, the motherโ€™s will was unclear, Edward got a field up the Commons that William wanted to build on for the remarkable view and there followed dispute and foul play, a stream de-routed, a stream that animals drank from, Edward concluded it was his brotherโ€™s dirty work
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Your brother says he will sever all ties with us unless we do as he asks and sign Rusheen over to him.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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You are never out of my mind. I feel the cold more than I used to and this house is big,
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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You might have written. Every bit of your daily life interests me. I wrote this day fortnight but it was returned. Tampered with.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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They have decided to chance it, the healerโ€™s farm being only twenty miles off the main road and in her now, gusts of hope, the morbid gloom of earlier brushed away. Something so sacred about this man using his own blood, as did the Savior.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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pouring her troubles out in order for her daughter to know the deep things, the wounds she had to bear:
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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I wish youโ€™d come for six months. I seem to have got a big burst of energy writing this whereas sometimes I havenโ€™t enough strength to hold pen or pencil. You will find that one day as you get older. I worry about you and your traveling to the different places. Nowhere is safe now. My undying love to you.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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four of us slept in the one bed, two at the bottom and two at the top. All of us tossed and turned and raved in our sleep.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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evening when I got back from the convent where I worked part-time my clothes were in a bundle on the step, my name in big print on a label on top. At first I thought it was a joke, but when I examined it I saw that every stitch I owned was in there, my pleated skirt, my good shoes, laddered stockings, my brush and comb, my prayer book, everything.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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The day I brought my suicide dream he got quite conversant. The dream was thus. I had gone to Holland to avail myself of their suicide hospitality. It was a sort of garage, the light from the fluorescent tubes ghastly bright. We were told to sit for a given time. The waiting was perhaps to allow the sufferers to make peace with themselves or maybe write a last letter to kith and kin. Not once did we acknowledge one another.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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like a bell at the interval in the theater, and we all stood up and formed an orderly line to go in and meet our end. At the very last minute I panicked. I realized that my children would see it as an everlasting betrayal and so I went to an attendant and asked to be excused, to be allowed to turn back, except that it was too late.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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I had clung to the fable of the Steppenwolf, believing that his redemption would also become mine.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Oh Father, oh Mother, forgive us, for we know not what we do.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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Two or three people had gone to Limerick and bought 'The Country Girls.' The parish priest asked them to hand in the books, which they did, and he burnt them on the grounds of the church.
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Edna O'Brien
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After we had drunk the sherry I bought cider for us, and we were a little tipsy as we swayed on the high stools and looked out at the rain as it fell on the fields that shot past the train. But being tipsy we did not see very much and the rain did not touch us.
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Edna O'Brien
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Fiction should be in its way subversive. I don't think books should be neat or gentle or genteel or comforting. I think they should be raw. They should be written as perfectly as possible, but what they do is to stir up, to lance the reader.
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Edna O'Brien
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I am far from those I am with, and far from those I have left.
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Edna Oโ€™Brien
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There are no beautiful women writers.โ€™ โ€˜Yes there are.โ€™ No there arenโ€™t. Well, except for Edna Oโ€™Brien, who is actually a kind of genius and gained my undying admiration when she said plots are for precocious schoolboys (Book 2,738, Writers at Work, The Paris Review Interviews, 7th Series, Secker & Warburg, London). โ€˜Here, look at Emily Dickinson,โ€™ I said, and showed him the passport-sized photo on the back cover of the Collected Poems. โ€˜Her face, two prunes in porridge.โ€™ โ€˜I donโ€™t know, I think she looks nice,โ€™ he said. โ€˜Nice?โ€™ โ€˜She does. She looks interesting.โ€™ Reader, pick any Brontรซ. Any one, doesnโ€™t matter. What do you see? You see intelligence, you see an observer, you see distance, you donโ€™t see beauty.
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Niall Williams (History of the Rain)
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Oh, God, who does not exist, you hate women, otherwise you'd have made them different. And Jesus, who snubbed your mother, you hate them more. Roaming around all that time with a bunch of men, fishing; and sermons-on-the-mount. Abandoning women. I thought of all the women who had it, and didn't even know when the big moment was, and others saying their rosary with the beads held over the side of the bed, and others saying, "Stop, stop, you dirty old dog," and others yelling desperately to be jacked right up to their middles, and it often leading to nothing, and them getting up out of bed and riding a poor door knob and kissing the wooden face of a door and urging with foul language, then crying, wiping the knob, and it all adding up to nothing either.
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Edna O'Brien (Girls in Their Married Bliss (The Country Girls Trilogy, #3))
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The vote, I thought, means nothing to women. We should be armed. Edna Oโ€™Brien
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John Ringo (To Sail a Darkling Sea (Black Tide Rising, #2))
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The question that perplexed him was how to get back the something he had lost. That something lost to modern man, call it soul, call it harmony, call it God. By withdrawing from the world and giving himself up to the magic carpet of learning, he entered, as he said, the rose garden of knowledge, esoterica, dream divination and trance. With careful study he arrived at a simple observation, which is the analogy of opposites and from that he hit upon the idea of combining ancient medicine with modern science, a synthesis of old and new, the one enriched by the other.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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Writing is the product of a deeply disturbed psyche, and by no means therapeutic.
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Edna O'Brien
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We have a gray stone house with stone slates on the roof and wooden beams inside, and whitewashed bumpety walls and pots for flowers everywhere; the boards creak and he loves me, and there is something about having a child and being in a valley, and being loved, that is more marvelous than anything you or I ever knew about in our flittery days.
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Edna O'Brien (The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue)
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We all leave one another. We die, we change - it's mostly change - we outgrow our best friends; but even if I do leave you, I will have passed on to you something of myself; you will be a different person because of knowing me; it's inescapable...
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Edna O'Brien (The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue)
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. . . any book that is any good must be, to some extent, autobiographical, because one cannot and should not fabricate emotions; and although style and narrative are crucial, the bulwark, emotion, is what finally matters.
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Edna O'Brien
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Only fools think that men and women love differently. Fools and pedagogues. I tell you, the love of men for women is just as heartbreaking, just as muddled, just as bewildering, and in the end, just as unfinished.
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Edna O'Brien
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The place was stifling. Suddenly it occurred to her that a trace of him still lurked in her, minute and spectral, that effluvial stain that would be her stigmata forever. It was then that she resolved to ask for an appointment to see him, as things had to be settled between them.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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It was Fidelma's favourite walk, a winding path by the river in the Castle grounds. The Castle with its turrets and ivied walls was a five-star hotel which attracted celebrities and regulars who came for the fishing and shooting. She could do that walk in her sleep, over the bridge, down three steps, by a sign that read 'Please Close the Gate' and all of a sudden the sound of the river, squeezing its way under the bridge and then bursting out as it opened into a wide sweep, making its way upstream, girdling the small islands that it passed. The sound was like water bursting in childbirth, or so a woman who had had many children once told her, and she remembered it.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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The difference in their age had begun to matter, she had just turned forty and Jack was in his sixties, no longer the 'Brooding Heathcliff' that used to sign birthday cards to her. He wanted less and less to meet people, keeping her to himself, shutting the world out, drawing the heavy velvet curtains too early on a bright evening. If she announced that they might invite a few friends, he worried, began to wonder what time these friends might arrive and more importantly, what time they would leave.
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Edna O'Brien (The Little Red Chairs)
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Flaubert claimed that we each have a royal room in our hearts into which only very few are admitted.
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Edna O'Brien (The Light of Evening)
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like what Martin Amis said: deploring egotism in novelists is like deploring violence in boxers. There was a time when everyone understood this. And there was a time when young writers believed that writing was a vocationโ€”like being a nun or a priest, as Edna Oโ€™Brien said. Remember?โ€ โ€œYes, as I also remember Elizabeth Bishop saying thereโ€™s nothing more embarrassing than being a poet. The problem of self-loathing isnโ€™t new. Whatโ€™s new is the idea that itโ€™s the people with the history of greatest injustice who have the greatest right to be heard, and that the time has come for the arts not just to make room for them but to be dominated by them.
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Sigrid Nunez (The Friend)
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like what Martin Amis said: deploring egotism in novelists is like deploring violence in boxers. There was a time when everyone understood this. And there was a time when young writers believed that writing was a vocationโ€”like being a nun or a priest, as Edna Oโ€™Brien said. Remember?โ€ โ€œYes, as I also remember Elizabeth Bishop saying thereโ€™s nothing more embarrassing than being a poet. The problem of self-loathing isnโ€™t new. Whatโ€™s new is the idea that itโ€™s the people with the history of greatest injustice who have the greatest right to be heard, and that the time has come for the arts not just to make room for them but to be dominated by them.โ€ โ€œItโ€™s kind of a double bind, though, isnโ€™t it. The privileged shouldnโ€™t write about themselves, because that furthers the agenda of the imperialist white patriarchy. But they also shouldnโ€™t write about other groups, because that would be cultural appropriation.
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Sigrid Nunez (The Friend)
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Do writers have to be such monsters in order to create? I believe that they do. It is a paradox that while wrestling with language to capture the human condition they become more callous, and cut off from the very human traits which they so glistening depict. There can be no outer responsibility, no interruptions, only the ongoing inner drone, rhythmic, insistent, struggling to make a living moment of both beauty and austerity.
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Edna O'Brien (James Joyce)