Friday, March 6, 2015

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

 A full-blown classic! I'm so glad I came across my 2010 review of The Woman in White. I gave myself the task of reading four more classics this year, and I've managed to read one (and listen to a lot) but this is just the post I needed to motivate me again. Proof that the classics are so good. Also, I just have to point out that in my brief graduate school stint at Texas Tech, I proofread the computer renderings of this work's original serialization in All The Year Round. It was epic.

My most recent accomplishment in the world of literature is Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White. Seriously amazing. It's full of beautifully crafted characters, mystery, suspense, humor, and an incredibly tantalizing plot that you don't get to the bottom of until the very end of the book.


Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book. All of them are brilliantly stated, most are hilarious thoughts.

I had just enough to do, in mounting my employer's drawings, to keep my hands and eyes pleasurably employed, while my mind was left free to enjoy the luxury of its own unbridled thoughts. A perilous solitude, for it lasted long enough to enervate, not long enough to fortify me. (64)
Strange to say, the whimsical little brute falsified my expectations by jumping into my lap, and poking its sharp muzzle familiarly into my hand the moment I sat down. (141) 
Nothing, in my opinion, sets the odious selfishness of mankind in such a repulsively vivid light, as the treatment, in all classes of society, which the Single people receive at the hands of the Married people. When you have once shown yourself too considerate and self-denying to add a family of your own to an already overcrowded population, you are vindictively marked out by your married friends, who have no similar consideration and no similar self-denial, as the recipient of half their conjugal troubles, and the born friend of all their children. Husbands and wives talk of the cares of matrimony; and bachelors and spinsters bear them. (345) 
All the woman flushed up in Marian's face as I spoke. (450)
I actually was a bit offended by that. All the woman? Guys don't blush? If it's not blush, what is the "woman" then?
I asked myself that question, as I passed through the clean desolation, the neat ugliness, the prim torpor of the streets of Welmingham. (483)
Love the contrast between the adjectives and nouns.
I was born with the tastes of a lady; and he gratified them. In other words, he admired me, and he made me presents. No woman can resist admiration and presents--especially presents, provided they happen to be just the things she wants. He was sharp enough to know that--most men are. Naturally, he wanted something in return--all men do. (529)

My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody. (540)
Damn straight. I actually laughed out loud.

The best men are not consistent in good--why should the worst men be consistent in evil? (547)

We both wanted money. Immense necessity! Universal want! Is there a civilized human being who does not feel for us? How insensible must that man be! Or how rich! (599) That "universal want" brought me back to the opening of Pride and Prejudice...

I was stunned. Meditate on that. Fosco stunned! (609)

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