Here There Be Monsters

“A library is a place where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity.” Germaine Greer

This picture was sent to me by a dear friend. It looks like a Dutch oil painting, and I love the muted colours and rich fabrics. It’s actually a still from the 1979 film Nosferatu the Vampyre, which is a shame because I will probably never be brave enough to watch it.


June 29, 2010. Tags: , , , . books, movies. Leave a comment.


“She loved the sea for its storms alone, cared for vegetation only when it grew here and there among ruins. She had to extract a kind of personal advantage from things and she rejected as useless everything that promised no immediate gratification — for her temperament was more sentimental than artistic, and what she was looking for was emotions, not scenery.”

“Deep down, all the while, she was waiting for something to happen. Like a sailor in distress, she kept casting desperate glances over the solitary waster of her life, seeking some white sail in the distant mists of the horizon. She had no idea by what wind it would reach her, toward what shore it would bear her, or what kind of craft it would be – tiny boat or towering vessel, laden with heartbreaks or filled to the gunwales with rapture. But every morning when she awoke she hoped that today would be the day; she listened for every sound, gave sudden starts, was surprised when nothing happened; and then, sadder with each succeeding sunset, she longed for tomorrow.”

Both quotes from Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert.

June 24, 2010. Tags: , , , , . books. Leave a comment.

Advice from the Enlightenment

Way before He’s Just Not That Into You, there was Emilie Du Chatelet, scientist, writer, gambler, philosopher. Mistress of Voltaire.  Here’s a little bit of cold hard 18th century advice on love & other liaisons…

The great secret for preventing love from making us unhappy is to try never to appear in the wrong with your lover, never to display eagerness when his love is cooling, and always to be a degree cooler than he. This will not bring him back, but nothing could bring him back, there is nothing for us to do then but to forget someone who ceases to love us. If he still loves you, nothing can revive his love and make it as fiery as it was at first, except the fear of losing you and of being less loved. I know that for the susceptible and sincere this secret is difficult to put into practice, however, no effort will be too great, all the more so as it is much more necessary for the susceptible and sincere than for others.

Nothing degrades as much as the steps one takes to regain a cold or inconstant heart.  This demeans us in the eyes of the one we seek to keep, and in those of other men who might take an interest in us. But, and this is even worse, it makes us unhappy and uselessly torments us. So we must follow this maxim with unwavering courage and never surrender to our own heart on this point. From ‘Discourse on Happiness’

You can read more about Mme Du Chatelet’s life in Passionate Minds or Voltaire in Love – they’re both good! The latter’s by my favourite, Nancy Mitford, apparently she has all the science parts v WRONG (I didn’t notice!), but more than makes up for it with witty asides.

June 10, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . boys. 1 comment.