Rushdie quotations

I’ve been wrapped up in Salman Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet for a few days now. I realized I was on to something unusual when I started flagging passages every few pages.

Comments from the narrator so far:

Love and freedom

But love is what we want, not freedom. Who then is the unluckier man? The beloved, who is given his heart’s desire and must for ever after fear its loss, or the free man, with his unlooked-for liberty, naked and alone between the captive armies of the earth? (p. 53)


Cities are not immortal; nor are memories; nor are gods. Of the deities of childhood’s Olympus, hardly any now remain. (p. 57)


…I heard a new voice speaking to me, not in any language I had ever learned, but in the secret language of the heart. It was the sea. Its come-hither murmur, its seductive roar. That was the music that could wash my soul. The lure of a different element, its promises of elsewhere, gave me my first intimation of something hidden within me that would pull me across the water[…]. The sea, the wine-dark, the fish-rich. The lap and suck of waves dying on sand. Rmours of mermaids. Touch the sea and at once you’re joined to its farthest shore, to Araby (it was the Arabian Sea), Suez (it was the year of the Crisis), and Europa beyond. perhaps even—I remember the thrill of the whispered word on my young lips–America. America, the open-sesame. America, which got rid of the British long before we did. Let [him] dream his colonialist dreams of England. My dream-ocean led me to America, my private, my unfound land. (p. 59)


No shortage of explanations for life’s mysteries. Explanations are two a penny these days. The truth, however, is altogether harder to find. (p. 74)

On self

Now, looking back, I can say that we have been more or less on a par, the world and I. We have both risen to occasions and let the side down. To speak only for myself, however (I do not presume to speak for the world): at my worst, I have been a cacophony, a mass of human noises that did not add up to the symphony of an integrated self. At my best, however, the world sang out to me, and through me, like ringing crystal. (p. 75)


…Which was necessary; but also spoke of trouble ahead, or would have, had either of the happy couple been listening. But they turned a deaf ear to all words of warning. They were deeply in love; which beats earplugs. (p. 81)


I, however, am my parents’ child, in that I have always been deaf to religious communications of all types. Unable to take them at face value—what, you really think there was an angel there? Reincarnation, honestly?—I have made the mistake … of assuming that everyone else was of the same mind, and thought of such speech as metaphorical, and nothing more. This has not always proved a happy assumption to make. It gets one into arguments. And yet—though I know that dead myths were once live religions, that Quetzalcoatl and Dionysus may be fairy tales now but people, to say nothing of goats, once died for them in large numbers—I can still give no credence whatsoever to systems of belief. They seem flimsy, unpersuasive examples of the literary genre known as “unreliable narration.” I think of faith as irony, which is perhaps why the only leaps of faith I’m capable of are those required by the creative imagination, by fictions that don’t pretend to be fact, and so end up telling the truth. (p. 123)


Live on, survive, for the earth gives forth wonders. It may swallow your heart, but the wonders keep on coming. You stand before them bareheaded, shriven. What is expected of you is attention. (p. 145)


…in a library; now, a copy of this book sits on the table before me, waiting to be checked out when I leave tonight.

PR6068 .U757 G76 1999 for all you LoC-library users. :-)

March 16, 2008