We all need a bit of it in these strange times...

Katie-Ellen

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They may be from any genre in fiction, or even non-fiction which may also count as literature. Books like 'The Peregrine', 'The Story of San Michele,' or Silent Spring, for instance,

What makes them great lines? Or what makes them your own personal favourites?

I'll start with this one. Gotta start somewhere. The ending lines of Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte.

"I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth."

What beautiful description. The general and the abstract, in counterpoise with physical detail - the moths (souls?)

It is musical, poetic, artistic. Her use of language is a painting in watercolour. Look at the structure of this single sentence. Have we yet seen a sentence of such technical skill on Pop- Ups. There are six clauses. There is - gasp, horror- a semi-colon. Well, so what? And yes. it is nineteenth century writing, and tastes have changed, absolutely, though I first read this book as a young teen and found it no big deal and perfectly accessible.

This is simply an observation about the writer's technical mastery; the command of syntax and language. Emily Bronte never went to school after all BUT - crucially- she had plentiful access to books in her own home.

This ending is a summation and compression of the whole arc of the story, and the feeling that has driven it.

There is compassion on the dead; for the impossible Cathy and Heathcliff; acknowledging the destructiveness of their folie à deux. This is an elegy for the children they once were, for the power of their sense of belonging to their landscape, their passion for their patch of earth, with which we are losing our own sense of connection. There is compassion for the man and woman they became. forgiveness for the harm they did. The ghosts are laid to rest with the benediction of the earth itself that has received them here.

'He is more of myself than I am,' said Cathy.

It is redemption, and the quietus of passion, rage, desires unfulfilled, grief.



1632056269172.png
 

Emily

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One of my favourite books ever.

Hilary Mantal has so many beautiful lines. But, I must say, our very own amazing @Leonora, whose book, Black Drop, (being published soon!), has likewise the most extraordinary prose. A turn of phrase that make you frequently need to stop to savour how gorgeous they feel and sound in your mouth.
 
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Katie-Ellen

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And she wrote 'only' the one book. But that was all it took. And maybe it took everything she had as a writer, and anything else would have been a paler re-hash. We will never know.

Other great lines, or personal favourite lines, do bring them along for study, folks....
 
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LizBrignac

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My brain just bottlenecked. So many incredible lines in literature.

Here's one I have loved for decades. It's from John Donne's Devotions, written in the 17th century. (I love that period of literature and studied it a while so those works often leap to mind.) It's famous, but it's usually quoted out of context. The speaker has been isolated due to typhoid, and he isn't sure he will survive. He's doing this sort of series of meditations and prayers based on the experience of being ill. He hears a bell ringing out for a dead or dying person, and he wonders if he thinks he might be recovering better than he is -- if the church bell is actually ringing for him because he is dying. Then he thinks about how whenever the church bell rings because someone is dying, due to humanity's interconnectedness, all are affected. When one of us dies, all experience a profound change because we all belong to one another. He writes:

"[W]ho can remove [his attention] from that bell, which is passing a piece of himself out of this world? / No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

I think of that line often when reflecting on humanity and how we related to one another, partly because it's a good point, but also because the image of people hearing the bell, wondering who is dying, feeling maybe the way we feel when we hear a siren and know that someone has trouble somewhere and feel sorrow for the person -- and the imagery of the island -- and the last line! This is prose, but you can tell the man was a poet.

It is weird to me that a line that powerful was actually thought up in a human brain. Partly because it's been around so long, it has a graven-in-stone feel to it, but partly because it's so powerful it feels weird that a human brain thought it up, maybe scratched out some words, put them in a different order. Blows my mind.
 
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LizBrignac

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They may be from any genre in fiction, or even non-fiction which may also count as literature. Books like 'The Peregrine', 'The Story of San Michele,' or Silent Spring, for instance,

What makes them great lines? Or what makes them your own personal favourites?

I'll start with this one. Gotta start somewhere. The ending lines of Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte.

"I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth."

What beautiful description. The general and the abstract, in counterpoise with physical detail - the moths (souls?)

It is musical, poetic, artistic. Her use of language is a painting in watercolour. Look at the structure of this single sentence. Have we yet seen a sentence of such technical skill on Pop- Ups. There are six clauses. There is - gasp, horror- a semi-colon. Well, so what? And yes. it is nineteenth century writing, and tastes have changed, absolutely, though I first read this book as a young teen and found it no big deal and perfectly accessible.

This is simply an observation about the writer's technical mastery; the command of syntax and language. Emily Bronte never went to school after all BUT - crucially- she had plentiful access to books in her own home.

This ending is a summation and compression of the whole arc of the story, and the feeling that has driven it.

There is compassion on the dead; for the impossible Cathy and Heathcliff; acknowledging the destructiveness of their folie à deux. This is an elegy for the children they once were, for the power of their sense of belonging to their landscape, their passion for their patch of earth, with which we are losing our own sense of connection. There is compassion for the man and woman they became. forgiveness for the harm they did. The ghosts are laid to rest with the benediction of the earth itself that has received them here.

'He is more of myself than I am,' said Cathy.

It is redemption, and the quietus of passion, rage, desires unfulfilled, grief.



View attachment 9913
That IS a beautiful line! The quiet life of the moths and the flowers and especially the wind breathing (beautiful verb!!!) through the grass sort of compared and contrasted at the same time with death, being at peace, but devoid of the breath and life of that hillside.

Thanks for sharing. It's been years since I read that book, and I never noticed that line that I remember.
 

Katie-Ellen

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My brain just bottlenecked. So many incredible lines in literature.

Here's one I have loved for decades. It's from John Donne's Devotions, written in the 17th century. (I love that period of literature and studied it a while so those works often leap to mind.) It's famous, but it's usually quoted out of context. The speaker has been isolated due to typhoid, and he isn't sure he will survive. He's doing this sort of series of meditations and prayers based on the experience of being ill. He hears a bell ringing out for a dead or dying person, and he wonders if he thinks he might be recovering better than he is -- if the church bell is actually ringing for him because he is dying. Then he thinks about how whenever the church bell rings because someone is dying, due to humanity's interconnectedness, all are affected. When one of us dies, all experience a profound change because we all belong to one another. He writes:

"[W]ho can remove [his attention] from that bell, which is passing a piece of himself out of this world? / No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

I think of that line often when reflecting on humanity and how we related to one another, partly because it's a good point, but also because the image of people hearing the bell, wondering who is dying, feeling maybe the way we feel when we hear a siren and know that someone has trouble somewhere and feel sorrow for the person -- and the imagery of the island -- and the last line! This is prose, but you can tell the man was a poet.

It is weird to me that a line that powerful was actually thought up in a human brain. Partly because it's been around so long, it has a graven-in-stone feel to it, but partly because it's so powerful it feels weird that a human brain thought it up, maybe scratched out some words, put them in a different order. Blows my mind.


That is GRAVITAS, Liz,isn't it. It has the ring of haecceity....it has a 'THIS-NESS' that has been drawn up from the bottom of the well. The thing itself tolls like a bell. Resonance. Thank you for contributing.
 

Jake E

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The end of Hogfather has always stuck with me as a great line. There needs to be other lines for context though:

“All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable."
REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—"
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
"So we can believe the big ones?"
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
"They're not the same at all!"
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point—"
MY POINT EXACTLY.”

― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

Gives me chills.
 

Katie-Ellen

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Thank you, Jake. Very good. Marvellous. Yes. And I see Terry Pratchett knew his 'African Genesis' by Robert Ardrey, writer, film maker and anthropologist extraordinaire, even if sniffed at by some of that establishment.

"We were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murers and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments?"

Ardrey goes on to say, we do wonderfully well considering, with our efforts at neighbourliness, compassion, poetry, music, gardening...not too bad for a killer ape trying its best...well, actually, quite a lot of the time, considering the pressures on it as an animal evolved to function in small family groups, 250 individuals tops or thereabouts.

African Genesis - Wikipedia


1632086170022.png
 
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RK Capps

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John Donne

I love JD!

Hogfather

I'm reading that atm, lol, so I didn't read the above example, but it's good to know it's a worthy ending :) There are just too many classic TP lines!

I like truths. One of my oldest favs is from Anne of Green Gables:

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

This is Brandon Sanderson in The Way of Kings:

"The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon."

And from my latest favourite, I just have to put the sentence before for context. Love the truth here and the rhythm of the dialogue:

“Why would anyone trade a lifetime of talent for a few years of glory?”

Luc’s smile darkens. “Because time is cruel to all, and crueler still to artists. Because vision weakens, and voices wither, and talent fades.” He leans close, twists a lock of her hair around one finger. “Because happiness is brief, and history is lasting, and in the end,” he says, “everyone wants to be remembered.”


Schwab, V.E.. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (p. 410). Titan Books. Kindle Edition.
 
They may be from any genre in fiction, or even non-fiction which may also count as literature. Books like 'The Peregrine', 'The Story of San Michele,' or Silent Spring, for instance,

What makes them great lines? Or what makes them your own personal favourites?

I'll start with this one. Gotta start somewhere. The ending lines of Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte.

"I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth."

What beautiful description. The general and the abstract, in counterpoise with physical detail - the moths (souls?)

It is musical, poetic, artistic. Her use of language is a painting in watercolour. Look at the structure of this single sentence. Have we yet seen a sentence of such technical skill on Pop- Ups. There are six clauses. There is - gasp, horror- a semi-colon. Well, so what? And yes. it is nineteenth century writing, and tastes have changed, absolutely, though I first read this book as a young teen and found it no big deal and perfectly accessible.

This is simply an observation about the writer's technical mastery; the command of syntax and language. Emily Bronte never went to school after all BUT - crucially- she had plentiful access to books in her own home.

This ending is a summation and compression of the whole arc of the story, and the feeling that has driven it.

There is compassion on the dead; for the impossible Cathy and Heathcliff; acknowledging the destructiveness of their folie à deux. This is an elegy for the children they once were, for the power of their sense of belonging to their landscape, their passion for their patch of earth, with which we are losing our own sense of connection. There is compassion for the man and woman they became. forgiveness for the harm they did. The ghosts are laid to rest with the benediction of the earth itself that has received them here.

'He is more of myself than I am,' said Cathy.

It is redemption, and the quietus of passion, rage, desires unfulfilled, grief.



View attachment 9913
And thank you for a great analysis!
 
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"[W]ho can remove [his attention] from that bell, which is passing a piece of himself out of this world? / No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
I'm wondering if that's where Hemingway's book title came from.
 

Katie-Ellen

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I'm wondering if that's where Hemingway's book title came from.


Yes, it was. And thank you for the kind comment, James. Some great examples and analysis here from Litopians... do keep them coming. Grist to our own writing mills. You know, while we are gestating our own great favourite lines for the future

Because these lines HAVE been gestated, It is clear that the writer has been feeling 'A SOMETHING' deep down, way down below the level of language, for a long, long time and finally, out it comes, hung on the bones of the story.

But actually, it IS the story

A distillation. And an invocation.

Keep them coming...
 

Emily

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There you go now: more extraordinary lines :)
Because these lines HAVE been gestated, It is clear that the writer has been feeling 'A SOMETHING' deep down, way down below the level of language, for a long, long time and finally, out it comes, hung on the bones of the story.

But actually, it IS the story

A distillation. And an invocation.
 

Rachel Caldecott

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I have discovered the works of Mor Jokai, the Hungarian writer (contemporary and friend of my 5x great grandfather), I've downloaded a collection of his works and have started to read them. I've also managed to find a 1964 film version of one of his stories called, A koszizu ember fiai (The Baron's sons). It should be here any day now. I read the book last week. It contains amazingly detailed descriptions of battles as well as daily life, and is far more enjoyable than anything else I've read about the period. I'm doing all of this as research for my own timeslip novel. I was boring myself rigid with academic accounts of the Hungarian revolution, so thought I'd read some contemporary literature of the time. I'm learning so much, from snippets of Hungarian, to how the Russian soldiers made their soup tastier by dipping tallow candles into them. The candles come out slightly thinner, but still usable and the vegetable broth gets a nice shot of old fat o_O. I'm also really enjoying some of his character descriptions too. The story I'm reading now is a sort of Hungarian equivalent of Jane Austen. Three families are trying to marry their sons off to an eligible girl.

"Nephew Sandor was a long strip of a youth, with smooth, puffy cheeks, and a snub nose. Nature had amply provided him with hands and feet, of which he seemed painfully aware; for he kept the former in perpetual motion, as if endeavouring to get rid of them, while the latter had a peculiar call for stumbling over and treading on everything they came in contact with.
The smaller boy never left his mother's side, holding fast by her dress - finding it at the same time a convenient place of refuge for his nose."

(Tell me, can't you all relate to that description of a young lad?)

Anyway, back to work.
See you soon.
Rachel

 

LizBrignac

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The end of Hogfather has always stuck with me as a great line. There needs to be other lines for context though:

“All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable."
REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—"
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
"So we can believe the big ones?"
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
"They're not the same at all!"
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point—"
MY POINT EXACTLY.”

― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

Gives me chills.
Wow. That is some line! I've never read Terry Pratchett, but maybe I'll start!
 

Galadriel

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The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates. A seminal book in my life, and one which I return to over and again. Although it's a novel, Bates has studied Anglo-Saxon texts from a 1000 years ago and has used what he's gleaned to construct yes, a fictionalised piece, but one that has its foundations firmly planted in the Western Tradition of Anglo-Saxon sorcery. Wat Brand is a Christian scribe sent on a mission to uncover the pagan practices of England, and basically 'out' them. But when he meets sorcerer Wulf, he thinks he is there to take notes, as it were. Instead he is taken on a journey not based on faith and belief, but of direct knowledge found by experiencing the sorcerer's world. Thus he is propelled into an alien environment he is unprepared for, but one in which, he eventually finds his place.

"Our laughter splashed around the clearing and sent the crows wheeling out of the trees to speed away down river in a tumbling, twisting, zigzag flight. I watched the pattern of their flight and I understood."

The water metaphor in this line is a continuation of Wat meeting his soul, and being reunited with it in the river. Wulf and Wat laugh because teacher and student are on the same level - Wat has been guided, but his experience is his own journey, and ultimately only he can go there. Their laughter triggers the flight of birds - in the sorcerer's world nothing happens by chance. The poetic participles: wheeling, tumbling, twisting have an immediacy and give shape to Wat's interpretation of this augury. The " . . .I understood.," raises the hairs on my neck because Wat has been reborn; he has been taken apart and put back together and given true sight.

So my choice here, is not necessarily one of syntax but rather of Bates' skill in crafting a tale that interfaces ancient spirituality with modern day shamanic practice.
 

Katie-Ellen

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I have discovered the works of Mor Jokai, the Hungarian writer (contemporary and friend of my 5x great grandfather), I've downloaded a collection of his works and have started to read them. I've also managed to find a 1964 film version of one of his stories called, A koszizu ember fiai (The Baron's sons). It should be here any day now. I read the book last week. It contains amazingly detailed descriptions of battles as well as daily life, and is far more enjoyable than anything else I've read about the period. I'm doing all of this as research for my own timeslip novel. I was boring myself rigid with academic accounts of the Hungarian revolution, so thought I'd read some contemporary literature of the time. I'm learning so much, from snippets of Hungarian, to how the Russian soldiers made their soup tastier by dipping tallow candles into them. The candles come out slightly thinner, but still usable and the vegetable broth gets a nice shot of old fat o_O. I'm also really enjoying some of his character descriptions too. The story I'm reading now is a sort of Hungarian equivalent of Jane Austen. Three families are trying to marry their sons off to an eligible girl.

"Nephew Sandor was a long strip of a youth, with smooth, puffy cheeks, and a snub nose. Nature had amply provided him with hands and feet, of which he seemed painfully aware; for he kept the former in perpetual motion, as if endeavouring to get rid of them, while the latter had a peculiar call for stumbling over and treading on everything they came in contact with.
The smaller boy never left his mother's side, holding fast by her dress - finding it at the same time a convenient place of refuge for his nose."

(Tell me, can't you all relate to that description of a young lad?)

Anyway, back to work.
See you soon.
Rachel


New one to me, thank you so much, Rachel. Must investigate further.
 

Katie-Ellen

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The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates. A seminal book in my life, and one which I return to over and again. Although it's a novel, Bates has studied Anglo-Saxon texts from a 1000 years ago and has used what he's gleaned to construct yes, a fictionalised piece, but one that has its foundations firmly planted in the Western Tradition of Anglo-Saxon sorcery. Wat Brand is a Christian scribe sent on a mission to uncover the pagan practices of England, and basically 'out' them. But when he meets sorcerer Wulf, he thinks he is there to take notes, as it were. Instead he is taken on a journey not based on faith and belief, but of direct knowledge found by experiencing the sorcerer's world. Thus he is propelled into an alien environment he is unprepared for, but one in which, he eventually finds his place.

"Our laughter splashed around the clearing and sent the crows wheeling out of the trees to speed away down river in a tumbling, twisting, zigzag flight. I watched the pattern of their flight and I understood."

The water metaphor in this line is a continuation of Wat meeting his soul, and being reunited with it in the river. Wulf and Wat laugh because teacher and student are on the same level - Wat has been guided, but his experience is his own journey, and ultimately only he can go there. Their laughter triggers the flight of birds - in the sorcerer's world nothing happens by chance. The poetic participles: wheeling, tumbling, twisting have an immediacy and give shape to Wat's interpretation of this augury. The " . . .I understood.," raises the hairs on my neck because Wat has been reborn; he has been taken apart and put back together and given true sight.

So my choice here, is not necessarily one of syntax but rather of Bates' skill in crafting a tale that interfaces ancient spirituality with modern day shamanic practice.

I love the title for starters, @Galadriel

This might be up your street then. A little known modern balladeer, Bob Beagrie, writer of epic poems including, 'The Seer Sung Husband'.

A retelling of the story of Toby Shipton, carpenter husband of the famous seeress of Knaresborough, Mother Shipton, born Ursula Sontheil.

What was it like for HIM to be married to such a woman? And how did it end for them both?

"The Seer Sung Husband is a book about folklore and myth, imagination and belief. It's a portrait of England at a time of radical social, religious and political crisis. It's a magical realist verse-epic set against the violent upheavals of 16th Century England.."


Though poetic prose, this is very accessible story-telling and I found it totes riveting. Neck tingling, yes. Bob Beagrie, such a quiet unassuming man. The road to publishing was not quick or easy for him. But what a vision and what a voice.


1632161543942.png
 

Galadriel

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I love the title for starters, @Galadriel

This might be up your street then. A little known modern balladeer, Bob Beagrie, writer of epic poems including, 'The Seer Sung Husband'.

A retelling of the story of Toby Shipton, carpenter husband of the famous seeress of Knaresborough, Mother Shipton, born Ursula Sontheil.

What was it like for HIM to be married to such a woman? And how did it end for them both?

"The Seer Sung Husband is a book about folklore and myth, imagination and belief. It's a portrait of England at a time of radical social, religious and political crisis. It's a magical realist verse-epic set against the violent upheavals of 16th Century England.."


Though poetic prose, this is very accessible story-telling and I found it totes riveting. Neck tingling, yes. Bob Beagrie, such a quiet unassuming man. The road to publishing was not quick or easy for him. But what a vision and what a voice.


View attachment 9927
Wow, thank you - first new word and now a new text! I'll look up a copy right now
 
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I'm learning so much, from snippets of Hungarian, to how the Russian soldiers made their soup tastier by dipping tallow candles into them. The candles come out slightly thinner, but still usable and the vegetable broth gets a nice shot of old fat o_O.
Candle soldiers! That's something. Hunger is a powerful force.
 

Katie-Ellen

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I first came across it in a review someone wrote of an anthology of short stories I had co- written. It was not entirely complimentary, I have to say, but these were wilfully mischievous stories, and that was fine and to be expected.

Hike - ay like hay- it -eeeee

It is a difficult thing to render into words. It's like the opposite of generic. The very particular quality of something that makes it unmistakable

synonyms: quiddity. type of: center, centre, core, essence, gist, heart, heart and soul, inwardness, kernel, marrow, meat, nitty-gritty, nub, pith, substance, sum..
 

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Terry Pratchett was a genius. He was so interested in everything and brought everything into his writing. The sly references to every single bit of popular culture, highbrow culture, history, the human condition etc... on and on. And some fantastic quotes.
Maybe, though I've never managed to finish one of his books, because his sense of humour annoys me. The only one I've enjoyed is the collaboration, Good Omens, and I've a feeling that Neil Gaiman wrote all the bits that I like. Pratchett is one of those Marmite writers, because I've a few friends who can't stand him, and others that state he's their favourite author, without a moment's hesitation.
 
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