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Friday, December 29, 2006

 

Great lines

Have you any favourites? For example - what's the most tragic line you can think of from a book, play, poem, film or sundry artwork?

I'd have to go with 'Where's my son Edmund?' - which is from King Lear. Gloucester, having been decieved by his treacherous son Edmund into casting out his virtuous son Edgar, has been handed over to his enemies by Edmund. They tear out Gloucester's eyes, and, blinded, he asks for his son - not yet knowing that it's Edmund who betrayed him. It's just horrible: he thinks he's as low as he can go, but is about to lose the one thing he had to hold on to; it's also a terrible cry of pain, like a child asking for its mother, only to hear ... Well, read the scence. It's heartbreaking.

Funniest lines? I keep changing on that, but my current favourite is from The Mating Season by PG Wodehouse; a drama has been unfolding, with a friend of Bertie's desperately fleeing an irate policeman, almost outdistancing him and then fatheadedly climbing a tree, leaving the officer to stand beneath him waiting for him to either fall or come down. Jeeves, we hope, is going to come up with a clever solution to the problem, the man being all brain and intellect - and then there's a dull thud, and Bertie opens his eyes to see Jeeves pocketing a cosh he's previously acquired through a different plot thread, remarking politely: 'I took the liberty of coshing the officer, sir.' It's the hilarious shock: Jeeves, so proper and cerebral, suddenly whacking someone with an illegal weapon; it also has a lovely Gordian Knot quality to it.

Anyone have other great lines? If so, share!

Comments:
Well, having dissed Tolkien in the previous thread, I'm now going to take a few of his lines as one of my favourites. From the very end of LOTR, when Frodo is preparing to leave for the Grey Havens.

"But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them."

Always makes me cry :).

Funnily enough, another favourite is also from King Lear. "I shall do such things...I know not yet what they will be, but they shall be the terrors of the earth." (quoted from memory). There's something dreadful about the emptiness of this threat.
 
I may not have the wording precisely correct, but a line from the end of Cormac McCarthy's latest novel The Road is haunting me weeks after I read it, and will likely stick with me forever: "I can't hold my dead child in my arms. I just can't."

The Road is brilliant, by the way -- but hard on the emotions. Any moderately sensitive reader is likely to need a cuddle afterwards.

Lara Apps
 
One of my favorite lines is from Christopher Fowler's Rune: "The dinner bill was numerological pornography." What a wonderful image!

rms
 
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