Reading Hartley: Delicious Sentences from The Go-Between (1953)
During a flurry of text messages about Alan Hollinghurst, a friend of mine suggested that we read L.P. Hartley's 1953 novel The Go-Between (he suspects that it was a significant influence for The Stranger's Child ). I'm only about one-third of the way through Hartley's novel, but I just can't help but record and share some of its delicious sentences.
- "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there" (17).
- "Last year, the year 1899, had been a disastrous year. In January, my father died after a brief illness, and in the summer I had diphtheria, with complications; almost all July and August I had spent in bed. They were phenomenally hot months, but what I recollected of the heat was my own fever, of which the heat in my room seemed only another aggravating aspect; heat was my enemy, the sun something to be kept out. . . . I only thought of my aching throat and the desperate search of my fretful limbs for a cool place in the bedclothes. I had good reason to wish the century over" (41).
- " . . . it was almost the first time I had felt myself real to somebody who didn't know me" (42).
- "'Perhaps you'll get measles after all,' she told me hopefully" (43).
- "'But try not to get hot,' she said. 'Getting hot is always a risk. You needn't do anything violent, need you?' We looked at each other in perplexity, and dismissed the idea that I should have to do anything violent" (43).
- "There are things I know, though I don't know how I know them, and things I remember. Certain things are established in my mind as facts, but no picture attaches to them; on the other hand there are pictures unverified by any fact which recur obsessively, like the landscape of a dream" (45).
- "It all began with the weather defying me" (53).
- "From being my enemy the summer had become my friend: . . . I felt I had been given the freedom of the heat, and I roamed about in it as if I was exploring a new element. I liked to watch it rise shimmering from the ground and hang heavy on the tops of the darkening July trees. . . . I liked to touch it with my hand and feel it on my throat and round my knees, which were bare to its embrace. I yearned to travel far, even farther into it, and achieve a close approximation with it; for I felt that my experience of it would somehow be cumulative, and that if it would only get hotter and hotter there was a heart of heat I should attain to" (65).
- "Believing himself to be unseen by the other bathers, he gave himself up to being alone with his body" (73).
- "While we were sitting, Mr. Maudsley read a lesson; while we were kneeling he read prayers; he read in a secular voice without inflections but not without reverence; his personality was so subdued that it seemed to fit in with anything he did" (76).
- "I decided it would be impossible to like him, and immediately liked him better" (78).
- "I was relieved at being in church at last; it was like having caught a train. The first thing I did was to examine the Psalms for the Day and add up the number of verses, for I knew that if there were over fifty I might feel faint and have to sit down, a thing I dreaded, for it made people turn and look at me; and once or twice I had been taken out and made to rest in the church porch till I felt better. I enjoyed the importance that this gave me, but I dreaded the preliminaries—the cold sweat, the wobbling knees, and the wondering how long I could hold out. Perhaps they were a sign that religion didn't agree with me" (83).
- "The thermometer stood at eighty-four: that was satisfactory, but I was confident it could do better" (93).