Ada Monroe and Inman  (Cold Mountain)

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)

Babe (Babe)


Bathsheba Everdene (Far from the Madding Crowd)


Beatrice (Much Ado about Nothing)

Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair)

Cecily Cardew (Importance of Being Earnest)

Champion (Les Triplettes de Belleville)


Collin Fenwick (The Grass Harp)

Dorothea Brooke (Middlemarch)

Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz)

Edward Scissorhands

Eleanor Roosevelt

Elizabeth (Frankenstein)

Ellen Foster (Ellen Foster)

Ellie Arroway (Contact)

Eppie (Silas Marner)

Estella (Great Expectations)

Esther Summerson (Bleak House)

Eustacia Vye (Return of the Native)


Flora Poste (Cold Comfort Farm)

Francis Marion Tarwater (The Violent Bear It Away)

Frodo Baggins (The Lord of the Rings)

Gou Wa “Doggie” (King of Masks)

Hadji (Johnny Quest)

Harriet Smith (Emma)

Harry Potter

Harvey Cheyne, Jr. (Captains Courageous)

Hawkeye (Last of the Mohicans)

Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights)


Helena (All’s Well That Ends Well)

Homer Wells (Cider House Rules)

Huckleberry Finn

Hyacinth Robinson (The Princess Casimassima)

Irwin (Northfork)

Isabelle Archer (The Portrait of a Lady)

Jack Dawson (Titanic)

Jack Redburn (Master Humphrey's Clock)

Jake and Elwood Blues (The Blues Brothers)

James Henry Trotter (James & the Giant Peach)

Jane Eyre

Jane Fairfax (Emma)

Jen and Kira (The Dark Crystal)

Jo (Bleak House)

Joe Christmas (Light in August)

Jude Fawley (Jude the Obscure)

Kim (Kim)

Leo Tolstoy

Lilo (Lilo and Stitch)

Lillian (The Chimes)

Lily Bart (The Age of Innocence)

Lily Owen (The Secret Life of Bees)

Little Foot (The Land Before Time)

Little Nell (The Old Curiosity Shop)

Little Orphan Annie

Lucinda Leplastrier (Oscar and Lucinda)

*Lucy Manette (Tale of Two Cities)

Luke Skywalker (Star Wars)

Margaret, Helen, and Tibby Schlegel (Howard's End)

Marilyn Monroe

Mary Lennox (The Secret Garden)

Mary McCarthy

Mathilde and Manech (A Very Long Engagement)

Mattie Silver (Ethan Frome)

Miette (City of Lost Children)

Millie Theale (The Wings of a Dove)

Miriam Chadwick (Oscar and Lucinda)

Mowgli (The Jungle Book)

Nameless (Hero)

*Neo (The Matrix)

Oliver Twist

Orphan Girl (Gillian Welch)

Oscar Hopkins (Oscar and Lucinda)

Our Johnny (Our Mutual Friend)

Pai (Whale Rider)

Patrick Dennis (Auntie Mame)

Peter Pan and the Lost Boys

Philip Carey (Of Human Bondage)

Pip (Great Expectations)


Posthumus (Cymbeline)

Princess Mononoke

Queen Elizabeth I

Rickie Elliot (The Longest Journey)

Rosa (Edwin Drood)

Salvatore “Toto” (Cinema Paradiso)

Sara Crewe (The Little Princess)

Seymour Krelborn (Little Shop of Horrors)

Smike (Nicholas Nickleby)

Solomon Perel (Europa Europa)

Sophie Neveu (The DaVinci Code)

Sophy Viner (The Reef)


Stuart Little
Sue Bridehead (Jude the Obscure)


Tanya Chernova (Enemy at the Gates)

Tertius Lydgate (Middlemarch)

Tom (Water Babies)

Tom Jones

Tom Sawyer


Trinity (The Matrix)

Will Ladislaw (Middlemarch)

Will Turner (Pirates of the Caribbean)

W. Somerset Maugham




* = new or recent addition



[no name] (The Man Without a Past)

Dory (Finding Nemo)

Eleanor Mannering (Garden of Lies)

Giambattista "Yambo" Bodini (The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana)

Jason Bourne (The Bourne Identity)

Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

Leonard Shelby (Memento)

*Manech (A Very Long Engagement)

Nick Petrov (Oblivion)

Peter Appleton (The Majestic)

Rita (Mulholland Drive)

Ryder (The Unconsoled)

Samson Greene (Man Walks into a Room)

Will Barrett (The Last Gentleman)


December  21,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe


The Saxons began their year on the 8th of Kalends of January (25 December) which is now our Christmas Day, and the very night before, which is now holy to us was by them called Mœdrenack, or the Night of Mothers, because as we imagine, of those ceremonies which were performed that night.

--Venerable Bede (673-735) collected in A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  20,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe


Of the Properties of the Twelve Signs.  X. Of the Sign of Capricorn.

She who is born at this time will be modest and fearful; she will overcome her enemies; she will have children by three men; she will make many pilgrimages in her youth; she will have after that much prosperity; she will have great eye-trouble, and will be at her best at thirty-one; she will live seventy years and four months, in the way of Nature.

--Le Grant Kalendier des Bergiers, 1480 collected in A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  19,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe


Of the Properties of the Twelve Signs.  X. Of the Sign of Capricorn.

I find that he who is born under Capricorn, that is, between the middle of December and the middle of January, will be quarrelsome, a libertine, a liar, and toilsome, and nourished with strange things.  He will commit several crimes and will experiment in brawls; he will be a governor of four-footed beasts; he will not remain long with his wife; he will suffer divers great besettings and mischiefs in his youth; he will be forced to give up several riches and goods; he will be in great peril at the age of fifteen; he will have very great courage; he will frequent honest men and will become rich through women, and he will be a guide to maidens; his brothers will play the spy on him greatly; he will live seventy-four years and three months, in the way of Nature.

--Le Grant Kalendier des Bergiers, 1480 collected in A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  18,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

To the horrible people who are best designated as Dons, whose idea of Heaven is an everlasting examination, it is repulsive that this young wastrel, with a possible Grammar School smattering, should have written the finest things in the world.  "The Warwickshire yokel," says one of them in high contempt.  And so has arisen the most marvellous folly of the world: the Baconian Hypothesis.  Grave men, being first assured that shabby Bohemian fellows do not write immortalities, have committed themselves to all the wonderful lunacies of the Bilateral Cypher, have gone a little father, and have at last found that Bacon wrote not only all Shakespeare but all the literature of his age, including Montaigne's Essais and Cervantes' Don Quixote.  The last book which I read on the subject showed that Don Quixote should be read "d'un qui s'ôte"--concerning one who hides himself--Bacon, of course.  Indeed, the writer proved that the alleged author, Cervantes, had an illegitimate child and was very poor: which is evidence, of course, that he could not write masterpieces.  The masterpieces notoriously are all written by moral men with large banking accounts. 

May this January, this Twelfth Night, bring us better sense, as we sit about our sea-coal fire.  

--A Talk for Twelfth Night by Arthur Machen collected in A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

[N.B.:  I think the Shakespeare deniers fundamentally fail to understand the public nature of a playwright's craft.  The playwright does not scribble away a play in isolation and then have the players mechanically wound up to perform his completed masterpiece.  Rather, the playwright works in collaboration with the players and others constantly revising the work as it is performed and thus, through such collaboration, a play is born.  And as Machen points out, the fact that Shakespeare did not have a grand education is beside the point.  It's like arguing that Babe Ruth did not hit his homeruns because he was fat, slow and pigeon-toed.  Who you going to believe: me or your lying eyes?]

December  16,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe


Take a pottle of sweet thick Cream, and the white of eyght Egs, and beate them altogether, with a spoone, then put them into your cream with a dishfull of Rosewater, and a dishfull of Sugar withall, then take a sticke and make it clene, and then cut it in the end foursquare, and therewith beat all the aforesaid things together, and ever as it ariseth take it off, and put it in a Cullender, this doone, take a platter and sette an Apple in the midst of it, stick a thicke bush of Rosemary in the Apple.  Then cast your Snow upon the Rosemary and fill your platter therewith, and if you have wafers cast some withall, and so serve them forthe.

--A Book of Cookerie, 1594, collected in A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  15,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"That," said Marcel, indicating a superb bird displaying through its rosy transparent skin the truffles of Périgord with which it was stuffed, "is called a truffled turkey.  I have seen impious creatures eat a thing like that without first kneeling to it," added the painter, casting on the turkey a look capable of roasting it.

--Vie De Bohème by Henry Murger collected in A Christmas Book (compiled by D.B. Wyndham Lewis & G.C. Heseltine)

December  11,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

If they reached the point of no return surprisingly quickly it's even more surprising to find that one of them has already reached the point of giving up.  sometimes the two are one and the same; the usual difference is that there's only one point of no return whereas the point of giving up is constant--the opposite of a point, in fact--and can be yielded to at any and every step of the way.

--Zona by Geoff Dyer

December  10,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Walker Evans opened our eyes . . . to the sagging shacks, wrecked cars and fading signs of America in the thirties.  To that extent Evans anticipate Bresson's reminder to himself, in Notes on the Cinematographer:  'Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.'  A little later Bresson added a medium-specific twits to this ambition: 'Quality of a new world which none of the existing arts allowed to be imagined.'  Two related questions, then: would we regard this landscape of fields, abandoned cars, tilted telegraph poles and trees as beautiful without Tarkovsky?  And could it have been brought into existence by any medium other than film?

--Zona by Geoff Dyer

December  9,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

In taking on a book's arguments, I don't pull my punches.  But I do have one golden rule: I never put something in a review that I would not be prepared to say to the author's face.  'If you couldn't say it, then don't write it', should (in my view) be the reviewers unwavering maxim.

--Reviewing Classics collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

[N.B.: Here Ms. Beard puts her finger on why there are so many positive--and positively boring--book reviews: reviewers lack the courage of their convictions to admit when an author is wrong because they do not want to confront that author later at a cocktail party.  This was the benefit of the old concept of a university as a monastery or "ivory tower"--splendid isolation allows for a degree of "home truth" that incessant networking does not.]

December  8,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

For what it's worth, my basic rule is never to send any book to any reviewer if I'm fairly sure I can predict what they will say about it.  And if the reviewer knows the author (as in the relatively close-knit community of classics is sometimes bound to be the case), I have to be confident that the reviewer would feel able to write either a positive or negative review, depending on what they found (I don't send books out to people who are only prepared to be nice about them).  But the simple fact is that it's not all that difficult to be fair - indeed, it's probably a lot easier to be fair than to be successfully corrupt.

--Reviewing Classics collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

December  5,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The irony is that, while publishers continue to harass literary editors to review their books, they also rightly reassure their anxious authors that what the reviewers say appears to have very limited effect on how many books get sold.  To put it another way, the only person who can be absolutely guaranteed to read, and to re-read, a review with intense concentration is the author of the book concerned.  (So, authors, however bruised you feel by what you think is a piece of unfair criticism, never write in to complain; the chances are that you will just draw attention to something that no one else has much noticed!)

--Reviewing Classics collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

December  2,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Even more eccentric than most was Edmund Morshead, teacher at Winchester in the late nineteenth century: nicknamed 'Mush', he had his own private idiolect ('Mushri') that he shared with his pupils and he taught in a classroom known predictably enough as the 'Mushroom'. . . . The died-in-the-wool Mr chips and the dreariness of the grammar grind is more our own modern myth than (at more radical schools, at least) the eighteenth-and nineteenth-century reality.

--What Gets Left Out collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

December  1,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The basic point is that almost all slave-owning societies have had some mechanism for giving some slaves their freedom, but none - so far as we can tell - ever freed slaves in such large numbers as Rome.  More than that, the Romans gave ex-slaves almost all the rights and privileges of Roman citizenship.  In ancient Athens, a freed slave became at best a 'resident alien'; in Rome any slave freed, according to certain legal rules, by a Roman citizen, himself became a Roman citizen, with only a few restrictions (ex-slaves could not serve in the army, for example, or hold political office); and no restrictions at all applied to the second generation.  The poet Horace is just one notable example of a son of an ex-slave who lived close to the top of the Roman pecking order.

--Ex-Slaves and Snobbery collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  27,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Contrary to popular opinion, we are not starved of evidence: enough material survives from the Roman world alone to last any historian's lifetime; and if you include relevant material from Judaism and early Christianity, the problem is one of excess, not shortness of supply.  Yet historians still start their books with a ritual lament about 'the sources' and their inadequacy.  The lament is not entirely insincere (though it is something of a self-constructed problem): the sources often are inadequate for the particular questions that historians choose to pose.  But that is part of the ancient-historical game: first pick your question, then demonstrate the appalling difficulty of finding an answer given the paucity of the evidence, finally triumph over that difficulty by scholarly 'skill'.

--Hadrian and His Villa collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  26,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

To be fair to Birley, he does signal his conjectures, guesses and inferences for what they are. Obsessively so.  His text is littered with the technical terminology of 'careful' ancient history: 'presumably', 'one may readily postulate', 'the odds are that', 'it is no more than a guess', 'no doubt', 'in all likelihood', 'on this hypothesis'.  Such phrases occur literally hundreds of times throughout the book.  The problem with this method is not its dishonesty (though readers should be warned that many of Birley's terms are used in their narrowest academic sense: 'no doubt' means 'this is an extremely dodgy speculation').  The real issue is that this veneer of scrupulous scholarship ('I shall claim nothing as fact that I cannot firmly authenticate') turns out to act as a brilliant alibi for outright fiction.

--Hadrian and His Villa collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  25,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The wilder the speculation, the greater the panoply of scholarship.  Fragmentary inscriptions are dissected in detail (largely because Birley conveniently assumes that an inscribed dedication to Hadrian in town X means that Hadrian actually visited town X - when there are plenty of other reasons to account for such displays of local loyalty).  Poetry is grilled for 'facts' that it could never yield.  In one horribly memorable argument he takes a fragment of an epigram by the poet/historian Florus ('I don't want to be the emperor/Strolling about among the Britons') as evidence to support his claim that Hadrian made his first inspection of Hadrian's Wall on foot.

--Hadrian and His Villa collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  24,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Why, then, was Nero overthrown and demonised, while Hadrian died safely in his bed and escaped with nothing more damning than an awkward question mark over his aims and motives?  Partly, no doubt, because Hadrian walked the tightrope of imperial image-making more deftly than Nero.  The Golden House caused offence because it monopolised the heart of the city of Rome itself ('Romans flee to Veii - your city has become one man's house' was a well-known joke against Nero's building schemes), whereas Hadrian's yet more grandiose Villa was at a discreet (enough) distance from the capital.  Partly, the question provides its own answer: most Roman rulers were not overthrown because they were demons or demonised (my guess is that assassinations were more often the result of self-serving rivalries within the palace than of political principle or moral outrage), they were demonised because they were overthrown.  If one of the many attempts on Hadrian's life had been successful, he, too, would most probably have been written into history as a tyrannical maniac.  Instead, whatever the truth about his regime, his loyal and chosen successor, Antoninus Pius, made sure that posterity did not treat him as badly as it might have done - or (who knows?) as he might have deserved.

--Hadrian and His Villa collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

[N.B.:  Mary Beard should write an updated The Prince.]

November  23,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The Emperor Hadrian once went to the public baths and saw an old soldier rubbing his back against a wall.  Puzzled, he asked the old man what he was doing.  'Getting the marble to scrape the oil off,' the old man explained, 'because I can't afford a slave.'  The emperor immediately presented him with a team of slaves and the money for their upkeep.  A few weeks later, he was in the baths again.  Predictably, perhaps, he found a whole group of old men ostentatiously rubbing their backs against the wall, trying to cash in on his generosity.  He asked the same question and got the same response.  'But haven't you thought,' replied the canny emperor, 'of rubbing each other down?'

--Hadrian and His Villa collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  22,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

There is, however, a bigger question raised by Champlin's Nero, and by any biographical study, ancient or modern, of a Roman emperor: just how influential on the wider developments of Roman history was an individual ruler?  Imperial biographers are professionally committed to the idea that the emperor is crucial, and Champlin does his best to demonstrate that there was a significant imperial programme at work during this reign that can be raced back to Nero himself.  This approach would, no doubt, draw support from Tacitus' comments on the influence of changing rulers, the fear and flattery they provoked, on the pattern of Roman history writing.  But Tacitus could also be taken to support almost exactly the opposite position: namely, that so long as the right words were mouthed, praise and blame delivered in the expected quarters, business could go on as usual from reign to reign, no matter who was on the throne.  Even if you had been an elite ally of the last emperor, all that was required was some well-honed denunciation of the previous regime to keep your place in the new hierarchy.

--Nero's Colosseum? collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  21,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

There is also a wide range of more or less revealing anecdotes attached to [Livia's] name.  A fourth-century medical writer preserves a recipe for one of Livia's concoctions for sore throats and another for nervous exhaustion (without any hints of sinister side effects).  And from the vast compendium of useful knowledge assembled in the elder Pliny's Natural History, we learn that she put her longevity down to drinking wine from Friuli (a claim still used to advertise the vintage); and we glean hints of an unlikely rivalry between Livia and Augustus' granddaughter Julia over who owned the smallest dwarf (Julia won the male competition with a specimen of two foot five inches, Livia the female - height unspecified).

--Married to the Empire collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  20,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The description of this procession [in honour of the god Dionysus, sponsored in the early third century BC by one of Cleopatra's predecessors on the throne, Ptolemy II 'Philadelphus' ('sister-lover')] oozes with amazement at the extraordinary spectacle.  Each of the floats required hundreds of men to pull them along, partly because of the ingenious, mechanical - and presumably very heavy - displays that they carried.  One of the highlights, and a triumph of Alexandrian engineering, was an eight-cubit-tall (approximately twelve feet) statue that 'stood up mechanically without anyone laying a hand on it and sat back down again when it had poured a libation of milk.'  Another attraction was the chariots not pulled by men or horses, but by ostriches.  Another was the 'wine-sack made of leopard skin and holding 3,000 measures', which gradually released its contents onto the processional route.

--Cleopatra: The Myth collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  18,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

It concerns the period just after the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, at which Augustus (then known as Octavian, or just plain Caesar) defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra and effectively gained control of the entire Roman world.  He was met on his return to the capital by a man with a tame raven, which he had taught to say 'Greetings to Caesar, our victorious commander.'  Augustus was so impressed that he gave the man a substantial cash prize.  but it turned out that the bird's trainer had a partner who, when none of the 20,000 sesterces came his way, went to the emperor and explained that the man had another raven which he should be asked to produce.  Predictably, the pair had been hedging their bets: this bird squawked 'Greetings to Antony, our victorious commander.'  The emperor saw the funny side and did not get angry - but simply insisted that the prize money be shared between the two men.

--Looking for the Emperor collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  17,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The fate of Gavius from the Sicilian town of Consa, who was flogged, tortured and crucified for being a spy, despite the fact that he was a Roman citizen and so legally protected from such treatment, has remained a powerful political symbol.  Gavius died with the words 'Ciis romanus sum' ('I am a Roman citizen') on his lips - a slogan that was later adopted by Lord Palmerston when he sent a gunboat in support of the British citizen Don Pacifico, who in 1847 had been attacked by an anti-Semitic crowd in Athens.  It was famously wheeled out again in 1963 by John F. Kennedy in Berlin: 'Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was "civis Romanus sum".  Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is "ich bin ein Berliner".  Kennedy, presumably, did not know what happened to Gavius.

--Quousque Tandem ...? collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  16,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Decapitation, and its attendant embellishments, was something of an occupational hazard for front-line political figures in Rome in the hundred years of civil war that led up to the assassination of Julius Caesar.  The head of Antony's own grandfather was said to have graced the dinner table of Gaius Marius in one of the pogroms of the early first century BC.  A cousin of Cicero had his severed head ('still alive and breathing', in Cicero's words) presented to the dictator Sulla.  And, in an even more baroque twist, the head of the unfortunate general Marcus Crassus, whose defeat by the Parthians in 53 BC counted among the worst Roman military disasters, ended up as a bit-part in a performance of Euripides' Bacchae at the Parthian Court.

--Quousque Tandem ...? collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  15,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Pride of place in the Philogelos goes to the 'egg-heads', who are the subject of almost half the jokes for their literal-minded scholasticism ('An egg-head doctor was seeing a patient.  "Doctor", he said, "when I get up in the morning I feel dizzy for 20 minutes."  Get up 20 minutes later, than."').  After the 'egg-heads', various ethnic jokes come a close second.  In a series of gags reminiscent of modern Irish or Polish jokes, the residents of three Greek towns - Abdera, Kyme and Sidon - are ridiculed for their 'how many Abderites does it take to change a light bulb?' style of stupidity.  Why these three places in particular, we have no idea.  But their inhabitants are portrayed as being as literal-minded as the egg-heads, and even more obtuse.  'An Abderite saw a eunuch talking to a woman and asked if she was his wife.  When he replied that eunuchs can't have wives, the Abderite asked, "So is she your daughter then?"

--What Made the Greeks Laugh? collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  14,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The tolerance of the Emperor Augustus in the face of quips and banter of all sorts was still being celebrated four centuries after his death.  One of the most famous one-liners of the ancient world, with an afterlife that stretches into the twentieth century (it gets retold, with a different cast of characters but the same punchline, both in Freud and in Iris Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea), was a joking insinuation about Augustus' paternity.  Spotting, so the story goes, a man from the provinces who looked much like himself, the emperor asked if the man's mother had ever worked in the palace.  'No', came the reply, 'but my father did.'  Augustus wisely did no more than grin and bear it.

--What Made the Greeks Laugh? collected in Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard

November  13,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The master in any art who abandons the methods of his mastery and falls back on prentice habits runs a fearful risk.  No lover, of any kind, not even the lover of himself, can safely turn from maturity to adolescence.  His adolescence is in his maturity.  The past may be recalled and redeemed in the present, but the present cannot be forsaken for the past.

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  12,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"The last infirmity of noble mind" can in fact make the mind so infirm that it becomes ignoble, as the divine Milton very well knew, or he would not have called it infirmity, nor caused Messias to reject it with such a high air; for paradise is regained not only by the refusal of sin but by the healing of infirmity.

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  11,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The hierarchy of the abyss does not know anything of equality, nor of any lovely balance within itself, nor (if he indeed be) does the lord of that hierarchy ever look up, subordinate to his subordinates, and see above him and transcending him the glory of his household.  So that never in all the myths, of Satan or Samael or Iblis or Ahriman, has there been any serious tale of that lord becoming flesh by human derivation; how could he be so supposed to submit, in bed or cradle?

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  10,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Wise readers of verse do their best to submit their voices to the verse, letting the words have their own proper value, and endeavor to leave them to their precise proportion and rhythm.

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  9,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

He knew the derivation of the word "Clerk," and that the original Greek meant "inheritance."  The clerks were the inheritors; that was the old wise meaning--men who gathered their inheritance. 

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  8,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Behind her, Evelyn's voice said, "Oh come away!"  At the words Lester, for the first time in her life, saw a temptation precisely as it is when it has ceased to tempt--repugnant, implausible, mean. 

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  7,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Betty was far away, gone as lovers and wives do go, as Richard's wife had gone, gone to her deathbed.  Betty's own bed was cold, even like her chastity.  I would I were where Betty lies; no wedding garment except this fear, in the quiet, in the quiet, in the quiet, where a figure of another world stood.  All things rose fluttering round it; beetles? too light for beetles: moths, bright light moths round a flame-formed dark; the cloak of the dark and the hunger in the dark.  The high moon a moth, and he; only not Betty, Betty dead like Richard's wife, dead women int he street of the City under the moon. 

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  6,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

She knew she had never really liked Evelyn, but Evelyn had been a habit, almost a drug, with which she filled spare hours.  Evelyn usually did what Lester wanted.  She would talk gossip which Lester did not quite like to talk, but did rather like to hear talked, because she could then listen to it while despising it.  

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  5,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

She had the common, vague idea of her age that if your sexual life was all right you were all right, and she had the common, vague idea of all ages that if you (and your sexual life) were not all right, it was probably someone else's fault--perhaps undeliberate, but still their fault. 

--All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams

November  4,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I found I had begun to understand the meaning of the young man's prophecy that I would come to appreciate death and what it had to offer.  Death was my only means of getting away for good from this body and all its pseudo-symptoms of disease and fear, from the constant awareness of this body, from this person, with his ruthlessness and sentimentality and ineffective, insincere, impracticable notions of behaving better, from attending to my own thoughts and from counting in thousands to smother them and from my face in the glass. 

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

November  3,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I could see through the window of a supermarket.  The place was still open; I went in and bought something I had never heard of by a writer whose first book, a satire on provincial life, I remembered had been commended at the time.  In the little cocktail bar of the University Arms, I got through about forty minutes' worth of this too, before going out and dropping it into a rubbish basket on the way back to my car.  To the endemic unreality of all fiction, the author had added contributions of his own: an inability to leave even the most utilitarian sentence unadorned by some verbal frill or knob or curlicue, recalling those savage cultures whose sacred objects and buildings are decorated in every square inch; a rooted habit of proceeding by way of violent and perfunctory transitions from one slackly observed scent to the next; and an unvaried method of characterization whereby, having portrayed a person as one sort of cliché, he presently revealed him as a predictable different sort of cliché.  Oh well, what had I expected?  The thing was a novel.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

[N.B.:  I wonder if Amis is criticizing himself here--after all, Lucky Jim, his well-received first novel, was a campus farce regarding provincial life.]

November  2,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

On bad days, sitting in a cinema can give me a curiously strong foretaste of dying, out of some fortuitous combination of the darkness, the felt presence of unseen strangers, the vast, unnaturally coloured, ever-changing images, the voices that are not quite like voices.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

November  1,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Sorry, Dad, it wasn't the time to say it, I know, but there's nothing good about being self-sufficient except over things that don't matter or when you've got to be because there just isn't anybody else around, but that isn't so in your case--it's bad that you don't depend on other people, especially the ones that depend on you.  I can see you're feeling rotten, but if anything really crappy happened and it could have been prevented by you telling someone like me, or Joyce, what was going on beforehand, then you'd only have yourself to blame, or rather I'd blame myself too for not going on at you about it.

--The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

October  31,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

A drama coach I once took lessons from told me a good actor should be able to act with the back of his head.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  30,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I will say this for suffering, that it lends a solemn weight to things and casts them in a starker, more revealing, light than any they have known hitherto.  It expands the spirit, flays off a protective integument and leaves the inner self rawly exposed to the elements, the nerves all bared and singing like harp-strings in the wind.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  29,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

To talk to her is like dropping stones into a deep well; the response that comes back is long-delayed and muted.  She has the wariness of a person much put-upon and menaced--that husband again--and before speaking seems to turn over every word carefully and examine it from all sides, testing its potential to displease and provoke.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  28,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

And thus we went on, scratching and tearing at each other, so the tears would not cease nor our ardour grow cool, until we had exhausted ourselves, or got too old, and called an unwilling truce that nowadays is disturbed by no more than an occasional, brief and half-hearted exchange of small-arms fire.  So that, I suppose, is why I think I do not know her, heave ceased to know her.  Quarreling, for us, was intimacy.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  27,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Around us the many noises of the hospital were joined together in a medleyed hum, and the air in the overheated room had the texture of warm damp cotton.  Through the window on the far side of the bed I could see the mountains, distant and faint, and, closer in, an extensive building site with cranes and mechanical diggers and many foreshortened workmen in helmets and yellow safety-jackets clambering about in the rubble.  It does not know how heartless it is, the workaday world.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  26,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

How--I ask it again--how did he not see what was going on between his mother and me?  How did they all not see?  Yet the answer is simple.  They saw what they expected to see and did not see what they did not expect.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  25,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Mrs. Gray had left a kettle of water on the stove, grumbling to itself over a low flame.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  24,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I have known many leading ladies but I had never been thus close up to a real film star before, and I had the odd impression of Dawn Devonport as a scaled-down replica of her public self, expertly fashioned and perfectly animate yet lacking some essential spark--duller, slightly dowdier, or just human, I suppose, just ordinarily human--and I did not know if I should feel disappointed, I mean disenchanted.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  23,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Rhetorical in the extreme, dramatically elaborated, wholly unnatural, synthetic and clotted, it is a style such as might be forged--le mot juste!--by a minor court official at Byzantium, say, a former slave whose master had generously allowed him the freedom of his extensive and eclectic library, a freedom the poor fellow all too eagerly availed himself of.  Our author--the tone is catching--our author is widely but unsystematically read, and used the rich tidbits that he gathered from all those books to cover up for the lack of an education--little Latin, less Greek, ha ha--although the effect is quite the opposite, for in every gorgeous image and convoluted metaphor, every instance of cod learning and mock scholarship, he unmistakably show himself up for the avid autodidact he indubitably is.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  22,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Families are strange institutions, and the inmates of them know many strange things, often without knowing that they know them.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  21,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

What may one know of another, even when it is one's own daughter?  A clever man whose name I have forgotten--my memory has become a sieve--put the poser: What is the length of a coastline?  It seems a simple enough challenge, readily met, by a professional surveyor, say, with his spyglass and tape measure.  But reflect a moment.  How finely calibrated must the tape measure be to deal with all those nooks and crannies?  And nooks have nooks, and crannies crannies, ad infinitum, or ad at least that indefinite boundary where matter, so called, shades off seamlessly into thin air.  Similarly, with the dimensions of a life it is a case of stopping at some certain level and saying this, this was she, though knowing of course that it was not.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  20,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

As I have said, we had not ever believed in the immortal soul, Lydia and I, and would smile i gentle condescension when others spoke of their hopes of some day seeing again departed loved ones, but there is nothing like the loss of an only child to soften the wax of sealed convictions.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  17,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When I look back all is flux, without beginning and flowing towards no end, or none that I shall experience, except as a final full stop.  The items of flotsam that I choose to salvage from the general wreckage--and what is a life but a gradual shipwreck?--may take on an aspect of inevitability when i put them on display in their glass showcases, but they are random; representative, perhaps, perhaps compellingly so, but random nonetheless.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  14,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

What do I recall of her, here in these soft pale days at the lapsing of the year?  Images from the far past crowd in my head and half the time I cannot tell whether they are memories or inventions.  Not that there is much difference between the two, if indeed there is any difference at all.  Some say that without realising it we make it all up as we go along, embroidering and embellishing, and I am inclined to credit it, for Madam Memory is a great and subtle dissembler.

--Ancient Light by John Banville

October  13,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"There is to be no form or parade--a sort of gipsy party.--We are to walk about your gardens, and gather the strawberries ourselves, and sit under trees ;--and whatever else you may like to provide, it is to be all out of doors--a table spread in the shade, you know.  Every thing as natural and simple as possible.  Is not that your idea?"

"Not quite.  My idea of the simple and the natural will be to have the table spread in the dining-room.  The nature and the simplicity of gentlemen and ladies, with their servants and furniture, I think is best observed by meals within doors.  When you are tired of eating strawberries in the garden, there shall be cold meat in the house."

--Emma by Jane Austen

October  12,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Mr. Churchill has pride; but his pride is nothing to his wife's : his is a quiet, indolent, gentleman-like sort of pride that would harm nobody, and only make himself a little helpless and tiresome ; but her pride is arrogance and insolence!  And what inclines one less to bear, she has no fair pretence of family or blood.  She was nobody when he married her, barely the daughter of a gentleman ; but ever since her being turned into a Churchill she has out-Churchill'd them all in high and mighty claims: but in herself, I assure you, she is an upstart."

--Emma by Jane Austen

October  11,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"My dear, you are too particular," said her husband.  "What does all that signify?  You will see nothing of it by candle-light.  It will be as clean as Randalls by candle-light.  We never see any thing of it on our club-nights."

The ladies here probably exchanged looks which meant, "Men never know when things are dirty or not;" and the gentlemen perhaps thought each to himself, "Women will have their little nonsenses and needless cares."

--Emma by Jane Austen

October  10,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer.

--Emma by Jane Austen

October  9,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Thriftless gives, not from a beneficent pleasure in giving, but from a lazy delight in spending.  He would not deny himself one enjoyment ; not his opera-stall, not his horse, not his dinner, not even the pleasure of giving Lazarus the five pounds.  Thrifty, who is good, wise, just, and owes no man a penny, turns from a beggar, haggles with a hackney-coachman, or denies a poor relation, and I doubt which is the most selfish of the two.  Money has only a different value in the eyes of each.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

October  8,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

And for my part I believe that remorse is the least active of all a man's moral sense--the very easiest to be deadened when wakened : and in some never wakened at all.  We grieve at being found out, and at the idea of shame or punishment : but the mere sense of wrong makes very few people unhappy in Vanity Fair.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

October  7,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"I could pay everybody, if I had but the money.  this is what the conjurors here pride themselves upon doing.  They look down with pity upon us miserable sinners who have none.  They think themselves generous if they give our children a five-pound note, and us contemptible if we are without one."  And who knows but Rebecca was right in her speculations--and that it was only a question of money and fortune which made the difference between her and an honest woman?  If you take temptations into account, who is to say that he is better than his neighbor?  A comfortable career of prosperity, if it does not make people honest, at least keeps them so.  An alderman coming from a turtle feast will not step out of his carriage to steal a leg of mutton ; but put him to starve, and see if he will not purloin a loaf.  Becky consoled herself by so balancing the chances and equalizing the distribution of good and evil in the world.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

October  6,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

As long as we have a man's body, we slay our Vanities upon it, surrounding it with humbug and ceremonies, laying it in state, and packing it up in gilt nails and velvet : and we finish our duty by placing over it a stone, all written over with lies.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

[N.B.:  Thackeray's viciousness as a writer is right up there with Shakespeare's.]

October  5,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Our luck may fail : our powers forsake us : our place on the boards be taken by better and younger mimers--the chance of life roll away and leave us shattered and stranded.  Then men will walk across the road when they meet you--or, worse still, hold you out a couple of fingers and patronize you in a pitying way--then you will know, as soon as your back is turned, that your friend begins with a "Poor devil, what imprudences he has committed, what chances that chap has thrown away!"  Well, well--a carriage and three thousand a year is not the summit of the reward nor the end of God's judgment of men.  If quacks prosper as often as they go tot he wall--if zanies succeed and knaves arrive at fortune, and vice versa, sharing ill luck and prosperity for all the world like the ablest and most honest amongst us--I say, brother, the gifts and pleasures of Vanity Fair cannot be held of any great account, and that it is probable *  *  *  *  but we are wandering out of the domain of the story.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

[N.B.:  So what might those four ellipses mean?  "They burn in hell"?]

October  4,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

He was proud of his hatred as of everything else.  Always to be right, always to trample forward, and never to doubt ; are not these the great qualities with which dulness takes to lead in the world?

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

October  3,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Who has not seen how women bully women?  What tortures have men to endure, comparable to those daily repeated shafts of scorn and cruelty with which poor women are riddled by the tyrants of their sex?  Poor victims!

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

October  2,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Well, my dear Blanche," said the mother, "I suppose, as Papa wants to go, we must go ' but we needn't know them in England, you know."  And so, determined to cut their new acquaintance in Bond street, these great folks went to eat his dinner at Brussels, and condescending to make him pay for their pleasure, showed their dignity by making his wife uncomfortable, and carefully excluding her from the conversation.  This is a species of dignity in which the high-bred British female reigns supreme.  To watch the behaviour of a fine lady to other and humbler women, is a very good sport for a philosophical frequenter of Vanity Fair.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

October  1,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

What is the secret mesmerism which friendship possesses, and under the operation of which a person ordinarily sluggish, or cold, or timid, becomes wise, active, and resolute, in another's behalf?  As Alexis, after a few passes from Dr. Elliotson, despises pain, reads with the back of his head, sees miles off, looks into next week, and performs other wonders, of which in his own private normal condition, he is quite incapable ; so you see, in the affairs of the world and under the magnetism of friendship, the modest man become bold, the shy confident, the lazy active, or the impetuous prudent and peaceful.

--Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray



  1. Escape from the Terror: The Journal of Madame de la Tour du Pin by Madame De La Tour Du Pin
  2. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
  3. Paris After the Liberation by Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper


  1. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
  2. Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis


Patrick: Kathryn:


  • Story by Robert McKee
  • Consilience by Edward O. Wilson



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