Graham Swift Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 31 quotes)
Pillow talk. It's how you know, it's how you tell, that something different, something special is happening: that this might even be the most important night of your life. Some day -some night- I hope you both may know it, with whoever it may be: the wish, stealing up on you, not to just merge bodies, but all you have, all your years, all your memories up to that point. And why should you wish to do that, if you haven't already guessed that your future too, will be shared?
Hamlet's mother says to Hamlet, "Why seems it so particular with thee?" What is the difference between belief and make-belief? What makes us give to any one belief (since it is only a matter of shifting, tuning the mind) the peculiar weight of actuality? "For there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
Life goes on. It doesn't go on. Yes, yes, I know, all we want in the end, we living, breathing creatures (am I still one of them?) is life. All we want to believe in is the persistence and vitality of life. Faced with the choice between death and the merest hint of life, what scrap, what token wouldn't we cling to in order to keep that belief? A leaf? A single moist, green leaf? That will do, that will be enough.
Realism; fatalism; phlegm. To live in the Fens is to receive strong doses of reality. The great flat monotony of reality; the wide empty space of reality. Melancholia and self-murder are not unknown in the Fens. Heavy drinking, madness and sudden acts of violence are not uncommon. How do you surmount reality, children? How do you acquire, in a flat country, the tonic of elevated feelings?
The oak was, of course, a great stealer of the surrounding pasture—its only value to provide shade for the livestock—but it was a magnificent tree. It had been there at least as long as Luxtons had owned the land. To have removed it would have been unthinkable (as well as a forbidding practical task). It simply went with the farm. No one taking in that view for the first time could have failed to see that the tree was the immovable, natural companion of the farmhouse, or, to put it another way, that so long as the tree stood, so must the farmhouse. And no mere idle visitor—especially if they came from a city and saw that tree on a summer’s day—could have avoided the simpler thought that it was a perfect spot for a picnic.
Literature, after all, from Homer onwards, is littered with the recounting of deaths and with the fascination for death, and in this it only expresses what we all repeatedly dwell on but do not necessarily or readily voice. So far as death goes, I don't claim any oddity. There is only one sea: I'm in the same boat as everyone else. And that seems, more generally, to be the position that every novelist, unless they are possessed of a peculiar arrogance, should take: I am mortal too, I am human too. I too, like you, share life's joys, pains, confusions. We're all in the same boat.
I taught you that there is never any end to that question, because, as I once defined it for you (yes, I confess a weakness for improvised definitions), history is that impossible thing: the attempt to give an account with incomplete knowledge, of actions themselves undertaken with incomplete knowledge.
But this would have been to ignore the young man of only twenty-five, who, for all his, by now, increasing and debilitating proneness to thought, still possessed, in spite of himself, a healthy animal nature. He falls in love, heavily, thickly, thankfully (is there any other way?). He is still--thank God--open to experience. He sees himself, indeed, as "saved"--returned to the sweet, palpable goodness of the world.
Children, be curious. Nothing is worse (I know it) than when curiosity stops. Nothing is more repressive than the repression of curiosity. Curiosity begets love. It weds us to the world. It's part of our perverse, madcap love for this impossible planet we inhabit. People die when curiosity goes. People have to find out, people have to know.
Children, only animals live entirely in the Here and Now. Only nature knows neither memory nor history. But man - let me offer you a definition - is the storytelling animal. Wherever he goes he wants to leave behind not a chaotic wake, not an empty space, but the comforting marker-buoys and trail-signs of stories. He has to go on telling stories. He has to keep on making them up. As long as there's a story, it's all right. Even in his last moments, it's said, in the split second of a fatal fall - or when he's about to drown - he sees, passing rapidly before him, the story of his whole life.