It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced--or seemed to face--the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.
I'm p-paralyzed with happiness." - She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she had.
Her face, the face of a saint, a viking Madonna, shone through the faint motes that snowed across the candlelight, drew down its flush from the wine-colored lanterns in the pine. She was still as still.
They were uncertain, resentful, and somewhat ill at ease. This they hid by pretending an elaborate relief at being out of the army, and by assuring each other that military discipline should never again rule their stubborn, liberty-loving wills. Yet, as a matter of fact, they would have felt more at home in a prison than in this newfound and unquestionable freedom.
Through this twilight universe Daisy began to move again with the season; suddenly she was again keeping half a dozen dates a day with half a dozen men, and drowsing asleep at dawn with the beads and chiffon of an evening dress tangled among dying orchids on the floor beside her bed.
I'll never be a poet,' said Amory as he finished. 'I'm not enough of a sensualist really; there are only a few obvious things that I notice as primarily beautiful: women, spring evenings, music at night, the sea; I don't catch the subtle things like 'silver-snarling trumpets.' I may turn out an intellectual, but I'll never right anything but mediocre poetry.
It'd be a good setting to jump overboard,' said Dick mildly.'Wouldn't it?' agreed Nicole hastily. 'Let's borrow life-preservers and jump over. I think we should do something spectacular. I feel that all our lives have been too restrained."
After marriage came elation, and then, gradually, the growth of weariness. Responsibility descended upon Merlin, the responsibility of making his thirty dollars a week and her twenty suffice to keep them respectably fat and to hide with decent garments the evidence that they were."
But with every word she was drawing further and further into herself, so he gave that up, and only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room."
Then a strange thing happened. She turned to him and smiled, and as he saw her smile every rag of anger and hurt vanity dropped form him - as though his very moods were but the outer ripples of her own, as though emotion rose no longer in his breast unless she saw fit to pull an omnipotent controlling thread.
Amory wondered how people could fail to notice that he was a boy marked for glory, and when faces of the throng turned toward him and ambiguous eyes stared into his, he assumed the most romantic of expressions and walked on the air cushions that lie on the asphalts of fourteen...
First, he realized that the sea was blue and that there was an enormous quantity of it, and that it roared and roared-really all the banalities about the ocean that one could realize, but if any one had told him then that these things were banalities, he would have gaped in wonder.
Her grey, sun-strained eyes stared straight ahead, but she had deliberately shifted our relations, and for a moment I thought I loved her. But I am slow-thinking and full of interior rules that act as brakes on my desires, and I knew that first I had to get myself definitely out of that tangle back home.
Once one is caught up into the material world not one person in ten thousand finds the time to form literary taste, to examine the validity of philosophic concepts for himself, or to form what, for lack of a better phrase, I might call the wise and tragic sense of life.
He did not understand all he had heard, but from his clandestine glimpse into the privacy of these two, with all the world that his short experience could conceive of at their feet, he had gathered that life for everybody was a struggle, sometimes magnificent from a distance, but always difficult and surprisingly simple and a little sad.
I hate dainty minds,' answered Marjorie. 'But a girl has to be dainty in person. If she looks like a million dollars she can talk about Russia, ping-pong, or the League of Nations and get away with it.
I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all--Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.
He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was ....
Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.
At any rate, let us love for a while, for a year or so, you and me. That's a form of divine drunkenness that we can all try. There are only diamonds in the whole world, diamonds and perhaps the shabby gift of disillusion.
I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him. [- Nick Carroway]
You will walk differently alone, dear, through a thicker atmosphere, forcing your way through the shadows of chairs, through the dripping smoke of the funnels. You will feel your own reflection sliding along the eyes of those who look at you. You are no longer insulated; but I suppose you must touch life in order to spring from it.
Poetry is either something that lives like fire inside you -- like music to the musician or Marxism to the Communist -- or else it is nothing, an empty, formalized bore around which pedants can endlessly drone their notes and explanations.
How the unforgettable faces of dusk would blend to her, the myriad footsteps, a thousand overtures, would blend to her footsteps; and there would be more drunkenness than wine in the softness of her eyes on his.
For years afterwards when Amory thought of Eleanor he seemed still to hear the wind sobbing around him and sending little chills into the places beside his heart. The night when they rode up the slope and watched the cold moon float through the clouds, he lost a further part of him that nothing could restore; and when he lost it he lost also the power of regretting it.
For a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
The first lights of the evening were springing into pale existence. The Ferris wheel, pricked out now in lights, revolved leisurely through the dusk; a few empty cars of the roller coaster rattled overhead.
New York had all the iridescence of the beginning of the world. The returning troops marched up Fifth Avenue and girls were instinctively drawn East and North toward them - this was the greatest nation and there was gala in the air.
Joan Crawford is doubtless the best example of the flapper, the girl you see in smart night clubs, gowned to the apex of sophistication, toying iced glasses with a remote, faintly bitter expression, dancing deliciously, laughing a great deal, with wide, hurt eyes. Young things with a talent for living.
Intermittently she caught the gist of his sentences and supplied the rest from her subconscious, as one picks up the striking of a clock in the middle with only the rhythm of the first uncounted strokes lingering in the mind.
I learned a little of beauty - enough to know that it had nothing to do with truth - and I found, moreover, that there was no great literary tradition; there was only the tradition of the eventful death of every literary tradition.
And lastly from that period I remember riding in a taxi one afternoon between very tall buildings under a mauve and rosy sky; I began to bawl because I had everything I wanted and knew I would never be so happy again.
When the first-rate author wants an exquisite heroine or a lovely morning, he finds that all the superlatives have been worn shoddy by his inferiors. It should be a rule that bad writers must start with plain heroines and ordinary mornings, and, if they are able, work up to something better.
Daisy began to sing with the music in a husky, rhythmic whisper, bringing out a meaning in each word that it had never had before and would never have again. When the melody rose, her voice broke up sweetly, following it, in a way contralto voices have, and each change tipped out a little of her warm human magic upon the air.
Sometimes I think that idlers seem to be a special class for whom nothing can be planned, plead as one will with them - their only contribution to the human family is to warm a seat at the common table.
It's a great advantage not to drink among hard-drinking people. You can hold your tongue, and, moreover, you can time any little irregularity of your own so that everybody else is so blind that they don't see or care.
I have asked a lot of my emotions-one hundred and twenty stories. The price was high, right up with Kipling, because there was one little drop of something, not blood, not a tear, not my seed, but me more intimately than these, in every story, it was the extra I had. Now it has gone and I am just like you now.
Gold? Yellow, glittering, precious gold?... This yellow slave Will knit and break religions, bless th' accursed, Make the hoar leprosy adored, place thieves, And give them title, knee and approbation With senators on the bench.
It was dawn now on Long Island and we went about opening the rest of the windows downstairs, filling the house with gray-turning, gold-turning light. The Shadow of a tree fell abruptly across the dew and ghostly birds began to sing among the blue leaves. There was a slow, pleasant movement in the air, scarcely a wind, promising a cool, lovely day.
If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that registered earthquakes ten thousand miles away.
the cracked plate has to be retained in the pantry, has to be kept in service as a household necessity. It can never be warmed on the stove nor shuffled with the other plates in the dishpan; it will not be brought out for company but it will do to hold crackers late at night or to go into the ice-box with the left overs.
In a few days I'll have lived one score and three days in this vale of tears. On I plod-always bored, often drunk, doing no penance for my faults-rather do I become more tolerant of myself from day to day, hardening my crystal heart with blasphemous humor and shunning only toothpicks, pathos, and poverty as being the three unforgivable things in life.
I've given parties that have made Indian rajahs green with envy. I've had prima donnas break $10,000 engagements to come to my smallest dinners. When you were still playing button back in Ohio, I entertained on a cruising trip that was so much fun that I had to sink my yacht to make my guests go home.
Think how you love me,' she whispered. 'I don't ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember.' You'll always be like this to me.' Oh no; but promise me you'll remember.' Her tears were falling. 'I'll be different, but somewhere lost inside me there'll always be the person I am tonight.
They were stars on this stage, each playing to an audience of two: the passion of their pretense created the actuality. Here, finally, was the quintessence of self-expression-- yet it was probable that for the most part their love expressed Gloria rather than Anthony. He felt often like a scarecly tolerated guest at a party she was giving.
It isn't given to us to know those rare moments when people are wide open and the lightest touch can wither or heal. A moment too late and we can never reach them any more in this world. They will not be cured by our most efficacious drugs or slain with our sharpest swords.
She was a dark, unenduring little flower - yet he thought he detected in her some quality of spiritual reticence, of strength drawn from her passive acceptance of all things. In this he was mistaken.
Girls like you are responsible for all the tiresome colorless marriages; all those ghastly inefficiencies that pass as feminine qualities. What a blow it must be when a man with imagination marries the beautiful bundle of clothes that he's been building ideals around, and finds that she's just a weak, whining, cowardly mass of affectations!
I don't think he was ever happy unless someone was in love with him, responding to him like filings to a magnet, helping him to explain himself, promising him something. What it was I do not know. Perhaps they promised that there would always be women in the world who would spend their brightest, freshest, rarest hours to nurse and protect that superiority he cherished in his heart.
The sheath that held her soul had assumed significance - that was all. She was a sun, radiant, growing, gathering light and storing it - then after an eternity pouring it forth in a glance, the fragment of a sentence, to that part of him that cherished all beauty and all illusion.
The soft rush of taxis by him, and laughter, laughters hoarse as a crow's, incessant and loud, with the rumble of the subways underneath - and over all, the revolutions of light, the growings and recedings of light - light dividing like pearls - forming and reforming in glittering bars and circles and monstrous grotesque figures cut amazingly on the sky.
A lonesome town, though. He who had grown up alone had lately learned to avoid solitude. During the past several months he had been careful, when he had no engagement for the evening, to hurry to one of his clubs and find someone. Oh there was a loneliness here--
Something bright and alien flashed across the sky... and for a moment people set down their glasses in country clubs and speakeasies and thought of their old best dreams. Maybe there was a way out by flying, maybe our restless blood could find frontiers in the illimitable air. But by that time we were all pretty well committed; and the Jazz Age continued; we would all have one more.
Aristocracy's only an admission that certain traits which we call fine - courage and honor and beauty and all that sort of thing - can best be developed in a favorable environment, where you don't have the warpings of ignorance and necessity.
He desired her and, so far as her virginal emotions went, she contemplated a surrender with equanimity. Yet she knew she would forget him half an hour after she left him - like an actor kissed in a picture.
Deep in his heart, he wondered if he was after all worse than this man or the next. He knew that he could sophisticate himself finally into saying that his own weakness was just the result of circumstances and environment; that often when he raged at himself as an egotist something would whisper ingratiatingly: "No. Genius!
Ah," she cried, "you look so cool." Their eyes met, and they stared together at each other, alone in space. With an effort she glanced down at the table.You always look so cool," she repeated.She had told him that she loved him, and Tom Buchanan saw.
I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect. And it's these things I'd believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn't all she should be. I love her and it is the beginning of everything.
Later she remembered all the hours of the afternoon as happy -- one of those uneventful times that seem at the moment only a link between past and future pleasure, but turn out to have been the pleasure itself.
France was a land, England was a people, but America, having about it still that quality of the idea, was harder to utter - it was the graves at Shiloh and the tired, drawn, nervous faces of its great men, and the country boys dying in the Argonne for a phrase that was empty before their bodies withered. It was a willingness of the heart.
Amory took to writing poetry on spring afternoons, in the gardens of the big estates near Princeton, while swans made effective atmosphere in the artificial pools, and slow clouds sailed harmoniously above the willow. May came too soon, and suddenly unable to bear walls, he wandered the campus at all hours through starlight and rain.
Sometimes I wish I'd went through those good times stone cold sober so I could remember everything," he said, "but then again, if I had been sober the times probably wouldn't have been worth remembering.
She wouldn't let go of the letter. She took it into the tub with her and squeezed it up in a wet ball, and only let me leave it in the soap dish when she saw that it was coming to pieces like snow.
For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy's wing.
She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn't beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful.
I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.
Courage to me means ploughing through that dull gray mist that comes down on life-not only overriding people and circumstances but overriding the bleakness of living. A sort of insistence on the value of life and the worth of transient things...My courage is faith-faith in the eternal resilience of me-that joy'll come back, and hope and spontaneity. And I feel that till it does, I've got to keep my lips shut and my chin high, and my eyes wide
Now he realized the truth: that sacrifice was no purchase of freedom. It was like a great elective office, it was like an inheritance of power - to certain people at certain times an essential luxury, carrying with it not a guarantee but a responsibility, not a security but an infinite risk. Its very momentum might drag him down to ruin - the passing of the emotional wave that made it possible might leave the one who made it high and dry forever on an island of despair...Sacrifice by its very nature was arrogant and impersonal; sacrifice should be eternally supercilious.
He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced--or seemed to face--the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.
Her fine high forehead sloped gently up to where her hair, bordering it like an armorial shield, burst into lovelocks and waves and curlicues of ash blonde and gold. Her eyes were bright, big, clear, wet and shining, the colour of her cheeks was real, breaking close to the surface from the strong young pump of her heart. Her body hovered delicately on the last edge of childhood -- she was almost eighteen, nearly complete, but the dew was still on her.
Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves - that's the truth. We have two or three great and moving experiences in our lives - experiences so great and moving that it doesn't seem at the time anyone else has been so caught up and so pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way ever before. Then we learn our trade, well or less well, and we tell our two or three stories - each time in a new disguise - maybe ten times, maybe a hundred, as long as people will listen.
A love affair is like a short story--it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning was easy, the middle might drag, invaded by commonplace, but the end, instead of being decisive and well knit with that element of revelatory surprise as a well-written story should be, it usually dissipated in a succession of messy and humiliating anticlimaxes.
She saw him the first day on board, and then her heart sank into her shoes as she realized at last how much she wanted him. No matter what his past was, no matter what he had done. Which was not to say that she would ever let him know, but only that he moved her chemically more than anyone she had ever met, that all other men seemed pale beside him.
Don't let yourself feel worthless: often through life you will really be at your worst when you seem to think best of yourself; and don't worry about losing your "personality," as you persist in calling it: at fifteen you had the radiance of early morning, at twenty you will begin to have the melancholy brilliance of the moon, and when you are my age you will give out, as I do, the genial golden warmth of 4 p.m.
My latest tendency is to collapse about 11:00 and with the tears flowing from my eyes or the gin rising to their level and leaking over, and tell interested friends or acquaintances that I haven't a friend in the world and likewise care for nobody....
...the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise. This philosophy fitted on to my early adult life, when I saw the improbable, the implausible, often the "impossible," come true.
She smiled at him, making sure that the smile gathered up everything inside her and directed it toward him, making him a profound promise of herself for so little, for the beat of a response, the assurance of a complimentary vibration in him.
There was one of his lonelinesses coming, one of those times when he walked the streets or sat, aimless and depressed, biting a pencil at his desk. It was a self-absorption with no comfort, a demand for expression with no outlet, a sense of time rushing by, ceaselessly and wastefully - assuaged only by that conviction that there was nothing to waste, because all efforts and attainments were equally valueless.
That was always my experience-a poor boy in a rich town; a poor boy in a rich boy's school; a poor boy in a rich man's club at Princeton .... However, I have never been able to forgive the rich for being rich, and it has colored my entire life and works.
How strange to have failed as a social creatureΓ’ΒΒeven criminals do not fail that wayΓ’ΒΒthey are the law's "Loyal Opposition," so to speak. But the insane are always mere guests on earth, eternal strangers carrying around broken decalogues that they cannot read.
He must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about...like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees.
She had an air of seeming to wait, as if for a man to get through with something more important than herself, a battle or an operation, during which he must not be hurried or interfered with. When the man had finished she would be waiting, without fret or impatience, somewhere on a highstool, turning the pages of a newspaper.
I simply state that I'm a product of a versatile mind in a restless generation-with every reason to throw my mind and pen in with the radicals. Even if, deep in my heart, I thought we were all blind atoms in a world as limited as a stroke of a pendulum, I and my sort would struggle against tradition; try, at least, to displace old cants with new ones. I've thought I was right about life at various times, but faith is difficult. One thing I know. If living isn't seeking for the grail it may be a damned amusing game.
Beauty is only to be admired, only to be loved - to be harvested carefully and then flung at a chosen lover like a gift of roses. It seems to me, so far as I can judge clearly at all, that my beauty would be used like that...
i'm in a muddle about a lot of things -- i've just discovered that i've a mind, and i'm starting to read" "read what?" "everything. i have to pick and choose, of course, but mostly things that make me think.