Well we know what the entire English Department was doing yesterday. Due to the 13 comments I got on the Facebook post yesterday asking for famous literary quotes about snow/despair I found myself googling like mad today to appease you all. So without further ado, here is what this week’s madness reminds you of:
Joseph P. Fisher recommends Jack London’s “To Build A Fire”
English Dept GWU (this was either Jeffrey Cohen or Gayle Wald, the other tWo admins for our lovely little Facebook page) suggested Wallace Stevens “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”
Maria Frawley mentioned Robert Frost
|A Patch of Old Snow|
Holly Dugan noted Shakespeare’s Florizel in The Winter’s Tale swears by “the fann’d/snow that’s bolted/By the northern blasts twice o’er…”
Gowri Koneswaran would like to honor the late J.D. Salinger with this famous quote from The Catcher in the Rye
“I went over to my window and opened it and packed a snowball with my bare hands. The snow was very good for packing. I didn’t throw it at anything, though. I started to throw it. At a car that was parked across the street. But I changed my mind. The car looked so nice and white. Then I started to throw it at a hydrant, but that looked too nice and white, too. Finally I didn’t throw it at anything. All I did was close the window and walk around the room with the snowball, packing it harder. A little while later, I still had it with me when I and Brossard and Ackley got on the bus. The bus driver opened the doors and made me throw it out. I told him I wasn’t going to chuck it at anybody, but he wouldn’t believe me. People never believe you.”
Robert McRuer recalled Ohran Pamuk’s aptly titled novel Snow. He is also partial to “the scene in Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise where they look out at the blankness of Lake Erie and describe the snow as beautiful when it’s essentially just a white screen of nothingness.”
“These sights spoke of a stranger and powerful loneliness. It was as if he were in a place that the whole world had forgotten, as if it were snowing at the end of the world.”-Pamuk
Christopher Griffin (who started this fun) would like to contribute another quote to the blog. This time from James Joyce’s “The Dead.”
“Snow was general all over Ireland, . . . falling softly on all the living and the dead.”
He also would like to share Louis MacNeice’s poem “Snow.”
The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was Spawning snow and pink roses against it Soundlessly collateral and incompatible: World is suddener than we fancy it. World is crazier and more of it than we think, Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion A tangerine and spit the pips and feel The drunkenness of things being various. And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes - On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands - There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.
And finally Derek Mahon’s “The Snow Party.”
Thanks to Simile1000 (whoever you are, we thank you) for this spectacular quote from Melville’s Moby Dick.
“Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color; and at the same time the concrete of all colors; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows–a colorless, all-color of atheism from which we shrink? And when we consider that other theory of the natural philosophers, that all other earthly hues–every stately or lovely emblazoning–the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtile deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house within; and when we proceed further, and consider that the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her hues, the great principle of light, for ever remains white or colorless in itself, and if operating without medium upon matter, would touch all objects, even tulips and roses, with its own blank tinge–pondering all this, the palsied universe lies before us a leper; and like wilful travellers in Lapland, who refuse to wear colored and coloring glasses upon their eyes, so the wretched infidel gazes himself blind at the monumental white shroud that wraps all the prospect around him. And of all these things the Albino whale was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?“
And I will leave you with a fabulous Julia Alvarez quote from Snow mentioned by Hache Carillo.
“…Soon I picked up enough English to understand holocaust was in the air. Sister Zoe explained to a wide-eyed classroom what was happening in Cuba. Russian missiles were being assembled, trained supposedly on New York City. President Kennedy, looking worried too, was on the television at home, explaining we might have to go to war against the Communists. At school, we had air-raid drills: An ominous bell would go off and we’d file into the hall, fall to the floor, cover our heads with our coats, and imagine our hair falling out, the bones in our arms going soft. At home, Mami and my sisters and I said a rosary for world peace. I heard new vocabulary: nuclear bomb, radioactive fallout, bomb shelter. Sister Zoe explained how it would happen. She drew a picture of a mushroom on the blackboard and dotted a flurry of chalk marks for the dusty fallout that would kill us all.
The months grew cold, November, December. It was dark when I got up in the morning, frosty when I followed my breath to school. One morning, as I sat at my desk daydreaming out the window, I saw dots in the air like the ones Sister Zoe had drawn—random at first, then lots and lots. I shrieked, “Bomb! Bomb!” Sister Zoe jerked around, her full black skirt ballooning as she hurried to my side. A few girls began to cry.… See more
But then Sister Zoe’s shocked look faded. “Why, Yolanda dear, that’s snow!” She laughed. “Snow.”
“Snow,” I repeated. I looked out the window warily. All my life I had heard about the white crystals that fell out of American skies in the winter. From my desk I watched the fine powder dust the sidewalk and parked cars below. Each flake was different, Sister Zoe had said, like a person, irreplaceable and beautiful. “