10 Memorable Quotes from “The Master” by Colm Tóibín

1. “Somehow, in the years that followed, the shadowy presences interested him as much as the famous ones, the figures who had not become known, who had failed, or who had never planned to flourish.” (p. 4).

2. “For the first time in years, he felt the deep sadness of exile, knowing that he was alone here, an outsider, and too alert to the ironies, the niceties, the manners and, indeed, the morals to be able to participate.” (p. 44).

3. “He wondered at how, every day, as they moved around each other, each of them had stored away an entirely private world to which they could return at the sound of a name, or for no reason at all.” (p. 100).

4. “Henry Senior did not believe that his own sons should join, he said, because he did not believe that any existing government, or any future government, was worth an honest human life or a clean one like theirs.” (p. 149).

5. “Even the names opened for him a world of possibility beyond the surrounding dullness and domesticity and patriotism and religiosity: Sainte-Beuve, the Goncourts, Mérimée, Renan. Names which suggested not only the modern mind at its most inquiring but the idea of style itself, of thinking as a kind of style, and the writing of essays not as a conclusive call to duty or an earnest effort at self-location, but as play, as the wielding of tone.” (p. 150).

6. “Not the clothes of the dead, no one will want the clothes of the dead.” (p. 251).

7. “He allowed himself to love these streets, as though they were a poem he had once memorized, and the years when he had first seen these colors and stones and studied these faces seemed a rich and valuable part of what he was now.” (p. 256).

8. “You do not have in your possession the knowledge which Dickens or George Eliot or Trollope or Thackeray possessed of the mechanics of English greed…I believe that the English can never be your true subject. And I believe that your style has suffered from the strain of constantly dramatizing social insipidity.” (p. 316).

9. “And it comes strongly over me in bidding you good-bye how life is but a day and expresses mainly but a single note. It is so much like the art of bidding an ordinary good night. Good night, my sacred old father! If I don’t see you again — Farewell! A blessed farewell!” (p. 321).

10. “He walked up and down the stairs, going into the rooms as though they, too, in how they yielded to him, belonged to an unrecoverable past, and would join the room with the tasseled tablecloths and the screens and the shadowed corners, and all the other rooms from whose windows he had observed the world, so that they could be remembered and captured and held.” (p. 338).

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