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Donna Tartt Quotes

40 of the best book quotes from Donna Tartt
01
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“‘He’s telling you that living things don’t last - it’s all temporary. Death in life. That’s why they’re called natures mortes. Maybe you don’t see it at first with all the beauty and bloom, the little speck of rot. But if you look closer - there it is.’”
Donna Tartt
author
The Goldfinch
book
Audrey Decker
character
nature
temporary
life
death
concepts
02
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“But sometimes, unexpectedly, grief pounded over me in waves that left me gasping; and when the waves washed back, I found myself looking out over a brackish wreck which was illumined in a light so lucid, so heartsick and empty, that I could hardly remember that the world had ever been anything but dead.”
03
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“We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.”
04
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“To understand the world at all, sometimes you could only focus on a tiny bit of it, look very hard at what was close to hand and make it stand in for the whole.”
05
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“Every new event - everything I did for the rest of my life - would only separate us more and more: days she was no longer a part of, an ever-growing distance between us. Every single day for the rest of my life, she would only be further away.”
06
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“Who was it said that coincidence was just God’s way of remaining anonymous?”
07
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“...beauty alters the grain of reality. And I keep thinking too of the more conventional wisdom: namely, that the pursuit of pure beauty is a trap, a fast track to bitterness and sorrow, that beauty has to be wedded to something more meaningful.”
08
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“A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.”
09
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“And as much as I’d like to believe there’s a truth beyond illusion, I’ve come to believe that there’s no truth beyond illusion. Because, between ‘reality’ on the one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there’s a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very different surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not: and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic.”
10
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“That life - whatever else it is - is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open. And in the midst of our dying, as we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch.”
11
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“When we are sad - at least I am like this - it can be comforting to cling to familiar objects, to the things that don’t change.”
12
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“I had the epiphany that laughter was light, and light was laughter, and that this was the secret of the universe.”
13
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“‘The world won’t come to me,’ he used to say, ‘so I must go to it.’”
14
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“Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only - if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things - beautiful things - that they connect you to some larger beauty?”
15
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“You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.”
16
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“Stay away from the ones you love too much. Those are the ones who will kill you.”
17
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“Sometimes it’s about playing a poor hand well.”
18
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“Sometimes we want what we want even if we know it’s going to kill us.”
19
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“‘When you feel homesick,’ he said, ‘just look up. Because the moon is the same wherever you go.’”
20
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“I am acting out of love, I feel I am doing best I know how.”
21
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“It’s funny, but thinking back on it now, I realize that this particular point in time, as I stood there blinking in the deserted hall, was the one point at which I might have chosen to do something very much different from what I actually did.”
22
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“Beauty is rarely soft or consolatory. Quite the contrary. Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.”
23
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“I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.”
24
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“Henry’s a perfectionist, I mean, really-really kind of inhuman — very brilliant, very erratic and enigmatic. He’s a stiff, cold person, Machiavellian, ascetic and he’s made himself what he is by sheer strength of will.”
25
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“His aspiration is to be this Platonic creature of pure rationality and that’s why he’s attracted to the Classics, and particularly to the Greeks — all those high, cold ideas of beauty and perfection. I think it’s what in the end that gets him into trouble.”
26
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“And standing outside the Lyceum, I was struck with a black, incredulous horror, which in fact was not at all unlike the horror I had felt at twelve, sitting on a bar stool in our sunny little kitchen in Plano. Who is in control here? I thought, dismayed. Who is flying this plane?”
27
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“The idea of living there, of not having to go back ever again to asphalt and shopping malls and modular furniture; of living there with Charles and Camilla and Henry and Francis and maybe even Bunny; of no one marrying or going home or getting a job in a town a thousand miles away or doing any of the traitorous things friends do after college; of everything remaining exactly as it was, that instant – the idea was so truly heavenly that I’m not sure I thought, even then, it could ever really happen, but I like to believe I did.”
28
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“To be absolutely free! One is quite capable, of course, of working out these destructive passions in more vulgar and less efficient ways. But how glorious to release them in a single burst! To sing, to scream, to dance barefoot in the woods in the dead of night, with no more awareness of mortality than an animal!”
29
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“These are powerful mysteries. The bellowing of bulls. Springs of honey bubbling from the ground. If we are strong enough in our souls we can rip away the veil and look that naked, terrible beauty right in the face; let God consume us, devour us, unstring our bones. Then spit us out reborn.”
30
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We think we have many desires, but in fact we have only one. What is it?” “To live,” said Camilla. “To live forever,” said Bunny, chin cupped in palm.”
31
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“But of course I didn’t see this crucial moment for what it actually was; I suppose we never do. Instead, I only yawned, and shook myself from the momentary daze that had come upon me, and went on my way down the stairs.”
32
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“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.”
33
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“I realized that the childish impression I had always had of my father, as Just Lawgiver, was entirely wrong. We were utterly dependent on this man, who was not only deluded and ignorant, but incompetent in every way. What was more, I knew that my mother was incapable of standing up to him. It was like walking into the cockpit of an airplane and finding the pilot and co-pilot passed out drunk in their seats.”
34
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“It is is better to know one book intimately than a hundred superficially.”
35
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“Does such a thing as ‘the fatal flaw,’ that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn’t. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs.”
36
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“Forgive me, for all the things I did but mostly for the ones that I did not.”
37
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“Are you happy here?” I said at last. He considered this for a moment. “Not particularly,” he said. “But you’re not very happy where you are, either.”
38
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“It was if the charming theatrical curtain had dropped away and I saw him for the first time as he really was: not the benign old sage, the indulgent and protective good-parent of my dreams, but ambiguous, a moral neutral, whose beguiling trappings concealed a being watchful, capricious, and heartless.”
39
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“There is nothing wrong with the love of Beauty. But Beauty – unless she is wed to something more meaningful – is always superficial.”
40
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“Love doesn’t conquer everything. And whoever thinks it does is a fool.”

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