2015 in books (and passages)
Sometimes one can derive more pleasure from collecting passages than from actually reading entire oeuvres. Perhaps because collecting feels like one is appropriating nuggets of wisdom and sensibility — an inventory of glimpses into the true nature of human existence — or maybe, because it is just a silly and futile exercise in aesthetic self-stimulation.
The list bellow contains the books that I read in 2015. Each title — ordered by date read — is followed by my favorite passage in that book and a 5-star rating — rating systems can be misleading though; they most possibly reflect a projection of the things that I think that I, or you, should like the most.
1. Sodome et Gomorrhe (À la recherche du temps perdu #4)
by Marcel Proust
Car aux troubles de la mémoire sont liées les intermittences du cœur.
2. Macunaíma: O herói sem nenhum caráter
by Mario de Andrade
Tudo o que fora a existência dele apesar de tantos casos tanta brincadeira tanta ilusão tanto sofrimento tanto heroísmo, afinal não fora sinão um se deixar viver; e pra parar na cidade do Delmiro ou na ilha de Marajó que são desta terra carecia de ter um sentido.
3. Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Droll thing life is — that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself — that comes too late — a crop of unextinguishable regrets.
4. Antologia do Pensamento Crítico Russo (1802–1901)
by Bruno Barreto Gomide (editor)
Seja o que for nossa literatura, seu significado, em qualquer caso, é muito mais importante para nós do que possa parecer: é nela, e apenas nela, que está toda nossa vida intelectual e a poesia de nossa vida. Apenas em sua esfera deixamos de ser Ivans e Pedros e tornamo-nos gente simples, voltamo-nos para as pessoas e delas nos ocupamos. (Vissarion Bielínski, 1846)
5. As Meninas
by Lygia Fagundes Telles
A memória tem um olfato memorável.
6. Midnight’s Children
by Salman Rushdie
The art is to change the flavour in degree, but not in kind; and above all (in my thirty jars and a jar) to give it shape and form — that is to say, meaning. (I have mentioned my fear of absurdity.)
7. Dora Bruder
by Patrick Mondiano
On vous classe dans des catégories bizarres dont vous n’avez jamais entendu parler et qui ne correspondent pas à ce que vous êtes réellement. On vous convoque. On vous interne. Vous aimeriez bien comprendre pourquoi.
8. Home of the Gentry
by Ivan Turguenev
Victims of misfortune are quick to sense another of their kind from a distance, but in old age they rarely become friends, which is in no way surprising: they have nothing to share together — not even hopes.
9. Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
by Evan Osnos
I sensed that the Chinese people have outpaced the political system that nurtured their rise. The Party has unleashed the greatest expansion of human potential in world history — and spawned, perhaps, the greatest threat to its own survival.
10. Madame Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert
Il y en a de plus belles ; mais, moi, je sais mieux aimer ! Je suis ta servante et ta concubine ! Tu es mon roi, mon idole ! tu es bon ! tu es beau ! tu es intelligent ! tu es fort ! Il s’était tant de fois entendu dire ces choses, qu’elles n’avaient pour lui rien d’original. Emma ressemblait à toutes les maîtresses ; et le charme de la nouveauté, peu à peu tombant comme un vêtement, laissait voir à nu l’éternelle monotonie de la passion, qui a toujours les mêmes formes et le même langage. Il ne distinguait pas, cet homme si plein de pratique, la dissemblance des sentiments sous la parité des expressions. Parce que des lèvres libertines ou vénales lui avaient murmuré des phrases pareilles, il ne croyait que faiblement à la candeur de celles-là ; on en devait rabattre, pensait-il, les discours exagérés cachant les affections médiocres ; comme si la plénitude de l’âme ne débordait pas quelquefois par les métaphores les plus vides, puisque personne, jamais, ne peut donner l’exacte mesure de ses besoins, ni de ses conceptions, ni de ses douleurs, et que la parole humaine est comme un chaudron fêlé où nous battons des mélodies à faire danser les ours, quand on voudrait attendrir les étoiles.
11. The Double
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
As Mr. Golyadkin almost always turned up inappropriately and was thrown into confusion whenever he approached any one about his own little affairs, on this occasion, too, he was desperately embarrassed. Having neglected to get ready his first sentence, which was invariably a stumbling-block for him on such occasions, he muttered something — apparently an apology — and, not knowing what to do next, took a chair and sat down, but, realizing that he had sat down without being asked to do so, he was immediately conscious of his lapse, and made haste to efface his offence against etiquette and good breeding by promptly getting up again from the seat he had taken uninvited. Then, on second thoughts, dimly perceiving that he had committed two stupid blunders at once, he immediately decided to commit a third — that is, tried to right himself, muttered something, smiled, blushed, was overcome with embarrassment, sank into expressive silence, and finally sat down for good and did not get up again.
12. Incidente em Antares
by Erico Verissimo
Curioso: o romancista semianestesiado dentro de mim desperta em Antares. O que me tem impedido até hoje de “cometer” um romance é que, bom e ávido leitor de livros desse gênero, geralmente me achico (como se diz por aqui) diante dos gigantes da ficção e ponho o meu romancista interior de novo a dormir. Humildade ou orgulho às avessas?
13. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness
by Richard Yates
She was tall and well-built, a black-haired Italian girl with a faint shine of sweat on her brow, and as she walked ahead of him toward the dance floor, threading her way between the tables, he reveled in the slow grace of her twisting hips and floating skirt. In his exultant, beerblurred mind he already knew how it would be when he took her home — how she would feel to his exploring hands in the dark privacy of the taxi, and how she would be later, undulant and naked, in some ultimate vague bedroom at the end of the night.
14. The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy
by David Graeber
Defenders of capitalism generally make three broad historical claims: first, that it has fostered rapid scientific and technological development; second, that however much it may throw enormous wealth to a small minority, it does so in such a way that increases overall prosperity for everyone; third, that in doing so, it creates a more secure and democratic world. It is quite clear that in the twenty-first century, capitalism is not doing any of these things. In fact, even its proponents are increasingly retreating from any claim that it is a particular good system, falling back instead on the claim that it is the only possible system — or at least, the only possible system for a complex, technologically sophisticated society such as our own.
15. Moby Dick
by Herman Melville
He’s a queer man, Captain Ahab — so some think — but a good one. Oh, thou’lt like him well enough; no fear, no fear. He’s a grand, ungodly, god-like man, Captain Ahab; doesn’t speak much; but, when he does speak, then you may well listen. Mark ye, be forewarned; Ahab’s above the common; Ahab’s been in colleges, as well as ’mong the cannibals; been used to deeper wonders than the waves; fixed his fiery lance in mightier, stranger foes than whales. His lance! aye, the keenest and surest that out of all our isle!
16. Méditations Métaphysiques
by René Descartes
De sorte qu’après y avoir bien pensé, et avoir soigneusement examiné toutes choses enfin il faut conclure, et tenir pour constant que cette proposition: Je suis, j’existe, est nécessairement vraie, toutes les fois que je la prononce, ou que je la conçois en mon esprit.
17. What About Mozart? What About Murder?: Reasoning From Cases
by Howard S. Becker
When I started to obsess about my visto, the kindly staff of the Ford Foundation told me to stop worrying. Cesar, they said, would take care of it. And who was Cesar? “You don’t have to worry, Cesar is the best despachante in Rio de Janeiro.” What was a despachante? Possible translations into English are “expediter” or “middleman,” the guy who knows how to get impossible things done, how to speed up action on your passport application, how to get your application for a driver’s license approved, how to get a visa for a foreign country — who, in short, knows how to get unresponsive bureaucrats to do what they should do cheerfully and willingly as a matter of course but seldom do. I never understood whether the despachante simply knew how to bribe people who insisted on a bribe to do the job they were already supposed to do, or whether there were further and more complex layers of mutual obligations involved.
by David Cronenberg
That’s why we say that the only authentic literature of the modern era is the owner’s manual.
19. The World of Yesterday
by Stefan Zweig
The sunlight was full and strong. As I walked home, I suddenly saw my own shadow going ahead of me, just as I had seen the shadow of the last war behind this one. That shadow had never left me all this time, it lay over my mind day and night. Perhaps its dark outline also lies over the pages of this book. But in the last resort, every shadow is also the child of light, and only those who have known the light and the dark, have seen war and peace, rise and fall, have truly lived their lives.
by Ivan Goncharov
A close, daily intimacy between two people has to be paid for: it requires a great deal of experience of life, logic, and warmth of heart on both sides to enjoy each other’s good qualities without being irritated by each other’s shortcomings and blaming each other for them.
by Julio Cortázar
En realidad nosotros somos como las comedias cuando uno llega al teatro en el segundo acto. Todo es muy bonito pero no se entiende nada. Los actores hablan y actúan no se sabe por qué, a causa de qué. Proyectamos en ellos nuestra propia ignorancia, y nos parecen unos locos que entran y salen muy decididos.
22. The Queen of Spades and Other Stories
by Alexander Pushkin
Two idées fixes cannot co-exist in the moral world any more than two physical bodies can occupy one and the same space.
by Sándor Márai
One’s life, viewed as a whole, is always the answer to the most important questions. Along the way, does it matter what one says, what words and principles one chooses to justify oneself? At the very end, one’s answers to the questions the world has posed with such relentlessness are to be found in the facts of one’s life. Questions such as: Who are you? . . . What did you actually want? . . . What could you actually achieve? . . . At what points were you loyal or disloyal or brave or a coward? And one answers as best one can, honestly or dishonestly; that’s not so important. What’s important is that finally one answers with one’s life.
24. Empire of Cotton: A Global History
by Sven Beckert
Ellen Hootton was one of these rare exceptions. Unlike millions of others, she entered the historical record when in June 1833 she was called before His Majesty’s Factory Inquiry Commission, which was charged with investigating child labor in British textile mills. Though only ten when she appeared before the committee and frightened, she was already a seasoned worker, a two-year veteran of the cotton mill. Ellen had drawn public attention because a group of middle-class Manchester activists concerned with labor conditions in the factories sprouting in and around their city had sought to use her case to highlight the abuse of children. They asserted that she was a child slave, forced to work not just in metaphorical chains, but in real ones, penalized by a brutal overseer. The commission, determined to show that the girl was a “notorious liar” who could not be trusted, questioned Ellen, her mother, Mary, and her overseer William Swanton, as well as factory manager John Finch. Yet despite their efforts to whitewash the case, the accusations proved to be essentially true: Ellen was the only child of Mary Hootton, a single mother, who was herself a handloom weaver barely able to make a living. Until she turned seven, Ellen had received some child support from her father, also a weaver, but once that expired her mother brought her down to a nearby factory to add to the family’s meager income. After as many as five months of unpaid labor (it was said that she had to learn the trade first), she became one of the many children working at Eccles’ Spinning Mill. When asked about her workday, Ellen said it began at five-thirty in the morning and ended at eight in the evening, with two breaks, one for breakfast and one for lunch. The overseer, Mr. Swanton, explained that Ellen worked in a room with twenty-five others, three adults, the rest children. She was, in her own words, a “piecer at throstles” — a tedious job that entailed repairing and reknotting broken threads as they were pulled onto the bobbin of the mule. With constant breakage, often several times a minute, she only had a few seconds to finish her task. It was all but impossible to keep up with the speed of the machine as it moved back and forth, so she sometimes had “her ends down” — that is, she had not attached the loose and broken ends of the thread fast enough. Such errors were costly. Ellen reported being beaten by Swanton “twice a week” until her “head was sore with his hands.” Swanton denied the frequency of the beatings, but admitted using “a strap” to discipline the girl. Her mother, who called her daughter “a naughty, stupid girl,” testified that she approved of such corporal punishment, and had even asked Swanton to be more severe to put an end to her habit of running away. Life was hard for Mary Hootton, she desperately needed the girl’s wages, and she begged Swanton repeatedly to keep on the girl, despite all the troubles. As Mary said, “I cries many a times.” The beatings, however, were not the worst treatment Ellen experienced at Swanton’s hands. One day, when she arrived late to work, Swanton penalized her even more severely: He hung an iron weight around her neck (there was no agreement about whether it weighed sixteen or twenty pounds) and made her walk up and down the factory floor. The other children heckled her, and as a result, “she fell down several times while fighting with the other hands. She fought them with the stick.” Even today, nearly two hundred years later, the pain of the girl’s life, from the tedium of her work to the violence of her abuse, is hard to fathom. While the city of Manchester sports a Rylands Library, Harvard University a Lowell student dormitory, and while every grade-school student learns about Richard Arkwright and Eli Whitney, there is of course no library or school named for Ellen Hootton. No one but a handful of historians knows anything about her life. Yet when we think about the world of cotton manufacturing, we should think of Ellen Hootton.
25. Leaves of Grass
by Walt Whitman
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body …….. The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work. He shall know that the ground is always ready ploughed and manured….others may not know it but he shall. He shall go directly to the creation. His trust shall master the trust of everything he touches….and shall master all attachment.
26. Livro do Desassossego
by Fernando Pessoa
Viver uma vida desapaixonada e culta, ao relento das ideias, lendo, sonhando, e pensando em escrever, uma vida suficientemente lenta para estar sempre à beira do tédio, bastante meditada para se nunca encontrar nele. Viver essa vida longe das emoções e dos pensamentos, só no pensamento das emoções e na emoção dos pensamentos. Estagnar ao sol, douradamente, como um lago obscuro rodeado de flores. Ter, na sombra, aquela fidalguia da individualidade que consiste em não insistir para nada com a vida. Ser no volteio dos mundos como uma poeira de flores, que um vento incógnito ergue pelo ar da tarde, e o torpor do anoitecer deixa baixar no lugar de acaso, indistinta entre coisas maiores. Ser isto com um conhecimento seguro, nem alegre nem triste, reconhecido ao sol do seu brilho e às estrelas do seu afastamento. Não ser mais, não ter mais, não querer mais… A música do faminto, a canção do cego, a relíquia do viandante incógnito, as passadas no deserto do camelo vazio sem destino…
27. The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol
by Nikolai Gogol
And so, in a certain department there served a certain clerk; a not very remarkable clerk, one might say — short, somewhat pockmarked, somewhat red-haired, even with a somewhat nearsighted look, slightly bald in front, with wrinkles on both cheeks and a complexion that is known as hemorrhoidal …
28. Le Livre du Rire et de l’Oubli
by Milan Kundera
Disons les choses autrement: toute relation amoureuse repose sur des conventions non écrites que ceux qui s’aiment concluent inconsidérément dans les premières semaines de leur amour. Ils sont encore dans une sorte de rêve, mais en même temps, sans le savoir, ils rédigent, en juristes intraitables, les clauses détaillés de leur contrat. Oh! amants, soyez prudents en ces premiers jours dangereux! Si vous portez à l’autre son petit déjeuner au lit, vous devrez le lui porter à jamais si vous ne voulez pas être accusés de non-amour et de trahison.
29. The Sebastopol Sketches
by Leo Tolstoy
How is it that in our time there are only three kinds of people: those who, considering vanity an inevitably existing fact and therefore justifiable, freely submit to it; those who regard it as a sad but unavoidable condition; and those who act unconsciously and slavishly under its influence?
30. La Chute du Ciel: Paroles d’un Chaman Yanomami
by Davi Kopenawa
Cela m’a fait peine. Ces Blancs qui ont créé les marchandises pensent qu’ils sont ingénieux et valeureux. Pourtant, ils sont avares et ne prennent aucun soin de ceux qui, parmi eux, sont dépourvus de tout. Comment peuvent-ils penser être de grands hommes et se trouver aussi intelligents ? Ils ne veulent rien savoir de ces gens misérables qui font pourtant partie des leurs. Ils les rejettent et les laissent souffrir seuls. Ils ne les regardent même pas et se contentent, de loin, de leur attribuer le nom de « pauvres »*. Ils leur enlèvent même leurs mauvaises maisons effondrées. Ils les obligent à rester dehors, sous la pluie, avec leurs enfants. Ils doivent se dire : « Ils habitent notre terre, mais ce sont d’autres gens. Qu’ils vivent loin de nous, en ramassant leur nourriture par terre, comme des chiens ! Quant à nous, nous ferons croître nos biens et nos armes, tout seuls ! » Cela m’a effrayé de voir une chose pareille !
31. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it — namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a treadmill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement.
32. The Limits to Capital
by David Harvey
What Marx demonstrates, convincingly, rigorously and brilliantly, is that if misery, poverty and unemployment are found under capitalism, then they have to be interpreted as the product of this mode of production and not attributed to ‘nature’.
33. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
They went off, and I got aboard the raft, feeling bad and low, because I knowed very well I had done wrong, and I see it warn’t no use for me to try to learn to do right; a body that don’t get started right when he’s little, ain’t got no show — when the pinch comes there ain’t nothing to back him up and keep him to his work, and so he gets beat. Then I thought a minute, and says to myself, hold on, — s’pose you’d a done right and give Jim up; would you felt better than what you do now? No, says I, I’d feel bad — I’d feel just the same way I do now. Well, then, says I, what’s the use you learning to do right, when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same? I was struck. I couldn’t answer that. So I reckoned I wouldn’t bother no more about it, but after this always do whichever come handiest at the time.
34. Le Désert des Tartares
by Dino Buzzati
Le fleuve du temps passait sur le fort, lézardait les murs, charriait de la poussière et des fragments de pierre, limait les marches et les chaînes, mais sur Drogo il passait en vain ; il n’avait pas encore réussi à l’entraîner dans sa fuite.
35. The Magic Mountain
by Thomas Mann
In general it is thought that the interestingness and novelty of the time-content are what “make the time pass”; that is to say, shorten it; whereas monotony and emptiness check and restrain its flow. This is only true with reservations. Vacuity, monotony, have, indeed, the property of lingering out the moment and the hour and of making them tiresome. But they are capable of contracting and dissipating the larger, the very large timeunits, to the point of reducing them to nothing at all. And conversely, a full and interesting content can put wings to the hour and the day; yet it will lend to the general passage of time a weightiness, a breadth and solidity which cause the eventful years to flow far more slowly than those poor, bare, empty ones over which the wind passes and they are gone. Thus what we call tedium is rather an abnormal shortening of the time consequent upon monotony. Great spaces of time passed in unbroken uniformity tend to shrink together in a way to make the heart stop beating for fear; when one day is like all the others, then they are all like one; complete uniformity would make the longest life seem short, and as though it had stolen away from us unawares. Habituation is a falling asleep or fatiguing of the sense of time; which explains why young years pass slowly, while later life flings itself faster and faster upon its course. We are aware that the intercalation of periods of change and novelty is the only means by which we can refresh our sense of time, strengthen, retard, and rejuvenate it, and therewith renew our perception of life itself.
36. La Invención de Morel
by Adolfo Bioy Casares
No esperar de la vida, para no arriesgarla; darse por muerto, para no morir.
37. Cuentos, Fábulas y lo Demás es Silencio
by Augusto Monterroso
Cuando despertó, el dinosaurio todavía estaba allí.
38. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character
by Richard Feynman
When I got to the center, we had to decide when I would give my lectures — in the morning, or afternoon. Lattes said, “The students prefer the afternoon.” “So let’s have them in the afternoon.” “But the beach is nice in the afternoon, so why don’t you give the lectures in the morning, so you can enjoy the beach in the afternoon.” “But you said the students prefer to have them in the afternoon.” “Don’t worry about that. Do what’s most convenient for you! Enjoy the beach in the afternoon.” So I learned how to look at life in a way that’s different from the way it is where I come from. First, they weren’t in the same hurry that I was. And second, if it’s better for you, never mind!
39. A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
40. Chroniques de l’Oiseau à Ressort
by Haruki Murakami
Il fallait trouver quelque chose qui me distingue un peu plus des autres. J’eus beau réfléchir, je ne trouvai rien. Je ne veux pas dire que je n’ai aucune particularité : je suis au chômage, je connais les noms de tous les frères Karamazov.
41. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
by William Blake
The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the hands & feet Proportion.
As the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible.
The crow wish’d every thing was black, the owl, that every thing was white.
Exuberance is Beauty.
42. Zoo or Letters Not About Love
by Viktor Shklovsky
About love, jealousy, the telephone and the phases of love. The letter ends with a remark about the way Russians walk.
I haven’t seen you now for two days.
I call. The telephone squeals; I can tell that I’ve stepped on someone.
I finally reach you. You’re busy in the afternoon, in the evening.
So I write another letter. I love you very much.
You are the city I live in; you are the name of the month and the day.
I float, salty and heavy with tears, barely keeping my head above water.
I seem to be sinking, but even there, underwater — where the phone doesn’t ring and rumors don’t reach, where it’s impossible to meet you — I will go on loving you.
I love you, Alya, yet you force me to hang onto the running board of your life.
My hands are freezing.
I’m not jealous of people: I’m jealous of your time. It is impossible not to see you. So what can I do when there’s no substitute for love?
You know nothing about the weight of things. All men stand equal before you as before the Lord. So what can I possibly do? I love you very much.
At first, I was drawn to you as sleep draws the head of a train passenger toward his neighbor’s shoulder.
Then I was mesmerized by you.
I know your mouth, your lips.
I have wound my whole life around the thought of you. I cannot believe that we have nothing in common; well, then — look in my direction.
I frightened you with my love; at the beginning, when I was still cheerful, you liked me better. That comes from Russia, my dear. We walk with a heavy tread. But in Russia I was strong; here I have begun to weep.
by João Guimarães Rosa
As ancas balançam, e as vagas de dorsos, das vacas e touros, batendo com as caudas, mugindo no meio, na massa embolada, com atritos de couros, estralos de guampas, estrondos e baques, e o berro queixoso do gado junqueira, de chifres imensos, com muita tristeza, saudade dos campos, querência dos pastos de lá do sertão…
“Um boi preto, um boi pintado,
cada um tem sua cor.
Cada coração um jeito
de mostrar o seu amor.”
Boi bem bravo, bate baixo, bota baba, boi berrando… Dança doido, dá de duro, dá de dentro, dá direito… Vai, vem, volta, vem na vara, vai não volta, vai varando…
“Todo passarinho’ do mato
tem seu pio diferente.
Cantiga de amor doido não carece ter rompante…”
by Hermann Hesse
“What is meditative absorption? What is leaving the body? What is fasting? What is holding the breath? These are a flight from the ego, a brief escape from the torment of being an ego, a short-term deadening of the pain and absurdity of life.
45. The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck
The causes lie deep and simply — the causes are a hunger in a stomach, multiplied a million times; a hunger in a single soul, hunger for joy and some security, multiplied a million times; muscles and mind aching to grow, to work, to create, multiplied a million times. The last clear definite function of man — muscles aching to work, minds aching to create beyond the single need — this is man. To build a wall, to build a house, a dam, and in the wall and house and dam to put something of Manself, and to Manself take back something of the wall, the house, the dam; to take hard muscles from the lifting, to take the clear lines and form from conceiving. For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.
46. Um Sopro de Vida
by Clarice Lispector
Eu queria escrever luxuoso. Usar palavras que rebrilhassem molhadas e fossem peregrinas. Às vezes solenes em púrpura, às vezes abismais esmeraldas, às vezes leves na mais fina macia seda rendilhada.
47. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy
by Joseph Alois Schumpeter
Synthesis in general, i.e., coordination of the methods and results of different lines of advance, is a difficult thing which few are competent to tackle. In consequence it is ordinarily not tackled at all and from the students who are taught to see only individual trees we hear discontented clamor for the forest. They fail to realize however that the trouble is in part an embarras de richesse and that the synthetic forest may look uncommonly like an intellectual concentration camp. Synthesis on Marxian lines, i.e., coordination of economic and sociological analysis with a view to bending everything to a single purpose, is of course particularly apt to look like that. The purpose — that histoire raisonnée of capitalist society — is wide enough but the analytic setup is not. There is indeed a grand wedding of political facts and of economic theorems; but they are wedded by force and neither of them can breathe. Marxists claim that their system solves all the great problems that baffle non-Marxian economics; so it does but only by emasculating them.
48. Imperium: a Fiction of the South Seas
by Christian Kracht
This splitting of reality into various components was, however, one of the chief characteristics of the age in which Engelhardt’s story takes place. To wit: modernity had dawned; poets suddenly wrote fragmented lines; grating and atonal music, which to unschooled ears merely sounded horrible, was premiered before audiences who shook their baffled heads, was pressed into records and reproduced, not to mention the invention of the cinematograph, which was able to render our reality exactly as tangible and temporally congruent as it occurred; it was as if it were possible to cut a slice of the present and preserve it in perpetuity between the perforations of a strip of celluloid.
49. Walden & Civil Disobedience
by Henry David Thoreau
I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should do something wrong.
50. The Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
by Chris Monk (editor)
THE MIDDLE MANAGER’S OATH.
I will empower my team to find their own solutions to those problems, which I do not want to deal with myself.
51. Gravity’s Rainbow
by Thomas Pychon
He gets back to the Casino just as big globular raindrops, thick as honey, begin to splat into giant asterisks on the pavement, inviting him to look down at the bottom of the text of the day, where footnotes will explain all. He isn’t about to look. Nobody ever said a day has to be juggled into any kind of sense at day’s end.
52. O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis
by José Saramago
Sobre a nudez forte da verdade o manto diáfano da fantasia, parece clara a sentença, clara, fechada e conclusa, uma criança será capaz de perceber e ir ao exame repetir sem se enganar, mas essa mesma criança perceberia e repetiria com igual convicção um novo dito, Sobre a nudez forte da fantasia o manto diáfano da verdade, e este dito, sim, dá muito mais que pensar, e saborosamente imaginar, sólida e nua a fantasia, diáfana apenas a verdade, se as sentenças viradas do avesso passarem a ser leis, que mundo faremos com elas, milagre é não endoidecerem os homens de cada vez que abrem a boca para falar.
53. Le Père Goriot
by Honoré de Balzac
Moi, je suis heureux de la petite existence que je me créerai en province, où je succéderai tout bêtement à mon père. Les affections de l’homme se satisfont dans le plus petit cercle aussi pleinement que dans une immense circonférence. Napoléon ne dînait pas deux fois, et ne pouvait pas avoir plus de maîtresses qu’en prend un étudiant en médecine quand il est interne aux Capucins. Notre bonheur, mon cher, tiendra toujours entre la plante de nos pieds et notre occiput ; et, qu’il coûte un million par an ou cent louis, la perception intrinsèque en est la même au-dedans de nous.
54. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce
He drew forth a phrase from his treasure and spoke it softly to himself: — A day of dappled seaborne clouds. The phrase and the day and the scene harmonised in a chord. Words. Was it their colours? He allowed them to glow and fade, hue after hue: sunrise gold, the russet and green of apple orchards, azure of waves, the greyfringed fleece of clouds. No, it was not their colours: it was the poise and balance of the period itself. Did he then love the rhythmic rise and fall of words better than their associations of legend and colour? Or was it that, being as weak of sight as he was shy of mind, he drew less pleasure from the reflection of the glowing sensible world through the prism of language many coloured and richly storied than from the contemplation of an inner world of individual emotions mirrored perfectly in a lucid supple periodic prose?
55. Recherches Philosophiques
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
La philosophie est un combat contre l’ensorcellement de notre entendement par les ressources de notre langage.
56. A Paixão Segundo G.H.
by Clarice Lispector
A despersonalização como a destituição do individual inútil — a perda de tudo que se possa perder e ainda assim ser. Pouco a pouco tirar de si com um esforço tão atento que não se sente dor, tirar de si, como quem se livra da própria pele, as características. Tudo que me caracteriza é o modo como sou mais facilmente visível aos outros e como termino sendo superficialmente reconhecida por mim. Assim como o momento que vi que a barata é a barata de todas as baratas, assim quero de mim mesma encontrar em mim a mulher de todas as mulheres.
by Vladimir Nabokov
I do not know if it has ever been noted before that one of the main characteristics of life is discreteness. Unless a film of flesh envelops us, we die. Man exists only insofar as he is separated from his surroundings. The cranium is a space-traveller’s helmet. Stay inside or you perish. Death is divestment, death is communion.
58. El Amor en los Tiempos del Cólera
by Gabriel García Márquez
El tío estaba resentido con él por la manera como malbarató el buen empleo de telegrafista en la Villa de Leyva, pero se dejó llevar por su convicción de que los seres humanos no nacen para siempre el día en que sus madres los alumbran, sino que la vida los obliga otra vez y muchas veces a parirse a sí mismos.
59. Brasil: Uma Biografia
by Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, Heloisa Murgel Starling
É por essa razão que idas e vindas, avanços e recuos, fazem parte dessa nossa história que ambiciona ser mestiça, como de muitas maneiras são os brasileiros: apresenta respostas múltiplas e por vezes ambivalentes sobre o país; não se apoia em datas e ventos selecionados pela tradição; seu traçado não se pretende apenas objetivo ou nitidamente evolutivo, uma vez que carrega um tempo híbrido capaz de agenciar diversas formas de memória. Mas ainda é mestiça porque prevê não só mistura mas clara separação. Numa nação caracterizada pelo poder de grandes proprietários rurais, muitos deles donos de imensos e isolados latifúndios que podiam alcançar o tamanho de uma cidade, autoritarismo e personalismo foram sempre realidades fortes, a enfraquecer o exercício livre do poder público, a desestimular o fortalecimento das instituições e com isso a luta por direitos. Diz o provérbio popular que no Brasil “quem rouba pouco é ladrão e quem rouba muito é barão”…
60. Infinite Jest
by David Foster Wallace
By learning, in palestra, the virtues that pay off directly in competitive games, the well-disciplined boy begins assembling the more abstract, gratification-delaying skills necessary for being a ‘team player’ in a larger arena: the even more subtly diffracted moral chaos of full-service citizenship in a State. Except Schtitt says Ach, but who can imagine this training serving its purpose in an experialist and waste-exporting nation that’s forgotten privation and hardship and the discipline which hardship teaches by requiring? A U.S. of modern A. where the State is not a team or a code, but a sort of sloppy intersection of desires and fears, where the only public consensus a boy must surrender to is the acknowledged primacy of straight-line pursuing this flat and short-sighted idea of personal happiness: ‘The happy pleasure of the person alone, yes?’
61. Mersault, Contre-enquête
by Kael Daoud
Songes-y, c’est l’un des livres les plus lus au monde, mon frère aurait pu être célèbre si ton auteur avait seulement daigné lui attribuer un prénom, H’med ou Kaddour ou Hammou, juste un prénom, bon sang ! M’ma aurait pu avoir une pension de veuve de martyr et moi un frère connu et reconnu au sujet duquel j’aurais pu crâner. Mais non, il ne l’a pas nommé, parce que sinon, mon frère aurait posé un problème de conscience à l’assassin : on ne tue pas un homme facilement quand il a un prénom.
62. The Days of Abandonment
by Elena Ferrante
It’s not easy to go from the happy serenity of a romantic stroll to the chaos, to the incoherence of the world.
63. Voyage au Bout de la Nuit
by Louis-Ferdinand Céline
La grande fatigue de l’existence n’est peut-être en somme que cet énorme mal qu’on se donne pour demeurer vingt ans, quarante ans, davantage, raisonnable, pour ne pas être simplement, profondément soi-même, c’est-à-dire immonde, atroce, absurde. Cauchemar d’avoir à présenter toujours comme un petit idéal universel, surhomme du matin au soir, le sous-homme claudicant qu’on nous a donné.
by Samuel Beckett
Or is there a coming that is not a coming to, a going that is not a going from, a shadow that is not the shadow of purpose, or not? For what is this shadow of the going in which we come, this shadow of the coming in which we go, this shadow of the coming and the going in which we wait, if not the shadow of purpose, of the purpose that budding withers, that withering buds, whose blooming is a budding withering? I speak well, do I not, for a man in my situation? And what is this coming that was not our coming and this being that is not our being and this going that will not be our going but the coming and being and going in purposelessness? And though in purposelessness I may seem now to go, yet I do not, any more than in purposelessness then I came, for I go now with my purpose as with it then I came, the only difference being this, that then it was living and now it is dead, which is what you might call what I think the English call six of one and half a dozen of the other, do they not, might you not?