Elizabeth Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen

Elizabeth
Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen
1899
1973

Anglo-Irish Novelist, Short-Story Writer

Author Quotes

You must show him your monkey: I am sure he will like that.

And then, Hilary Bevel was recounting, it all changed, and we were moving very quickly through a kind of pinkish mist – running, it felt like, only all my legs and arms were somewhere else. That was the time you came into it, Aunt Willoughby. You were winding up your sewing machine like a motor car, kneeling down in a sort of bunching bathing dress… She dared indelicacy, reaching out for the marmalade with a little agitated rustle to break up the silence with which her night’s amazing experiences had been received.

Darling, I don't want you; I've got no place for you; I only want what you give. I don't want the whole of anyone.... What you want is the whole of me-isn't it, isn't it?-and the whole of me isn't there for anybody. In that full sense you want me I don't exist.

I became, and remain, my characters' close and intent watcher: their director, never. Their creator I cannot feel that I was, or am.

Lois entered the mill. Fear heightened her gratification; she welcomed its inrush, letting her look climb the scabby and livid walls to the frightful stare of the sky. Cracks ran down; she expected, now with detachment, to see them widen, to see the walls peel back from a cleft – like the House of Usher’s.

Over the mottled carpet curled strange pink fronds: someone dead now, buying this carpet, had responded to an idea of beauty. Lois thought how in Marda’s bedroom, when she was married, there might be a dark blue carpet with a bloom on it like a grape, and how this room, this hour would be forgotten. Already the room seemed full of the dusk of oblivion. And she hoped that instead of fading to dust in summers of empty sunshine, the carpet would burn with the house in a scarlet night to make one flaming call upon Marda’s memory.

Solitary and farouche people don't have relationships; they are quite unrelatable.

The parrot ambled slowly through the air, with, as it were the jog of a fat pony translated into flight.

To-day the houses seemed taller and farther apart; the street wider and full of bright, clear light that cast no shadows and was never sunshine. Under archways and between the houses the distances had a curious transparency, as though they had been painted upon glass. Against the luminous and indeterminate sky the Abbey tower rose distinct and delicate.

Anna Partridge, whose brain was all shreddy with rabbit-combing and raffia, had had electric light for years, just from living in England; even the Trents talked of harnessing their waterfall.

Down there, between the dreary trunks of the beeches, houses lay like a sediment in the cup of the misty valley: great gabled carcasses, villas aping the manor, belfried garages where you could feel the cars get cold.

I can’t think what Lois can be doing. She peered through gaps in the shrubbery towards towards the gate of the garden. This concern for her friend she put up and twirled like a parasol between them. She sighed: the expansion of her thin little frame, the rise and fall of her two little points of bosom were clearly visible under her white silk jersey. Her panama hat turned down and light tufts of hair came out in fluttering commas against her cheek bones.

Lunch went through with strands of talk spun out fine till they dwindled to thin little patches of silence.

Perplexed, Cecilia lighted a cigarette: indicating a notice the waitress asked her firmly to put it out again. Julian said Indian tea disagreed with him: the waitress said there was no China. Ridiculous! cried Cecilia, and all the mothers turned around. Cecilia, smoldering like a Siamese cat at a show, was glad to find their strawberry punnets left stains on the table-cloth.

Somebody who had come in late had brought him, with an apology, and had whispered an explanation into somebody else’s ear. They had seated him, and he had sat, looking propped-up and a little dejected, like an umbrella that an absent-minded caller had brought into the drawing-room.

The restaurant was waning, indifferently relaxing its illusion: for the late-comers a private illusion took its place. Their table seemed to stand on their own carpet; they had a sensation of custom, sedateness, of being inside small walls, as though dining at home again after her journey. She told him about her Mount Morris solitary suppers, in the middle of the library, the rim of the tray just not touching the base of the lamp... the fire behind her back softly falling in on its own ash-no it had not been possible to feel lonely among those feeling things.

Towards the end of April, a breath from the north blew cold down Milan platforms to meet the returning traveler. Uncertain thoughts of home filled the station restaurant where the English sat lunching uneasily, facing the clock.

Annabelle heard him. Wild with affront, she scrambled heavily to her feet with a cowlike movement and dashed down the naked stairs. ‘Mother, mother’ she wailed. Her mother came out of the library. ‘Oh, mother, John said Damn to me!’

During a strained little silence, between two gusts of wind, Mrs Vermont observed that an angel must be passing over the house; she wanted them to listen for its wings. They listened; they thought of empty country blotted out by the darkness.

I don’t know, said Gilda Roche. The less of me that’s visible, the more I’m there.

Makes of men date, like makes of cars...

Pity the selfishness of lovers: it is brief, a forlorn hope; it is impossible.

Something disturbed her with its insistence, some humming at the back of her mind that was not a mind.

The slight sense of degeneracy induced by reading novels before luncheon

Visitors took form gradually in his household, coming out of a haze of rumor, and seemed but lightly, pleasantly superimposed on the vital pattern till a departure tore great shreds from the season’s texture… There was to be no opportunity for what he must not say to be rather painfully not said.

Author Picture
First Name
Elizabeth
Last Name
Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen
Birth Date
1899
Death Date
1973
Bio

Anglo-Irish Novelist, Short-Story Writer