What does this sudden awakening mean, in this dark room, with the sounds of a city that has suddenly become strange? And everything is strange to me, everything, without a single person who belongs to me, with no place to heal this wound. What am I doing here, what is the point of these smiles and gestures? I am not from here—not from anywhere else either. And the world has become merely an unknown landscape where my heart can lean on nothing.
“Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.”
― Fernando Pessoa,
“Antoni Arissa Untitled 1930-1936 ”
“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”
― Mortimer J. Adler
image: Lin Kristensen acquired from Wikimedia Commons
But sometimes illumination comes to our rescue at the very moment when all seems lost; we have knocked at every door and they open on nothing until, at last, we stumble unconsciously against the only one through which we can enter the kingdom we have sought in vain a hundred years – and it opens.
~ Marcel Proust
image – Rockwell Kent
“Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence.” – Pythagoras
“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.” – Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”- Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
“My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.”- Edith Sitwell
“Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it. – Amir” – Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
“For now she need not think of anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of – to think; well not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others… and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.” – Virginia Woolf – To the Lighthouse
“I need to be alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company.” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
“In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.” – Rumi
“I don’t think…” then you shouldn’t talk, said the Hatter.”- Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.” – William S. Burroughs
“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.” – George Eliot
“It is always assumed by the empty-headed, who chatter about themselves for want of something better, that people who do not discuss their affairs openly must have something to hide.” – Honore de Balzac, Pere Goriot
“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.” – Elbert Hubbard
“If there were a little more silence, if we all kept quiet…maybe we could understand something.” – Federico Fellini
“Donkey-Skin” Illustration by Harry Clarke
“It was with difficulty that he withdrew from this gloomy little alley, intent on discovering who the inmate of the tiny room might be. He was told that it was a scullion called Donkey-skin because of the skin which she always wore, and that she was so dirty and unpleasant that no one took any notice of her, or even spoke to her; she had just been taken out of pity to look after the geese.”
“Curiosity made him put his eye to the keyhole”
Donkey Skin (French: Peau d’Âne) is a French literary fairytale written in verse by Charles Perrault. It was first published in 1695 in a small volume and republished in 1697 in Perrault’s Histoires ou contes du temps passé
It’s an unsettling tale of a King who wanted to marry his daughter, after his wife’s death>
“A king had a beautiful wife and a rich castle, including a marvelous donkey whose droppings were gold. One day his wife died, after making him promise not to marry except to a woman whose beauty and attributes equaled hers. The king grieved, but was, in time, persuaded to seek another wife. It became clear that the only woman who would fit the promise was his daughter.
She went to her fairy godmother who advised her to make impossible demands as a condition of her consent: a dress as bright as the sun, a dress the colour of the moon, a dress all the colours of the sky, and finally, the hide of his marvelous donkey (which produced gold, and thus was the source of his kingdom’s wealth). Such was the king’s desire to marry her that he granted all of them. The fairy godmother gave her a marvelous chest to contain all she owned and told her that the donkeyskin would make an excellent disguise.
The princess fled and eventually found a royal farm where they let her work in the kitchen, despite her ugliness in the donkeyskin. On feast days, she would dress herself in the fine gowns her father had given her, and one such day, the prince came by her room and peeped through the keyhole. He fell in love at once, fell ill with his longing, and declared that nothing would cure him but a cake baked by Donkeyskin, and nothing they could say of what a dirty creature she was dissuaded him.
When Donkeyskin baked the cake, a ring of hers fell in it. The prince found it and declared that he would marry only the woman whose finger it fit. Every other woman having failed, he insisted that Donkeyskin try, and it fit. When she had dressed herself in her fine gowns, his parents were reconciled with the match. Donkeyskin later found that her father had remarried to a beautiful widow and everyone lived happily ever after.
It was also a 1970 French musical film directed by Jacques Demy. It is also known by the English titles Once Upon a Time and The Magic Donkey. It stars Catherine Deneuve and Jean Marais, with music by Michel Legrand. Donkey Skin also proved to be Demy’s biggest success in France.
For the full Perrault story, and the rest of his fairy tales, read them online or download here: