Monday, December 26, 2011

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

I read Jayber Crow earlier in 2011 and recorded my favorite passages, but nothing more. So in an effort to tie up loose ends, I'll just leave it as it stands and publish it.

"Sometimes I might take off a whole day to go fishing...always taking care to get back before six-thirty. Of course, if I didn't leave until after six-thirty in the evening, I had all night to get back. And since nobody was apt to want a haircut at six-thirty in the morning, I could stay away until the next evening. My clock said I would be back at six-thirty, but it didn't say what day. And sooner or later, until the last time, I always got back." (5)

"My relation to that place, my being in it and my absences from it, is the story of my life. That story has surprised me almost every day--but now, in the year 1986, so near the end, it seems not surprising at all but only a little strange, as if it all has happened to somebody younger." (12)

"There really was nobody else to do it [adopt him after the death of his parents], but she treated me like a prize she had won...I suppose Aunt Cordie and Uncle Othy had a store of affection laid away that they now brought out and applied to me. Later I would know how blessed I had been." (15)

"Back there at the beginning, as I see now, my life was all time and almost no memory. Though I knew early of death, it still seemed to be something that happened only to other people, and I stood in an unending river of time that would go on making the same changes and the same returns forever." (24)

"I'd had the idea, once, that if I could get the chance before I died I would read all the good books there were. Now I began to see that I wasn't apt to make it. This disappointed me, for I really wanted to read them all." (47)

"In most of them I saw the old division of body and soul that I had known at The Good Shepherd [Orphanage]. The same rift ran through everything at Pigeonville College; the only difference was that I was able to see it more clearly, and to wonder at it. Everything bad was laid on the body, and everything good was credited to the soul. It scared me a little when I realized that I saw it the other way around. If the soul and body really were divided, then it seemed to me that all the worst sins--hatred and anger and self-rightousness and even greed and lust--came from the soul. But these preachers...all though that the soul could do no wrong...and yet these same people believed in the resurrection of the body." (49)

"'You have been given questions to which you cannot be given answers. You will have to live them out--perhaps a little at a time.'" (54)

"Now I have had most of the life I am going to have, and I can see what it has been. I can remember those early years when it seemed to me I was cut completely adrift, and times when, looking back at earlier time, it seemed I had been wandering in the dark woods of error. But now it looks to me as though I was following a path that was laid out for me, unbroken, and maybe even as straight as possible, from one end to the other, and I have this feeling, which never leaves me anymore, that I have been led." (66)

"The Good Shepherd and Pigeonville Collee were trying to be the world of the past. The university was trying to be the world of the future, and maybe it has had a good deal to do with the world as it has turned out to be, but this has not been as big an improvement as the university expected. The university thought of itself as a a place of freedom for thought and study and experimentation, and maybe it was, in a way. But it was an island too, a floating or a flying island. It was preparing people from the world of the past for the world of the future, and what was missing was the world of the present, where every body was living its small, short, surprising, miserable, wonderful, blessed, damaged, only life." (70-71)

"Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there...Often I have received better than I have deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led--make of that what you will." (133)

"And so the farm came under the influence of a new pattern, and this was the pattern of a fundamental disagreement such as it had never seen before. It was a disagreement about time and money and the use of the world." (186)

"She had come into her beauty. This was not the beauty of her youth and freshness, of which she had had a plenty. The beauty that I am speaking of now was that of a woman who has come into knowledge and into strength and who, knowing her hardships, trusts her strength and goes about her work even with a kind of happiness, serene somehow, and secure." (191)

"But thinking of Mattie's marriage, I saw too how a marriage, in bringing two people into each other's presence, must include loneliness and error. I imagined a moment when the husband and wife realize that their marriage includes their faults, that they do not perfect each other, and that in making their marriage they also fail it and must carry to the grave things they cannot give away." (194)

"But she loved him, however at odds with him she may have been, for however long. She remembered and kept treasured up her old feeling for him. She treasured up the knowledge that, though she was not happy, happiness existed. And so as Troy's character wore lower and more awry, her own grew straighter and brighter." (342)

1 comment:

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

This is one of my favorite books. What a wonderful intro to WB it was for me! Reading your quotes makes me want to re-read it.