Russell Hoban quotations used in SA4QE

This is a list of quotations from Russell Hoban's books used in the annual SA4QE fan event. Click on the novel title for details of that book, or on the "read more" link for details of who chose the quotation and where they left it.

Jachin-Boaz's footsteps had an early-morning sound. His footsteps, thought Jachin-Boaz, were abroad at all hours. Sometimes he joined them, sometimes not.

     Page one?  I didn't think so.  Suddenly the idea of turning one's experience into a story seemed not only bizarre but perverted; the idea of such a thing as page one seemed at the very least a monstrous vanity.  Where was the beginning of anything, how could I draw a line through endless cause and effrect and say, 'Here is page one' ?  Well of course one was either a storyteller or one wasn't, and it looked as if I wasn't  - all I could do was describe phenomena as I experienced them. 

     THE DUSK VS ME

How do you find? said the dusk.

Guilty, I said.

When one is a child, when one is young, when one has not yet reached the age of recognition, one thinks that the world is strong, that the strength of God is endless and unchanging. But after the thing has happened--whatever that thing might be--that brings recognition, then one knows irrevocably how very fragile is the world, how very, very fragile; it is like one of those ideas that one has in dreams: so clear and so self-explaining are they that we make no special effort to remember. Then of course they vanish as we wake and there is nothing there but the awareness that something very clear has altogether vanished. 

Time's arrow, we are told, is a one-way thing... Memory's arrow, like the needle of a compass too close to a lodestone, spins in all directions.

The studio was two storeys high with a skylight; for a moment we stood in darkness looking up at the sky, then Roswell switched on two banks of fluorescent lights and there leapt into view a crucified crash-dummy. ‘Oh my God,’ I said.  Up there on the cross it looked enormous at first but then I realised it was only life-size.

The cross was leaning against the wall as if the figure had just been nailed to it and raised up to hang there until dead. The figure was of pale wood, unpainted except for the usual black-and-yellow discs, the blood from the wound in its side and those in its hands and feet; there was also a little blood from the shiny chromium crown of thorns on its bald and eyeless head. The figure was more elongated than the dummies I’d seen in photographs and on television; this had an El Greco effect that accentuated the pain not visible on the blankness of the face. The cross was of a rough dark wood that heightened the pale vulnerability of the body. There was no INRI. 

After the first shock a wave of sadness swept over me; my throat ached and my nose tingled and I thought I might cry but I didn’t. This sadness wasn’t from the crash-dummy Christ but from thinking of the poorness of spirit that had led Roswell to spend all those hours carving it. His soul must be absolutely skint, I thought, for him to come up with this. The reduction of Christ to a dummy made to crash into the wall of our sins, the stripping of a complex and haunting idea to a simplistic metaphor, made me so sorry for Roswell that my heart opened to him and I wanted to take him in my arms and rock him like a baby. I realised that I was standing there looking gobsmacked and I tried to find something to say.

Shakespeare didn't invent Caliban; Caliban invented Shakespeare (and Sigmund Freud, and one or two others). Caliban is one of those hungry ideas, always looking for someone to word him into being so he can have another go and maybe win Miranda this time or next time. Caliban is a necessary idea. I can imagine The Tempest without Ferdinand but not without Caliban. 

On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen. He dint make the groun shake nor nothing like that when he come on to my spear he wernt all that big plus he lookit poorly. He done the reqwyrt he ternt and stood and clattert his teef and made his rush and there we wer then. Him on 1 end of the spear kicking his life out and me on the other end watching him dy. I said, 'Your tern now my tern later.' The other spears gone in then and he wer dead and the steam coming up off him in the rain and we all yelt, 'Offert!'

An ordinary mirror is silvered at the back but the window of a night train has darkness behind the glass. My face and the faces of the other travellers were now mirrored on this darkness in a succession of stillnesses. Consider this, said the darkness: any motion at any speed is a succession of stillnesses; any section through an action will show just such a plane of stillness as this dark window in which your seeking face is mirrored. And in each plane of stillness is the moment of clarity that makes you responsible for what you do.
Consider this, said the train wheels, repeating the message tirelessly moment after moment on the miles of cold iron that lay shining in the dark that led to Harwich and repeating face on face the faces reflected in the windows.

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