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.

"He was delighted to find that he did not love Gretel for any reason that he might have thought good in the past. Not for intelligence or accomplishments. Not for anything that she did. He loved her simply because she was. What a thing, thought Jachin-Boaz. Love without a purpose."

'For years I have signed and measured and located this point and that point on the face of the earth,' said the surveyor, 'and I have gone back to the same places to find my stakes pulled out as boundaries waver and lose accuracy. I sight and I measure and I plant the stakes again, knowing that they will be pulled out again. It is not only stakes and boundaries that are lost - this is what there is to know about maps, and I tell you what I have paid years to learn: everything that is found is always lost again, and nothing that is found is ever lost again. Can you understand that? You're still a boy, so maybe you can't. Can you understand that?'

"Jachin-Boaz traded in maps. He bought and sold maps, and some, of certain kinds for special uses, he made or had others make for him. That had been his father's trade, and the walls of his shop that had been his father's were hung with glazed blue oceans, green swamps and grasslands, brown and orange mountains delicately shaded. Maps of towns and plains he sold, and other maps made to order. He would sell a young man a map that showed where a particular girl might be found at different hours of the day. He sold husband maps and wife maps. He sold maps to poets that showed where thoughts of power and clarity had come to other poets. He sold well-digging maps. He sold vision-and-miracle maps to holy men, sickness-and-accident maps to physicians, money-and-jewel maps to thieves, and thief maps to the police."

Oh no, thought Kleinzeit when he saw Sister, this is too much. Even if I were well, which I'm probably not, even if I were young, which I no longer am, this is far too massive a challenge and it would be better not to respond to it. Even at arm-wrestling she could destroy me, how do I dare consider her thighs? He considered her thighs and felt panic rising in him. Offstage the pain was heard, like the distant horn in the Beethoven overture. Am I possibly a hero, Kleinzeit wondered, and poured himself a glass of orange squash.

Sister fingered his chart, noticed Thucydides and Ortega on the bedside locker. 'Good morning, Mr Kleinzeit,' she said. 'How are you today?'

Kleinzeit was glad he was wearing adventurous pyjamas, glad Thucydides and Ortega were there. 'Very well, thank you,' he said. 'How are you?'

'Fine, thank you,' said Sister. 'Kleinzeit, does that mean something in German?'

'Hero,' said Kleinzeit.

'I thought it must mean something,' said Sister. Maybe you, said her eyes.

Good heavens, thought Kleinzeit, and I'm unemployed too.

'Alone and blind and endlessly voyaging I think constantly of fidelity. Fidelity is a matter of perception; nobody is unfaithful to the sea or to mountains or to death: once recognized they fill the heart. In love or in terror or in loathing one responds to them with the true self; fidelity is not an act of the will: the soul is compelled by recognitions. Anyone who loves, anyone who perceives the other person fully can only be faithful, can never be unfaithful to the sea and the mountains and the death in that person, so pitiful and heroic is it to be a human being.'

'Do you think about fidelity sometimes?' said the head [of Orpheus].
'Sometimes.' Years after Luise had gone I found inside a copy of Rilke's Neue Gedichte her recipe for bread; I'd never seen her use a written-down recipe but there it was in her writing on a folded-up feint-ruled notebook page marking 'Orpheus, Eurydike, Hermes':

1.5 kg granary flour
2 dessertsp oil
1      "   salt
1 tblesp caraway seeds
2      "  dried yeast
1½ pts water, bloodwarm
1 teasp sugar

Put flour in a bowl, add oil & caraway seeds. Put sugar & yeast in a jug, add a little of the warm water. Leave for 10-15 mins in a warm place to froth, add salt to warm water. When yeast dissolved, add to the flour and water. Stir, then turn on to a floured board & knead 10-15 mins until it is elastic. Put back in bowl, cover, leave to rise in warm place. When doubled in size, take out, divide into 2, knead & thump, shape into loaves and put in greased tins. Cover, leave for 10 mins in a warm place, then put in oven & bake at 220º for 40-5 mins.

The smell of the brown loaves was like fidelity.

Dr Jim Long was born in Pennsylvania, and sometimes when his mind is pedalling in busy circles he recalls a thing from his youth. He recalls a drink of water from a mountain spring in the Appalachians. He was hot and sweaty and tired when he came upon a stone trough with water flowing into it from an iron pipe. Cold sparkling mountain water filling the trough from an iron pipe that was beaded with droplets of condensation. There were leaves and sand and tiny crayfish in the bottom of the trough. He plunged his face into the water and drank the best drink he would ever have in his life. The leaves of the trees were stirring in the summer breeze. Everything was more than itself.


"Here's to you Cyd. We'll stay danced with."

“If we'd been edible we'd never have lasted this long.” 

"All roads, whether long or short, are hard," said Frog. "Come, you have begun your journey, and all else necessarily follows from that act. Be of good cheer. The sun is bright. The sky is blue. The world lies before you."


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