But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.

Swann’s Way / Marcel Proust

All I ask of life, he says, is a bunch of books, a bunch of dreams, and a bunch of cunt.

Tropic of Cancer / Henry Miller

I want to be able to surrender myself to a woman. I want her to take me out of myself. But to do that, she’s got to be better than I am; she’s got to have a mind, not just a cunt. She’s got to make me believe that I need her, that I can’t live without her. Find me a cunt like that, will you? If you could do that I’d give you my job. I wouldn’t care then what happened to me: I wouldn’t need a job or friends or books or anything. If she could only make me believe that there was something more important on earth than myself.

Tropic of Cancer / Henry Miller

and I looked and looked at her, and knew as clearly as I know I am to die, that I loved her more than anything I had ever seen or imagined on earth, or hoped for anywhere else. She was only the faint violet whiff and dead leaf echo of the nymphet I had rolled myself upon with such cries in the past; an echo on the brink of a russet ravine, with a far wood under a white sky, and brown leaves choking the brook, and one last cricket in the crisp weeds… but thank God it was not that echo alone that I worshipped. What I used to pamper among the tangled vines of my heart, mon grand pch radieux, had dwindled to its essence: sterile and selfish vice, all that I cancelled and cursed. You may jeer at me, and threaten to clear the court, but until I am gagged and halfthrottled, I will shout my poor truth. I insist the world know how much I loved my Lolita, this Lolita, pale and polluted, and big with another’s child, but still gray-eyed, still sooty-lashed, still auburn and almond, still Carmencita, still mine; Changeons de vie, ma Carmen, allons vivre quelque, part o nous ne serons jamais spars; Ohio? The wilds of Massachusetts? No matter, even if those eyes of hers would fade to myopic fish, and her nipples swell and crack, and her lovely young velvety delicate delta be tainted and torneven then I would go mad with tenderness at the mere sight of your dear wan face, at the mere sound of your raucous young voice, my Lolita.

Lolita / Vladimir Nabokov  

that frail and precious kiss which Mamma used always to leave upon my lips when I was in bed and just going to sleep I had to take with me from the dining-room to my own, and to keep inviolate all the time that it took me to undress, without letting its sweet charm be broken, without letting its volatile essence diffuse itself and evaporate; and just on those very evenings when I must needs take most pains to receive it with due formality, I had to snatch it, to seize it instantly and in public, without even having the time or being properly free to apply to what I was doing…

Swann’s Way / Marcel Proust

Wings were given you so as to fly beyond the clouds, and to me, a woman, so as to press myself to the ground and shield my fledgling from danger.

Doctor Zhivago / Boris Pasternak

Often, later in life, I tried to define and name that light of enchantment that you poured into me then, that gradually dimming ray and fading sound that suffused my whole existence ever after and became, owing to you, the key for perceiving everything else in the world. When you, a shadow in a schoolgirl’s uniform, stepped out of the darkness of the hotel room’s depths, I, a boy who knew nothing about you, understood with all the torment of a force that answered yours: this slight, skinny girl is charged to the utmost, as with electricity, with all conceivable femininity in the world. If you go near her or touch her with your finger, a spark will light up the room and either kill you on the spot or electrify you for your whole life with a magnetically attractive, plaintive craving and sorrow. I was all filled with wandering tears, all my insides glittered and wept. I felt a mortal pity for the boy I was, and still more pity for the girl you were. My whole being was astonished and asked: If it’s so painful to love and absorb electricity, how much more painful it is to be a woman, to be the electricity, to inspire love.

Doctor Zhivago / Boris Pasternak