Duly Quoted

"A library is a hospital for the mind."

“Tell him yes,” she said. “Even if you are dying of fear, even if you are sorry later, because whatever you do, you will be sorry all the rest of your life if you say no.

Book: Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gorgeous! And heartbreaking. Really heartbreaking. Brutally romantic. The whole tragically inconvenient/forbidden/unfortunate love thing. And love as an illness thing (shoutout to Lucretius!). The timeless passion vs. convenience conflict. Reminded me of Unbearable Lightness of Being, though it bothered me less. Still really…heartbreaking. BUT GORGEOUS.

bold=like
bold italics=like SO MUCH

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There still remained for the one who could identify it the dying embers of hapless love in the bitter almonds. Dr. Juvenal Urbino had often thought, with no premonitory intention, that this would not be a propitious place for dying in a state of grace. But in time he came to suppose that perhaps its disorder obeyed an obscure determination of Divine Providence.

“There is bound to be someone driven mad by love who will give you the chance one of these days.” And only after he said it did he realize that among the countless suicides he could remember, this was the first with cyanide that had not been caused by the sufferings of love. Then something changed in the tone of his voice. “And when you do find one, observe with care,” he said to the intern: “They almost always have crystals in their heart.”

A man should have two wives: one to love and one to sew on his buttons.

Neither could have said if their mutual dependence was based on love or convenience, but they had never asked the question with their hand on their hearts because both had always preferred not to know the answer.

The truth was they both played a game, mythical and perverse, but for all that comforting: it was one of the many dangerous pleasures of domestic love.


What he had seen that day, however, was the physical presence of something that until that moment had been only an imagined certainty.

He would not go without knowing how much she had loved him despite their doubts, and she felt an irresistible longing to begin life with him over again so that they could say what they had left unsaid and do everything right that they had done badly in the past. But she had to give in to the intransigence of death. Her grief exploded into a blind rage against the world, even against herself, and that is what filled her with the control and the courage to face her solitude alone. From that time on she had no peace, but she was careful about any gesture that might seem to betray her grief.

He did not have to keep a running tally, drawing a line for every day on the walls of a cell, because not a day had passed that something did not happen to remind him of her.

Little by little he idealized her, endowing her with improbably virtues and imaginary sentiments, and after two weeks he thought of nothing else but her.

For despite her austere conduct and penitential habit, Aunt Ascolastica had an instinct for life and a vocation for complicity, which were her greatest virtues.

But his examination revealed that he had no fever, no pain anywhere, and that his only concrete feeling was an urgent desire to die. All that was needed was shrewd questioning, first of the patient and then of his mother, to conclude once again that the symptoms of love were the same as those of cholera.

“Take advantage of it now, while you are young, and suffer all you can,” she told him, “because these things don’t last your whole life.”

She reminded him that the weak would never enter the kingdom of love, which is a harsh and ungenerous kingdom, and that women give themselves only to men of resolute spirit, who provide the security they need in order to face life…She realized that he could hardly breathe with fear, but his determination was invincible.

It was the year they fell into devastating love. Neither one could do anything except think about the other, dream about the other, and wait for letters with the same impatience they felt when they answered them.

The truth is that she had always taken the comings and goings of the camellia as a lovers’ game, and it had never occurred to her to consider it as a crossroads in her destiny.

“Tell him yes,” she said. “Even if you are dying of fear, even if you are sorry later, because whatever you do, you will be sorry all the rest of your life if you say no.”

One night she came back from her daily walk stunned by the revelation that one could be happy not only without love, but despite it.


To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.

He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.

He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good., and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.

When she awoke she opened the letter. It was brief and proper…She was impressed by its simplicity and seriousness, and the rage she had cultivated with so much love for so many days faded away on the spot.

He is ugly and sad … but he is all love.

Life was imposed on her from the outside.

A man knows when he is growing old because he begins to look like his father.

With her Florentino Ariza learned what he had already experienced many times without realizing it: that one can be in love with several people at the same time, feel the same sorrow with each, and not betray any of them. Alone in the midst of the crowd on the pier, he said to himself in a flash of anger: ‘My heart has more rooms than a whorehouse.’

She always felt as if her life had been lent to her by her husband: she was absolute monarch of a vast empire of happiness, which had been built by him and for him alone. She knew that he loved her above all else, more than anyone else in the world, but only for his own sake: she was in his holy service.

No, not rich. I am a poor man with money, which is not the same thing.

He repeated until his dying day that there was no one with more common sense, no stonecutter more obstinate, no manager more lucid or dangerous, than a poet.

She discovered with great delight that one does not love one’s children just because they are one’s children but because of the friendship formed while raising them.

The problem with marriage is that it ends every night after making love, and it must be rebuilt every morning before breakfast.

Humanity, like armies in the field, advances at the speed of the slowest.

Wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good.

The only regret I will have in dying is if it is not for love.

It was a meditation on life, love, old age, death: ideas that had often fluttered around her head like nocturnal birds but dissolved into a trickle of feathers when she tried to catch hold of them.


Together they had overcome the daily incomprehension, the instantaneous hatred, the reciprocal nastiness, and fabulous flashes of glory in the conjugal conspiracy. It was time when they both loved each other best, without hurry or excess, when both were most conscious of and grateful for their incredible victories over adversity. Life would still present them with other moral trials, of course, but that no longer mattered: they were on the other shore.

He looked at Florentino Ariza, his invincible power, his intrepid love, and he was overwhelmed by the belated suspicion that it is life, more than death, that has no limits.
“And how long do you think we can keep up this goddamn coming and going?” he asked.
Florentino Ariza had kept his answer read for fifty-three years, seven months, and eleven days and nights.
“Forever,” he said.

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Filed under: Gabriel Garcia Marquez,

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