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The Child in Time

Ian McEwan

Top 10 Best Quotes

“For children, childhood is timeless. It is always the present. Everything is in the present tense. Of course, they have memories. Of course, time shifts a little for them and Christmas comes round in the end. But they don’t feel it. Today is what they feel, and when they say ‘When I grow up,’ there is always an edge of disbelief—how could they ever be other than what they are?”

“Only when you are grown up, perhaps only when you have children yourself, do you fully understand that your own parents had a full and intricate existence before you were born.”

“He closed his eyes. This bed was a wedding gift from friends he had not seen in years. He tried to remember their names, but they were gone. In it, or on it, his marriage had begun and, six years later, ended. He recognized a musical creak when he moved his legs, he smelled Julie on the sheets and banked-up pillows, her perfume and the close, soapy essence that characterized her newly washed linen. Here he had taken part in the longest, most revealing, and, later, most desolate conversations of his life. He had had the best sex ever here, and the worst wakeful nights. He had done more reading here than in any other single place - he remembered Anna Karenina and Daniel Deronda in one week of illness. He had never lost his temper so thoroughly anywhere else, nor had been so tender, protective, comforting, nor, since early childhood, been so cared for himself. Here his daughter had been conceived and born. On this side of the bed. Deep in the mattress were the traces of pee from her early-morning visits. She used to climb between then, sleep a little, then wake them with her chatter, her insistence on the day beginning. As they clung to their last fragments of dreams, she demanded the impossible: stories, poems, songs, invented catechisms, physical combat, tickling. Nearly all evidence of her existence, apart from photographs, they had destroyed or given away. All the worst and the best things that had ever happened to him had happened here. This was where he belonged. Beyond all immediate considerations, like the fact that his marriage was more or less finished, there was his right to lie here now in the marriage bed.”

“...children are at heart selfish, and reasonably so, for they are programmed for survival.”

“…the way people understood things had a lot to do with the way people were, how they had been shaped, what the wanted; tricks of rhetoric would not shift them.”

“Past a certain age, men froze into place; they tended to believe that, even in adversity, they were somehow at one with their fates. They were who they thought they were.”

“year-old girl. It was more than a habit, for a habit could be broken. This was a deep disposition, the outline experience had stencilled on character. It was not”

“They had been married six years, a time of slow, fine adjustments to the jostling principles of physical pleasure, domestic duty, and the necessity of solitude. Neglect of one led to diminishment or chaos in the others.”

“Stephen thought that if he could do everything with the intensity and abandonment with which he had once helped Kate build her castle, he would be a happy man of extraordinary powers.”

“Now that Stephen had joined the throng he expected, with so much reading and talking and listening behind him, to be an expert, like everybody else. But it was as if he were trying to write afresh a book that had already been written. The ground was so well prepared, planted up with myth and cliché, and the tradition so firmly established, that he could no more think clearly about his own situation than a medieval painter could, by taking thought, invent perspective.”

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Book Keywords:

best-times, survival, marriage-bed, childhood, time, selfishness, words, bed, parents, child, innocence, worst-times, children, time-passing, growing-up, understanding, nostalgia, age, background

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