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The Spiral House

Claire Robertson

Top 10 Best Quotes

“These women who move through this landscape, holding themselves safe amid the terrible and sudden dangers, holding their limbs close to their bodies to lessen their profile, to lessen the places life can catch at them, and still maintaining movement, and still attending to men even when they elect to live a life apart from them, we can rely, he thinks, on having these women among us, rely on their courage to keep us brave.”

“There is no ‘what if’. Only in stories.”

“Ours was the age of enlightenment, he said, when the battle cry was, ‘We must know, we shall know!’, and reason would depose superstition and we be liberated by it.”

“I had come by then to be conscious of this aspect of slave lives: at one and the same time the masters held contrary beliefs about those they bought into their homes, viz., It did not matter what a slave saw and so behaviour that the masters would be ashamed to even have rumoured about them was carried forward unchecked in front of their slaves; and at the same time they protested: how dare you, a slave, look at us as we do thus or thus?”

“I do not like to think too much on this Africa. It is too large and too empty,” he said. “People like De Buys, they astonish me with their courage – or perhaps it is a lack in them; they cannot imagine. I think that is one way to be not afraid: in a covered wagon looking at the piece of the horizon your mind can hold, and do not suffer thoughts about endless lands and unknowable things.”

“He leaned into Le Voir’s face with the calliper and breathed on him, holding forth on this new science of which calibration was the test; these measurements would describe classes of being and we who had provided the parameters would be fit within them. To hear him tell it, this classification of species was the hope of Man.”

“He has entertained the thought that his neighbours like having one of him in the district, having their own Englishman, although he will insist that he is as South African as they are. But perhaps his presence is more in the nature of a provocation, and his actions: he pretends ignorance but he knows what those spindly pink and white flowers mean to men who still punish themselves with every detail of their war, picking at it like the scab of the miniature Union Jack in the middle of the flag.”

“Flay us all and have done with skin, I thought.”

“As you know, a head is a deal heavier than it looks. That is one reason you do not want to drop it anywhere near your feet.”

“Admit only your victories until you have hooked their interest, then you draw them closer and admit the sort of failings that reflect well on a fellow, sentimental failings: that was the theory of courtship the young master had formulated...”

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Book Keywords:

man, superstition, caliper, africa, war, age, courtship, liberated, theory, lives, south-africa, classes, skin, stories, colonialism, classification, great-trek, women, slave, reason, enlightenment, head, science

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