Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth” Quotes (24 Quotes)


    The real alchemy consists in being able to turn gold back again into something else; and that's the secret that most of your friends have lost.


    Little as she was addicted to solitude, there had come to be moments when it seemed a welcome escape from the empty noises of her life.

    There is someone I must say goodbye to. Oh, not you - we are sure to see each other again - but the Lily Bart you knew. I have kept her with me all this time, but now we are going to part, and I have brought her back to you - I am going to leave her here. When I go out presently she will not go with me. I shall like to think that she has stayed with you.

    Do you remember what you said to me once? That you could help me only by loving me? Well-you did love me for a moment; and it helped me. It has always helped me.


    Most timidities have such secret compensations and Miss Bart was discerning enough to know that the inner vanity is generally in proportion to the outer self depreciation.

    They belonged to that vast group of human automata who go through life without neglecting to perform a single one of the gestures executed by the surrounding puppets.


    One of the surprises of her unoccupied state was the discovery that time, when it is left to itself and no definite demands are made on it, cannot be trusted to move at any recognized pace


    Selden and Lily stood still, accepting the unreality of the scene as a part of their own dream-like sensations. It would not have surprised them to feel a summer breeze on their faces, or to see the lights among the boughs reduplicated in the arch of a starry sky. The strange solitude about them was no stranger than the sweetness of being alone in it together.

    He knelt by the bed and bent over her, draining their last moment to its lees; and in the silence there passed between them the word which made all clear.

    She felt a stealing sense of fatigue as she walked; the sparkle had died out of her, and the taste of life was stale on her lips. She hardly knew what she had been seeking, or why the failure to find it had so blotted the light from her sky: she was only aware of a vague sense of failure, of an inner isolation deeper than the loneliness about her.

    Her whole being dilated in an atmosphere of luxury. It was the background she required, the only climate she could breathe in.

    She had been bored all afternoon by Percy Gryce... but she could not ignore him on the morrow, she must follow up her success, must submit to more boredom, must be ready with fresh compliances and adaptibilities, and all on the bare chance that he might ultimately decide to do her the honour of boring her for life.



    I was just a screw or cog in the great machine I called life, and when I dropped out of it I found I was of no use anywhere else.

    She herself had grown up without any one spot of earth being dearer than another: there was no center of earth pieties, of grave endearing traditions, to which her heart could revert and from which it could draw strength for itself and tenderness for others.

    It was before him again in its completeness--the choice in which she was content to rest: in the stupid costliness of the food and the showy dulness of the talk, in the freedom of speech which never arrived at wit and the freedom of act which never made for romance.

    She was so evidently the victim of the civilization which had produced her, that the links of her bracelet seemed like manacles chaining her to her fate.

    It was too late for happiness - but not too late to be helped by the thought of what I had missed. That is all I haved lived on - don't take it from me now

    She was very near hating him now; yet the sound of his voice, the way the light fell on his thin, dark hair, the way he sat and moved and wore his clothes-she was conscious that even these trivial things were inwoven with her deepest life.

    Lily had no real intimacy with nature but she had a passion for the appropriate and could be keenly sensitive to a scene which was the fitting background of her own sensations.


    More Edith Wharton Quotations (Based on Topics)


    Life - Time - World - Mind - Light - Money & Wealth - Thought & Thinking - Sense & Perception - Winter - Sadness - Art - Marriage - Faces - Stupidity - Man - Curiosity - Fate & Destiny - Liberty & Freedom - Breathing - View All Edith Wharton Quotations

    More Edith Wharton Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - Ethan Frome
    - The Age of Innocence
    - The House of Mirth

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