There’s a beauty, a truly conjugal beauty, in having this sleeves-up, pants-down labor marry – that is, verify – the insights of a blackboard to a cocoa plantation on Principe Island off West Equatorial Africa, to observe if there was a ‘curvature of space’ around the solar eclipse of May 29, 1919, finally proving the runic equations of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

  • From Combinations of the Universe, by Albert Goldbarth



…I imagine that when the artist stood back and looked at the finished drawing, that the artist felt the same way artists always feel at that moment: joy and disappointment. It’s good, but it isn’t as good as the thing we meant to make. The thing we cannot quite achieve leads us to make the next thing, and the thing after that. We make things to find out what they are, what they can be, and what they might mean. We make things to keep us company in the world. We make things to show them to other people, because we want them to understand.

  • From Bizarre Romance, by Audrey Niffennegger

He felt what a murderer must feel when looking at the body he has deprived of life. The body he had deprived of life was their love, the first period of their love. There was something frightful and revolting in the recollection of what had been paid for with this terrible price of shame. The shame she felt at her spiritual nakedness communicated itself to him. But in spite of the murderer’s horror of the body of his victim, that body must be cut in pieces and hidden away, and he must make use of what he has obtained by the murder.

  • From Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

It evoked both in Vronsky and in Anna a feeling such as a sailor might have who saw by the compass that the direction in which he was swiftly sailing diverged widely from the right course but was quite unable to stop, and felt that every moment was taking him farther and farther astray, and that to acknowledge to himself that he was diverging from the right direction was tantamount to acknowledging that he was lost.

  • From Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

When he had got used to the dim light of the box, Vronsky again instinctively took in at one comprehensive glance all the points of his favourite mare. Frou-Frou was of medium size and by no means free from blemish. She was slenderly built. Her chest, though well arched, was narrow. Her hindquarters tapered rather too much, and her legs, especially her hind legs, were perceptibly bowed inwards. Neither fore nor hind legs were particularly muscular, but on the other hand she was extremely broad in the girth, now that she was lean from her strict training. Seen from the front, her canon bones were very fine and sharp, but unusually wide seen sideways. She appeared all the more narrow in build because so deep in the breadth. But she possessed in the highest degree a characteristic which made one forget all her defects. This was her thoroughbred quality—the kind of blood that tells, as they say in English. The muscles, clearly marked beneath the network of sinews, stretched in the fine, mobile skin, which was smooth as satin, seemed hard as bone. Her lean head with the prominent, bright, sparkling eyes, broadened out to her muzzle with its wide crimson nostrils. Her whole appearance, more especially about the head, was spirited yet gentle. She was one of those creatures who seem as if they would certainly speak if only the mechanical construction of their mouths allowed them to.

  • From Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

And suddenly both felt that though they were friends, and had dined and drunk wine together which should have drawn them yet closer, yet each was thinking only of his own affairs and was not concerned with the other.

  • From Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

She felt that it was impossible for her to leave; but still deceiving herself, she went on sorting the things and pretending that she really would go. On seeing her husband she thrust her arms into a drawer of the wardrobe as if looking for something, and only when he had come close to her did she turn her face toward him. But her face, which she wanted to seem stern and determined, expressed only perplexity and suffering.

  • From Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy