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Does anyone know this passage and what it is from?

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Showing 1-25 of 91 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Mar 2010 15:19:13 GMT
P. J. says:
A friend of mine came to me with the following passage, hoping that i would know it. it does seem familar to me but i cannot place it. can anyone help?

There are certain looks, usually quite unintentional - or perhaps subconscious - that grab your attention and shake it fiercely. She sits, quite casually and with a certain elegance, and casts her gaze in your direction. A curious playfulness creeps its way across her visage, filled with both innocence and hunger in one, quick glimmer of her colourful eyes. And when this quick moment has passed, she'll turn with a haunting nonchalance, perhaps causing a lock of cascading brown tresses to brush over an exposed shoulder. But most of all, my friends, most of all, it is the laugh. That tiny giggle, like the tinkling of little bells. A sound that, in her youthful passion, she is not even aware she makes.

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 15:33:46 GMT
Auraya says:
It is certainly ringing a bell and for some reason, The Secret History is popping into my head. I am nowhere near being sure though. Just a feeling.

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 15:37:31 GMT
P. J. says:
thank you for your thoughts. i have never read the secret history but that doesn't mean that it is not the correct answer. has anyone else got any ideas?

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2010 19:19:01 GMT
DS says:
I'm not 100% but Lolita seems like a quite likely source...

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 20:13:50 GMT
VCBF (Val) says:
I don't think it is "Secret History", although I can't tell you the source.

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 20:19:11 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Mar 2010 20:20:27 GMT
P. J. says:
I might be wrong, but i am almost sure that it isn't Lolita (a book i have read many times and know very well).

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 20:26:21 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Mar 2010 20:33:46 GMT
P. J. says:
I should have mentioned previously that the passage i have posted is not necessarily a (word-for-word) copy of the original. My friend presented it to me as she remembered it. For some reason i seem to think it might be from a French novel.

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 21:53:27 GMT
AnetteF says:
Seems familiar to me as well... as if I had read it fairly recently... for some reason, I have a mental picture of two gentleman looking across the room at a female holding court during a ball or soiree type event and one is making a remark of that kind to the other. Possibly by way of a lament that this lady does not even notice him... But as to where I have read it...

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2010 22:01:08 GMT
Isobel Ayres says:
I'm guessing it's been written fairly recently, but with a historical setting. 'Grab', 'casually', the contraction 'she'll', a giggle like tinkling little bells don't suggest an actual historical novel to me.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2010 23:16:27 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Mar 2010 23:24:00 GMT
JW says:
Isobel - your very logical sleuthing has fired my curiosity and had me reaching for my lovely dictionary which has the origins of words and, can you believe...

Grab - origin C16
Casual - origin medieval
Giggle - origin C16
Tinkle - origin medieval
so, don't think anything can be ruled out yet!

This is a good one! I've even run it through on-line plagiarism software but can't find it. I wondered if it could be from The Picture of Dorian Gray, when Dorian is describing Sibyl Vane to Henry and Basil, but can't find it in my copy.
I give up! Hope you find it, P J Walker.

Posted on 12 Mar 2010 23:34:33 GMT
P. J. says:
My friend says that she has spent years trying to find out what the passage is from. So it cannot be very recent. I would like to solve the mystery for her and put her mind at ease and also to buy her the book as, these lines at least, must mean a lot to her for her to have remembered them. (Not enough for her to have remembered the title of the bloomin' book, though). It is the line about the 'tinkling bells' that tickles my memory, but it may be that it is a popular metaphor. Thank you again for the mental effort everyone is exerting in this matter.

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 08:32:04 GMT
in "lucky jim", jim describes margaret's insincere laugh as "the tinkling of tiny bells", but these lins definitely not from that ; maybe amis nicked it from the original. that would suggest that it predates the 1950s.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Mar 2010 09:33:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Mar 2010 09:53:42 GMT
JW says:
P J Walker - does you friend remember anything else at all about the book - was it a romance, murder, any names of the characters, period/country it was set in etc.?

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 10:23:49 GMT
P. J. says:
Strangely, she doesn't remember anything else about it JW, or at least could not the last time i questioned her. I will do so again once she crawls out of bed and has recovered from her friday night hangover. She came to me with it because i read hundreds of books a year and hoped that i would recognise it. I think i do but it is possible that i am mistaken or merely trying to convince myself that i do because i dislike being beaten. I realise that it is a long shot that anyone will be able to place a passage from a book, with no other clues to help them, but having googled various sentences (which i naively thought would immediately provide the answer) with no success, i considered this the best place to ask for help. Of course should anyone come up with the answer i will tell her i have remembered it myself and claim all the glory!

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 10:48:38 GMT
AnetteF says:
How literal is the passage, P.J. Walker? As she does not remember anything else about the book... did she write it down perhaps? I think it would help in ascertaining how far we need to widen the net to catch this fish.

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 12:02:41 GMT
P. J. says:
Annette, as i understand it she wrote it down from memory so i would doubt that it is literally word-for-word identical with the original. However, i will ask her about this, about how confident she is that it is at least very close, when i talk to her later. All i know about it (which seems to be about much as she does!) is what she said when she told me about it, which is that she read it *somewhere* years ago, has never been able to relocate it, but that she has always remembered it and would love to know what it is from.

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 14:52:47 GMT
monica says:
Don't think it was Dorian Grey; Wilde was a much better writer than that. The diction sounds early 20th-century to me. And I'm guessing that 'unconscious' rather than 'subconscious' would have been used any earlier than that.
I'm sure I'm not the only wondering why this passage is important to your friend. (Just the only one so impolite as to say so.)

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 16:38:23 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Mar 2010 18:07:34 GMT
P. J. says:
OK, i can narrow it down a little bit. She says she first read this about five years ago, so obviously it is not from a very recent book. i know that doesn't help a great deal. I agree with you Monica, in that i think it is an attempt to imitate a 'classic' style but is actually not that old. As for your other question it would be impolite of me to divulge that information, but discretion has never been my strong point so i might tell you later.

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 17:27:42 GMT
Fee fee says:
Dorien Gray immediately came to mind for me, but in my head I was seeing a clip from the recent film rather than the book....

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 18:58:41 GMT
monica says:
Possession has portions in which an older style is imitated and Atwood writes in that overworked sort of prose. Wild guesses. And unfair ones--couldn't be bothered to finish the books by Byatt or Atwood I tried.
Indiscretion is an under-rated quality which I value highly.

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 19:57:30 GMT
P. J. says:
So, in order to satisfy Monica's curiosity, and to provide any further possible clues, i have managed to speak to my (i almost want to say source) friend and can now offer a full explanation as to why she is so keen to know what book the passage is from. However, it does differ somewhat from what i have mentioned previously, for which i am claiming that, either a) i wasn't listening when she told me about it the first time, or b) i made too many assumptions or c) she held some information back. Anyway, apparently the passage was posted in an envelope anonymously through her door some years ago (she assumes from an admirer) and has never been able to ascertain who it was from or what it is. The passage was in quotation marks and so she assumes it was a direct copy of the original text (although the copy i have is not this note, which she no longer has, but her recolection of it).

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 20:03:42 GMT
P. J. says:
God, that sounds like the plot of a bad romance novel. If we find out what it is there are probably clues to the sender's identity in there and he and my friend will do doubt end up getting married and having children (one of which will die by falling down a well or something).

Posted on 13 Mar 2010 21:06:48 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Mar 2010 22:42:28 GMT
JW says:
P J Walker - I trust by that you mean your friend or her mystery admirer will fall down the well, and not one of the children! (Not that I wish anyone ill!)
So, let's summarize - it's highly possible that whilst your friend languishes in bed, nursing a hangover, we are all on a wild goose chase, looking for some imaginative ramblings that an ardent admirer of your friend made up, whilst you are plotting their demise! Hmmm!
Maybe it was Markus Zusak during his research for I am the Messenger ;o)

Posted on 14 Mar 2010 00:09:30 GMT
P. J. says:
JW, I did question my friend as to the likelihood that 'the sender' might have actually written the passage and she says that no one she knows, or knew then at any rate, would have been capable of writing something like that (she would have been about 18 at the time and presumably so would her admirer). This is good enough for me, and so I am satisfied that it is a passage from a published work. She has also pledged her undying love for me if i can come up with answer, and whilst i am not in need of any love right now, it is always useful to have some in reserve!

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2010 15:39:28 GMT
AnetteF says:
I can see you have a pretty good incentive for your wild goose chase *g*
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  51
Total posts:  91
Initial post:  12 Mar 2010
Latest post:  11 Feb 2011

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