Passionate and Pensive Quotes by Elizabeth von Arnim

Elizabeth von Arnim

Elizabeth von Arnim (1866 – 1941) produced a wealth of quietly (and sometimes subversively) feminist novels and memoirs. She was best known for The Enchanted April (1922), which many decades later became the 1992 film Enchanted April).

During her lifetime, she usually published under simply “Elizabeth.” She had a wry, dry sense of humor, but also displayed a passion for beauty, especially the beauty of gardens. Here are some passionate and pensive quotes by Elizabeth von Arnim:


“I’m so glad I didn’t die on the various occasions I have earnestly wished I might, for I would have missed a lot of lovely weather.” (from a letter to a friend)

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“Sometimes callers from a distance invade my solitude, and it is on these occasions that I realize how absolutely alone each individual is, and how far away from his neighbour; and while they talk (generally about babies, past, present, and to come), I fall to wondering at the vast and impassable distance that separates one’s own soul from the soul of the person sitting in the next chair.” (Elizabeth and Her German Garden, 1898)

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“Books have their idiosyncrasies as well as people, and will not show me their full beauties unless the place and time in which they are read suits them.”  (The Solitary Summer, 1899)

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“Upon my word,” thought Mrs. Fisher, “the way one pretty face can turn a delightful man into an idiot is past all patience.” (The Enchanted April, 1922)

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“How passionately she longed to be important to somebody again – not important on platforms, not important as an asset in an organisation, but privately important, just to one other person, quite privately, nobody else to know or notice. It didn’t seem much to ask in a world so crowded with people, just to have one of them, only one out of all the millions to oneself. Somebody who needed one, who thought of one, who was eager to come to one – oh, oh how dreadfully one wanted to be precious.”  (The Enchanted April, 1922)

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“I’m sure it’s wrong to go on being good for too long, till one gets miserable. And I can see you’ve been good for years and years, because you look so unhappy.” (The Enchanted April, 1922)

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“If one believed in angels one would feel that they must love us best when we are asleep and cannot hurt each other; and what a mercy it is that once in every twenty-four hours we are too utterly weary to go on being unkind.”  (The Solitary Summer, 1899)

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“Oh, my dear, relations are like drugs — useful sometimes, and even pleasant, if taken in small quantities and seldom, but dreadfully pernicious on the whole, and the truly wise avoid them.”  (Elizabeth and Her German Garden, 1898)

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elizabeth von arnim
See also: 
The Enchanted April (1922) –  a review

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“The passion for being for ever with one’s fellows, and the fear of being left for a few hours alone, is to me wholly incomprehensible. I can entertain myself quite well for weeks together, hardly aware, except for the pervading peace, that I have been alone at all.”   (Elizabeth and Her German Garden, 1898)

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“A garden, I have discovered, is by no means a fruitful topic, and it is amazing how few persons really love theirs — they all pretend they do, but you can hear by the very tone of their voice what a lukewarm affection it is.”  (Elizabeth and Her German Garden, 1898)

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“Beauty made you love, and love made you beautiful.” (The Enchanted April, 1922)

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“I don’t believe there was ever anybody who loved being happy as much as I did. What I mean is that I was so acutely conscious of being happy, so appreciative of it; that I wasn’t ever bored, and was always and continuously grateful for the whole delicious loveliness of the world.”  (In the Mountains, 1920)

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“Submission to what people call their ‘lot’ is simply ignoble. If your lot makes you cry and be wretched, get rid of it and take another.”  (Elizabeth and Her German Garden, 1898)

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“There is nothing so absolutely bracing for the soul as the frequent turning of one’s back on duties.”  (The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rügen, 1904)

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“He had the effect on her of a window being thrown open and fresh air and sunlight being let in” (Vera, 1921)

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“There’s no safety in love. You risk the whole of life. But the great thing is to risk — to believe, and to risk everything for your belief.”  (In the Mountains, 1920)

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“… The way one pretty face can turn a delightful man into an idiot is past all patience.”  (The Enchanted April, 1922)

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“[Walking] is the perfect way of moving if you want to see into the life of things. It is the one way of freedom. If you go to a place on anything but your own feet you are taken there too fast, and miss a thousand delicate joys that were waiting for you by the wayside.”  (The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rügen, 1904)

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The Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim

Elizabeth von Arnim page on Amazon

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“But it is impossible, I find, to tidy books without ending by sitting on the floor in the middle of a great untidiness and reading.” (In the Mountains, 1920)

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“When I got to the library I came to a standstill, – ah, the dear room, what happy times I have spent in it rummaging amongst the books, making plans for my garden, building castles in the air, writing, dreaming, doing nothing.” (Elizabeth and Her German Garden, 1898)

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“I want to be as idle as I can, so that my soul may have time to grow.” (The Solitary Summer, 1899)

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“On wet days I will go into the thickest parts of the forest, where the pine needles are everlastingly dry, and when the sun shines I’ll lie on the heath and see how the broom flares against the clouds. I shall be perpetually happy, because there will be no one to worry me.” (The Solitary Summer, 1899)

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“What a blessing it is to love books. Everybody must love something, and I know of no objects of love that give such substantial and unfailing returns as books and a garden.” (The Solitary Summer, 1899)

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“… Why, it would really be being unselfish to go away and be happy for a little, because we would come back so much nicer.” (The Enchanted April, 1922)

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