The Dark Flower

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C. Scribner's sons, 1913 - English fiction - 316 pages
Covering almost 30 years in the life and loves of Mark Lennan, The Dark Flower opens in 1880 with 18-year-old undergraduate Mark studying art at Oxford, and ends 30 years later with Mark ostensibly happily married, yet torn between his wife and a beautiful teenage girl--the last and most disturbing manifestation of the "dark flower" of passion. Within a dozen pages, Galsworthy establishes his mastery of compelling narrative and sketches an irresistible plot. Much of his achievement lies in the mixture of pathos and humor that he derives from characters little able to express their feelings. There is much else to admire, from Galsworthy's impressionistic descriptions and eye for detail to the subtle symmetry he creates between his characters, emphasizing the cyclical nature of the story. Published in 1913, the story also holds the fascination of a world about to be transformed by war--one in which a love letter could still be delivered by the hand of a discreet manservant, and the residents of Piccadilly kept their horses stabled close by so that they could gallop down to Richmond for fresh air.
 

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Page 156 - But he put her hand away, and turning his face, stared out of the window. And so they reached their home. When he had left her alone, she remained where she was standing, by her wardrobe, without sound or movement, thinking : ' What am I going to do ? How am I going to live...
Page 212 - The moon would not rise till ten! And all things waited. The creatures of night were slow to come forth after that long bright summer's day, watching for the shades of the trees to sink deeper and deeper into the now chalk-white water; watching for the chalk-white face of the sky to be masked with velvet. The very black-plumed trees themselves seemed to wait in suspense for the grapebloom of night. All things stared, wan in that hour of passing day—all things had eyes wistful and unblessed.
Page 315 - M. LENNAN." That, then, was all — yes, all! He turned out the little lamp, and groped towards the hearth. But one thing left. To say good-bye! To her, and Youth, and Passion! — to the only salve for the aching that Spring and Beauty bring — the aching for the wild, the passionate, the new, that never quite dies in a man's heart.
Page 210 - All wind had failed, and the day was fallen into a wonderful still evening. Gnats were dancing in the sparse strips of sunlight that slanted across the dark water, now that the sun was low. From the fields, bereft of workers, came the scent of hay and the heavy scent of meadow-sweet; the musky odour of the backwater was confused with them into one brooding perfume. No one passed. And sounds were few and far to that wistful listener, for birds did not sing just there. How still and warm was the air,...
Page 261 - It came out without hesitancy or shame, and he could only murmur: "Ah! you've missed your drawing!" "Yes. Can I come to-morrow?" That was the moment to have said: No! You are a foolish child, and I an elderly idiot! But he had neither courage, nor clearness of mind enough; nor — the desire. And, without answering, he went toward the door to turn up the light. "Oh, no! please don't! It's so nice like this.
Page 315 - ... Youth, and Passion! — to the only salve for the aching that Spring and Beauty bring — the aching for the wild, the passionate, the new, that never quite dies in a man's heart. Ah! well, sooner or later, all men had to say good-bye to that. All men — all men! He crouched down before the hearth. There was no warmth in that fast-blackening ember, but it still glowed like a dark-red flower. And while it lived he crouched there, as though it were that to which he was saying good-bye. And on...
Page 211 - Someone was coming—in white, with bare head, and something blue or black flung across her arm. It was she! No one else walked like that! She came very quickly. And he noticed that her hair looked like little wings on either side of her brow, as if her face were a white bird with dark wings, flying to love!
Page 298 - For a woman to feel that her beauty — the brightness of her hair and eyes, the grace and suppleness of her limbs — were slipping from her and from the man she loved! Was there anything more bitter? — or any more sacred duty than not to add to that bitterness, not to push her with suffering into old age, but to help keep the star of her faith in her charm intact! Man and woman — they both wanted youth again; she, that she might give it all to him; he, because it would help him towards something...
Page 264 - ... her hand on his forehead, said: "You're working too hard, Mark. You don't go out enough." He held those fingers fast. Sylvia! No, indeed he must not think! But he took advantage of her words, and said that he would go out and get some air. He walked at a great pace — to keep thought away — till he reached the river close to Westminster, and, moved by sudden impulse, seeking perhaps an antidote, turned down into that little street under the big Wren church, where he had never been since the...
Page 296 - The trust in their life together, in himself, that those words revealed! Yet, not greater than he had had — still had! She could not understand — he had known that she could never understand; it was why he had fought so for secrecy, all through. She was taking it as if she had lost everything; and in his mind she had lost nothing. This passion, this craving for Youth and Life, this madness — call it what one would — was something quite apart, not touching his love and need of her. If she...