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All the Light We Cannot See book cover

All the Light We Cannot See Quotes

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.
Don’t you want to be alive before you die?.
But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don't you do the same?.
So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?.
Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.
I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads. It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.
You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history. We act in our own self-interest. Of course we do. Name me a person or a nation who does not. The trick is figuring out where your interests are.
All your life you wait, and then it finally comes, and are you ready?.
When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don't you do the same?.
How do you ever know for certain that you are doing the right thing?.
We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.
A real diamond is never perfect.
What do we call visible light? We call it color. But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really, children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.
It's embarrassingly plain how inadequate language is.
is that you still believe you own your life.
Some people are weak in some ways, sir. Others in other ways.
His voice is low and soft, a piece of silk you might keep in a drawer and pull out only on rare occasions, just to feel it between your fingers.
A line comes back to Marie-Laure from Jules Verne: Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.
Stones are just stones and rain is just rain and misfortune is just bad luck.
Every hour, she thinks, someone for whom the war was memory falls out of the world.
That something so small could be so beautiful. Worth so much. Only the strongest people can turn away from feelings like that.
What the war did to dreamers.
What mazes there are in this world. The branches of trees, the filigree of roots, the matrix of crystals, the streets her father recreated in his models... None more complicated than the human brain, Etienne would say, what may be the most complex object in existence; one wet kilogram within which spin universes.
to do something only because everyone else is doing it?.
You know the greatest lesson of history? It's that history is whatever the victors say it is. That's the lesson. Whoever wins, that's who decides the history.
...the air a library and the record of every life lived, every sentence spoken, every word transmitted still reverberating within it.
The brain is locked in total darkness, of course, children, says the voice. It floats in a clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light. And yet the world it constructs in the mind is full of light. It brims with color and movement. So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?.
She walks like a ballerina in dance slippers, her feet as articulate as hands, a little vessel of grace moving out into the fog.
To men like that, time was a surfeit, a barrel they watched slowly drain. When really, he thinks, it’s a glowing puddle you carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop.
The way her fingers flutter through the space around her. Each a thing he hopes never to forget.
Werner wonders in the dead of night, isn’t life a kind of corruption? A child is born, and the world sets in upon it.
This, she realizes, is the basis of all fear. That a light you are powerless to stop will turn on you and usher a bullet to its mark.
Sometimes the eye of a hurricane is the safest place to be.
Doing nothing is as good as collaborating.
And is it so hard to believe that souls might also travel those paths? That her father and Etienne and Madame Manec and the German boy named Werner Pfennig might harry the sky in flocks, like egrets, like terns, like starlings? That great shuttles of souls might fly about, faded but audible if you listen closely enough?.
He sweeps her hair back from her ears; he swings her above his head. He says she is his émerveillement. He says he will never leave her, not in a million years.
War is a bazaar where lives are traded like any other commodity: chocolate or bullets or parachute silk.
To really touch something, she is learning—the bark of a sycamore tree in the gardens; a pinned stag beetle in the Department of Etymology; the exquisitely polished interior of a scallop shell in Dr. Geffard’s workshop—is to love it.
Memories cartwheel out of her head & tumble across the floor.
The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the globe . . . The sea is only a receptacle for all the prodigious, supernatural things that exist inside it. It is only movement and love; it is the living infinite.
If only life were like a Jules Verne novel, thinks Marie-Laure, and you could page ahead when you most needed to, and learn what would happen.
Every outcome has its cause, and every predicament has its solution.
Why else do any of this if not to become who we want to be?.
To shut your eyes is to guess nothing of blindness. Beneath your world of skies and faces and buildings exists a rawer and older world, a place where surface planes disintegrate and sounds ribbon in shoals through the air.
It strikes Werner just then as wondrously futile to build splendid buildings, to make music, to sing songs, to print huge books full of colorful birds in the face of the seismic, engulfing indifference of the world - what pretensions humans have!.
A shell screams over the house. He thinks: I only want to sit here with her for a thousand hours.
Open your eyes, the Frenchman on the radio used to say, and see what you can with them before they close forever.
And is it so hard to believe that souls might also travel those paths? That her father and Etienne and Madame Manec and the German boy named Werner Pfennig might harry the sky in flocks, like egrets, like terns, like starlings? That great shuttles of souls might fly about, faded but audible if you listen closely enough? They flow above the chimneys, ride the sidewalks, slip through your jacket and shirt and breastbone and lungs, and pass out through the other side, the air a library and the record of every life lived, every sentence spoken, every word transmitted still reverberating within it.
But God is only a white cold eye, a quarter-moon poised above the smoke, blinking, blinking, as the city is gradually pounded to dust.
Seventy-six years old," she whispers, "and I can still feel like this? Like a little girl with stars in my eyes?.
And yet she can tell he is visited by fears so immense, so multiple, that she can almost feel the terror pulsing inside him. As though some beast breathes all the time at the windowpanes of his mind.
It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.
There is pride, too, though—pride that he has done it alone. That his daughter is so curious, so resilient. There is the humility of being a father to someone so powerful, as if he were only a narrow conduit for another, greater thing. That’s how it feels right now, he thinks, kneeling beside her, rinsing her hair: as though his love for his daughter will outstrip the limits of his body. The walls could fall away, even the whole city, and the brightness of that feeling would not wane. The drain moans; the cluttered house crowds in close.
A scientist’s work is determined by two things: his interests and those of his time. Everything has led to this.
Who knew love could kill you?.
Live faithfully, fight bravely, and die laughing.
Radio: it ties a million ears to a single mouth. Out of loudspeakers all around Zollverein, the staccato voice of the Reich grows like some imperturbable tree; its subjects lean toward its branches as if towards the lips of God. And when God stops whispering, they become desperate for someone who can put things right.
Is she happy? For portions of every day, she is happy.
It was hard to live through the early 1940s in France and not have the war be the center from which the rest of your life spiraled. Marie-Laure still cannot wear shoes that are too large, or smell a boiled turnip, without experiencing revulsion. Neither can she listen to lists of names. Soccer team rosters, citations at the end of journals, introductions at faculty meetings – always they seem to her some vestige of the prison lists that never contained her father’s name.
There are, he assures her, no such things as curses. There is luck, maybe, bad or good. A slight inclination of each day towards success or failure. But no curses.
The moon sets and the eastern sky lightens, the hem of night pulling away, taking stars with it one by one until only two are left.
The very life of any creature is a quick-fading spark in fathomless darkness.
Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.
He was a just a boy. They all were. Even the largest of them.
Walk the paths of logic. Every outcome has its cause, and every predicament has its solution. Every lock its key.
Papa used to say they were like stars in heaven. Like apples in a tree.
To shut you eyes is to guess nothing of blindness.
This is life, he thinks, this is why we live, to play like this on a day when winter is finally releasing its grip.
A girl got kicked out of the swimming hole today. Inge Hachmann. They said they wouldn’t let us swim with a half-breed. Unsanitary. A half-breed, Werner. Aren’t we half-breeds too? Aren’t we half our mother, half our father?.
Things hardly ever work on the first try. We’ll make another, a better one.
Nothing will be healed in this kitchen. Some griefs can never be put right ... She only wants a tide of normality to wash in and cover everything again.
When really, he thinks, it’s a glowing puddle you carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop.
Not in years. But today. Today maybe I did.
There has always been a sliver of panic in him, deeply buried, when it comes to his daughter: a fear that he is no good as a father, that he is doing everything wrong. That he never quite understood the rules. All those Parisian mothers pushing buggies through the Jardin des Plantes or holding up cardigans in department stores—it seemed to him that those women nodded to each other as they passed, as though each possessed some secret knowledge that he did not. How do you ever know for certain that you are doing the right thing?.
Marie-Laure smiles, and he laughs a pure, contagious laugh, one she will try to remember all her life, father and daughter turning in circles on the sidewalk in front of their apartment house, laughing together while snow sifts through the branches above.
The window glows. The slow sandy light of dawn permeates the room. Everything transient and aching; everything tentative. To be here, in this room, high in this house, out of the cellar, with her: it is like medicine.
Isn't doing nothing a kind of troublemaking?.