Love: Classics from the Modern Library

Overview

The Modern Library is happy to present Love, which is the fourth—following Christmas Classics, Mothers, and The Raven and the Monkey's Paw—in its series of reading treasuries. This original collection is dedicated to literary representations of our most essential emotion. In stories, excerpts, essays, and poems, Love celebrates the joys of Eros and some of its heartache, longing, and melancholy.
        Love includes selections by many of ...
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Overview

The Modern Library is happy to present Love, which is the fourth—following Christmas Classics, Mothers, and The Raven and the Monkey's Paw—in its series of reading treasuries. This original collection is dedicated to literary representations of our most essential emotion. In stories, excerpts, essays, and poems, Love celebrates the joys of Eros and some of its heartache, longing, and melancholy.
        Love includes selections by many of our most cherished writers and poets and ranges across the ages to find the best examples of classic love literature. Thomas Bulfinch takes us back to Venus and Adonis, Cupid and Psyche—the great Greek and Roman fables that show us the love of legend. In "The Diary of Adam and Eve" Mark Twain gives his inimitable twist to the original boy-meets-girl story. This selection includes offerings from expert practitioners of the short story, like Anton Chekhov, D. H. Lawrence, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Wharton. Love also borrows from some of the great romantic novels, with extracts from Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Wuthering Heights, Washington Square, and The Scarlet Letter. And in essay form, Mary Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Louis Stevenson describe their experience of love.
        Love is best celebrated in verse, and the collection closes with offerings from some of the most renowned poets of all, among them Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, Geoffrey Chaucer, Lord Byron, Andrew Marvell, Walt Whitman, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Donne, and William Shakespeare, whose sonnets may be the most satisfying evocation of love that we have inthe English language.
        This is a collection to cherish and to share, to read and read aloud, and to come back to again and again.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375753091
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/9/1999
  • Series: Modern Library Series
  • Pages: 210
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Read an Excerpt


From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte


And where is Mr. Rochester?

He comes in at last: I am not looking at the arch, yet I see him enter. I try to concentrate my attention on those netting-needles, on the meshes of the purse I am forming--I wish to think only of the work I have in my hands, to see only the silver beads and silk threads that lie in my lap; whereas, I distinctly behold his figure, and I inevitably recall the moment when I last saw it: just after I had rendered him, what he deemed, an essential service and he holding my hand, and looking down on my face, surveyed me with eyes that revealed a heart full and eager to overflow; in whose emotions I had a part. How near had I approached him at that moment! What had occurred since, calculated to change his and my relative positions? Yet now, how distant, how far estranged we were! So far estranged, that I did not expect him to come and speak to me. I did not wonder, when, without looking at me, he took a seat at the other side of the room, and began conversing with some of the ladies.

No sooner did I see that his attention was riveted on them, and that I might gaze without being observed, than my eyes were drawn involuntarily to his face: I could not keep their lids under control: they would rise and the irises would fix on him. I looked, and had an acute pleasure in looking,-a precious, yet poignant pleasure-, pure gold, with a steely point of agony: a pleasure like what the thirst-perishing man might feel who knows the well to which he has crept is poisoned, yet stoops and drinks divine draughts nevertheless.

Most true it is that "beauty is in the eye of thegazer." My master's colourless, olive face, square, massive brow broad and jetty eyebrows, deep eyes, strong features, firm grim mouth,-all energy, decision, will,were not beautiful, according to rule, but they were more than beautiful to me: they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me,-that took my feelings from my own power and fettered them in his. I had not intended to love him: the reader knows I have wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.

I compared him with his guests. What was the gallant grace of the Lynns, the languid elegance of Lord Ingram, even the military distinction of Colonel Dent, contrasted with his look of native pith and genuine power? I had no sympathy in their appearance, their expression: yet I could imagine that most observers would call them attractive, handsome, imposing; while they would pronounce Mr. Rochester at once harsh-featured and melancholy-looking. I saw them smile, laugh-it was nothing: the light of the candles had as much soul in it as their smile; the tinkle of the bell as much significance as their laugh. I saw Mr. Rochester smile: his stern features softened; his eye grew both brilliant and gentle, its ray both searching and sweet. He was talking, at the moment, to Louisa and Amy Eshton. I wondered to see them receive with calm that look which seemed to me so penetrating: I expected their eyes to fall, their colour to rise under it; yet I was glad when I found they were in no sense moved. "He is not to them what he is to me," I thought: "he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine;-I am sure he is,-I feel akin to him,-I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him. Did I say, a few days since, that I had nothing to do with him but to receive my salary at his hands? Did I forbid myself to think of him in any other light than as a paymaster? Blasphemy against nature! Every good, true, vigorous feeling I have, gathers impulsively round him. I know I must conceal my sentiments: I must smother hope; I must remember that he cannot care much for me. For when I say that I am of his kind, I do not mean that I have his force to influence, and his spell to attract: I mean only that I have certain tastes and feelings in common with him. I must, then, repeat continually that we are for ever sundered:-and yet, while I breathe and think I must love him."

"It is a long way to Ireland, Janet, and I am sorry to send my little friend on such weary travels: but if I can't do better, how is it to be helped? Are you anything akin to me, do you think, Jane?"

I could risk no sort of answer by this time: my heart was full.

"Because," he said, "I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you,-you'd forget me."

"That I never should, sit: you know"-impossible to proceed.

"Jane, do you hear that nightingale singing in the wood? Listen!"

In listening, I sobbed convulsively; for I could repress what I endured no longer; I was obliged to yield, and I was shaken from head to foot with acute distress. When I did speak, it was only to express an impetuous wish that I had never been born, or never come to Thornfield.

"Because you are sorry to leave it?"

The vehemence of emotion, stirred by grief and love within me, was claiming mastery, and struggling for full sway; and asserting a right to predominate: to overcome, to live, rise, and reign at last; yes,-and to speak.

"I grieve to leave Thornfield: I love Thornfield:-I love it, because I have lived in it a full and delightful life,-momentarily at least. I have not been trampled on. I have not been petrified. I have not been buried with inferior minds, and excluded from every glimpse of communion with what is bright and energetic, and high. I have talked, face to face, with what I reverence; with what I delight in,-with an original, a vigorous, an expanded mind. I have known you, Mr. Rochester; and it strikes me with terror and anguish to feel I absolutely must be torn from you for ever. I see the necessity of departure; and it is like looking on the necessity of death."

"Where do you see the necessity?" he asked, suddenly.

"Where? You, sit, have placed it before me."

"In what shape?"

"In the shape of Miss Ingram; a noble and beautiful woman,-your bride."

"My bride! What bride? I have no bride!"

"But you will have."

"Yes:-I will!-I will!" He set his teeth.

"Then I must go:-you have said it yourself ì

"No: you must stay! I swear it-and the oath shall be kept."



"I tell you I must go!" I retorted, roused to something like passion. "Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?-a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!-I have as much soul as you, and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty, and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, or even of mortal flesh:-it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal,-as we are!"

"As we are!" repeated Mr. Rochester-"so," he added, enclosing me in his arms, gathering me to his breast, pressing his lips on my lips: "so, Jane!"

"Yes, so, sit," I rejoined: "and yet not so; for you are a married man-or as good as a married man, and wed to one inferior to you-to one with whom you have no sympathy-whom I do not believe you truly love; for I have seen and heard you sneer at her. I would scorn such a union: therefore I am better than you-let me go!"

"Where, Jane? To Ireland?"

"Yes-to Ireland. I have spoken my mind, and can go anywhere now."

"Jane, be still; don't struggle so, like a wild, frantic bird that is rending its own plumage in its desperation."

"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you."

Another effort set me at liberty, and I stood erect before him.

"And your will shall decide your destiny," he said: "I offer you my hand, my heart, and a share of all my possessions."

"You play a farce, which I merely laugh at."

"I ask you to pass through life at my side to be my second self and best earthly companion."

"For that fate you have already made your choice, and must abide by it."

îJane, be still a few moments: you are over-excited: I will be still too." A waft of wind came sweeping down the laurel-walk, and trembled through the boughs of the chestnut: it wandered away-away-to an indefinite distance it died. The nightingale's song was then the only voice of the hour: in listening to it, I again wept. Mr. Rochester sat quiet, looking at me gently and seriously. Some time passed before he spoke: he at last said:

"Come to my side, Jane, and let us explain and understand one another."

"I will never again come to your side: I am torn away now, and cannot return."

"But, Jane, I summon you as my wife: it is you only I intend to marry."

I was silent: I thought he mocked me.

"Come Jane come hither."

"Your bride stands between us."

He rose, and with a stride reached me.

"My bride is here," he said, again drawing me to him, "because my equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you marry me?"

Still I did not answer, and still I writhed myself from his grasp: for I was still incredulous.

"Do you doubt me Jane?"

"Entirely."

"You have no faith in me?"

"Not a whit."

"Am I a liar in your eyes?" he asked passionately. "Little sceptic, you shall be convinced. What love have I for Miss Ingram? None: and that you know. What love has she for me? None: as I have taken pains to prove: I caused a rumour to reach her that my fortune was not a third of what was supposed, and after that I presented myself to see the result; it was coldness both from her and her mother. I would not-I could not-marry Miss Ingram. You-you strange you almost unearthly thing!-I love as my own flesh. You-poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are I entreat to accept me as a husband."

"What, me!" I ejaculated: beginning in his earnestness-and especially in his incivility-to credit his sincerity: "me who have not a friend in the world but you-if you are my friend: not a shilling but what you have given me?î

"You Jane. I must have you for my own-entirely my own. Will you be mine? Say yes, quickly."

"Mr. Rochester, let me look at your face: turn to the moonlight."

"Why?"

"Because I want to read your countenance-turn!"

"There: you will find it scarcely more legible than a crumpled, scratched page. Read on: only make haste, for I suffer."

His face was very much agitated and very much flushed, and there were strong workings in the features, and strange gleams in the eyes.

"Oh, Jane, you torture me!" he exclaimed. "With that searching and yet faithful and generous look, you torture me!"

"How can I do that? If you are true and your offer real, my only feelings to you must be gratitude and devotion-they cannot torture."

"Gratitude!" he ejaculated: and added wildly-"Jane, accept me quickly. Say Edward-give me my name-Edward-I will marry you."

"Are you in earnest?-Do you truly love me?-Do you sincerely wish me to be your wife?"

"I do; and if an oath is necessary to satisfy you, I swear it."

"Then, sit, I will marry you."

"Edward-my little wife!"

"Dear Edward!"

"Come to me come to me entirely now," said he: and added, in his deepest tone, speaking in my ear as his cheek was laid on mine, "Make my happiness-I will make yours."

"God pardon me!" he subjoined ere long, "and man meddle not with me: I have her, and will hold her."

"There is no one to meddle, sit. I have no kindred to interfere."

"No-that is the best of it," he said. And if I had loved him less I should have thought his accent and look of exultation savage: but sitting by him, roused from the nightmare of parting-called to the paradise of union-I thought only of the bliss given me to drink in so abundant a flow. Again and again he said, "Are you happy Jane?" And again and again I answered, "Yes." After which he murmured, "It will atone-it will atone. Have I not found her friendless, and cold, and comfortless? Will I not guard, and cherish, and solace her? Is there not love in my heart, and constancy in my resolves? It will expiate at God's tribunal. I know my Maker sanctions what I do. For the world's judgment-I wash my hands thereof. For man's opinion-I defy it."

But what had befallen the night? The moon was not yet set, and we were all in shadow: I could scarcely see my master's face, near as I was. And what ailed the chestnut tree? It writhed and groaned; while wind roared in the laurel-walk, and came sweeping over us.

"We must go in," said Mr. Rochester: "the weather changes. I could have sat with thee till morning, Jane."

"And so," thought I, "could I with you." I should have said so, perhaps, but a livid, vivid spark leapt out of a cloud at which I was looking, and there was a crack, a crash, and a close rattling peal; and I thought only of hiding my dazzled eyes against Mr. Rochester's shoulder.

The rain rushed down. He hurried me up the walk, through the grounds, and into the house; but we were quite wet before we could pass the threshold. He was taking off my shawl in the hall, and shaking the water out of my loosened hair, when Mrs. Fairfax emerged from her room. I did not observe her at first, nor did Mr. Rochester. The lamp was lit. The clock was on the stroke of twelve.

"Hasten to take off your wet things," said he: "and before you go, goodnight-goodnight, my darling!"



He kissed me repeatedly. When I looked up, on leaving his arms, there stood the widow, pale, grave, and amazed. I only smiled at her, and ran upstairs. "Explanation will do for another time," thought I. Still, when I reached my chamber, I felt a pang at the idea she should even temporarily misconstrue what she had seen. But joy soon effaced every other feeling; and loud as the wind blew, near and deep as the thunder crashed, fierce and frequent as the lightning gleamed, cataract-like as the rain fell during a storm of two hours' duration, I experienced no fear, and little awe. Mr. Rochester came thrice to my door in the course of it, to ask if I was safe and tranquil: and that was comfort, that was strength for anything.

Before I left my bed in the morning, little Adele came running in to tell me that the great horse-chestnut at the bottom of the orchard had been struck by lightning in the night, and half of it split away.

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