Children are often under a long delusion concerning the material of which dolls are made. Even long after it is known that they are wood, wax, etc., it is felt that they are of skin, flesh, etc. To find a doll’s head hollow or that it is sawdust, while it suggests to very young children the same as contents of their own body, is with older children a frequent source of disenchantment and sometimes marks the sudden end of the doll period.

– G. Staley Hall and A. Caswell Ellis, A Study of Dolls (1897)


Mother, monogamy, romance. High spurts the fountain; fierce and foamy the wild jet. The urge has but a single outlet. My love, my baby. No wonder those poor pre-moderns were mad and wicked and miserable. Their world didn’t allow them to take things easily, didn’t allow them to be sane, virtuous, happy. What with mothers and lovers, what with the prohibitions they were not conditioned to obey, what with the temptations and the lonely remorses, what with all the diseases and the endless isolating pain, what with the uncertainties and the poverty–they were forced to feel strongly. And feeling strongly, how could they be stable?

– Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932)

In our returns are 41 distinct cases of punishment by being sent to bed, 34 spanked, 32 whippings, 25 scoldings, 20 put in closet, 13 kept in, 12 shut up, 17 made to sit down, 11 shaken, 7 slapped, 7 severely talked to, 5 deprived of food, 2 tied to a post, 1 made to stand up and sing, 1 sent home from school, 1 had cayenne pepper put on its tongue, 1 was punched, 1 had its legs pulled, 1 had its face covered, 1 was fed on bread and water, 1 was thrown down stairs, 1 made to sit on the door knob, 1 had to go to bed in the dark, 1 was hung, with due ceremony. Rewards are in the following order of frequency: take out walking, visiting, sit up late, go riding, be kissed, go without nap, go shopping, told a story, taken to party, given candy, cake, clothes, ribbons. Rewards are often promised or punishments are often threatened, but not given. There seems little disposition to make the punishment fit the crime.

– G. Staley Hall and A. Caswell Ellis, A Study of Dolls (1897)

Monsters have long been stereotyped by a propensity for inarticulate grunts, when, in fact, they are often capable of expressing themselves quite eloquently. Most incarnations of Frankenstein’s monster would scarcely be recognized by his literary progenitor, Mary Shelley, who originally gave him an excellent knowledge of French (rendered in English for her readers of 1818) and an impressive familiarity with translations of Paradise Lost, Plutarch’sLives, and The Sorrows of Young Werther. Yet, the monster’s literacy and volubility have been of scant interest to stage and screen adaptors.

– David J. Skal, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Monsters”, Speaking of Monsters: A Teratological Anthology (2012)

I see the winter approaching without much concern, though a passionate lover of fine weather, and the pleasant scenes of summer, but the long evenings have their comforts too, and there is hardly to be found upon earth, I suppose, so snug a creature as an Englishman by the fireside in the winter. I mean, however, an Englishman that lives in the country, for in London it is not easy to avoid intrusion.

– William Cowper, The Life and Letters of William Cowper, Esq (1809)

The Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend offers evidence that the practice of ridding communities of disease by means of a scapegoat was widespread. Until recent times the Quechua and Aymara Indians used methods for this purpose which can be traced back to the Incas. When a village was suffering from an epidemic, a black llama was loaded with the clothing of the sick and driven from the village, carrying the disease with it. The dictionary also notes that the medicine men of the Quechua and Aymara usually, though not always, transferred the diseases of their patients to a guinea pig. The unfortunate animal was then killed and burnt.

– Tom Douglas, Scapegoats: Transferring Blame (1995)

A man may be puffed and belauded, envied, ridiculed, counted upon as a tool and fallen in love with, or at least selected as a future husband, and yet remain virtually unknown—known merely as a cluster of signs for his neighbors’ false suppositions.

– George Eliot, Middlemarch (1871)


I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.

– Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner (1982)



I have seen sucrose beaches and water a very bright blue. I have seen anal-red leisure suits with flared lapels. I have smelled what suntan lotion smells like spread over 21000 pounds of hot flesh. I have been addressed as “Mon” in three different nations. I have watched 500 upscale Americans dance the Electric Slide. I have seen sunsets that looked computer-enhanced and a tropical moon that looked more like a sort of obscenely large and dangling lemon than like the good old stony U.S. moon I’m used to. I have (very briefly) joined a Conga Line.

– David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (1997)



“You’ve had all these fabulous experiences. I wish mine would show me something.”


“The experience, the experience. Haven’t you learned?”

Profane didn’t have to think long. “No,” he said, “offhand, I’d say I haven’t learned a goddamn thing.”

– Thomas Pynchon, V. (1961)

(He goes out while she watches in wary disbelief. He returns with an old cricket bat.)

HENRY: Shut up and listen. This thing here, which looks like a wooden club, is actually several pieces of particular wood cunningly put together in a certain way so that the whole thing is sprung, like a dance floor. It’s for hitting cricket balls with. If you get it right, the cricket ball will travel two hundred yards in four seconds, and all you’ve done is give it a knock like knocking the top off a bottle of stout, and it makes a noise like a trout taking a fly … (He clucks his tongue to make the noise.) What we’re trying to do is to write cricket bats, so that when we throw up an idea and give it a little knock, it might … travel … (He clucks his tongue again and picks up the script.) Now, what we’ve got here is a lump of wood of roughly the same shape trying to be a cricket bat, and if you hit a ball with it, the ball will travel about ten feet and you will drop the bat and dance about shouting ‘Ouch!’ with your hands stuck into your armpits. (Indicating the cricket bat.) This isn’t better because someone says it’s better, or because there’s a conspiracy by the MCC to keep cudgels out of Lords. It’s better because it’s better.

– Tom Stoppard, The Real Thing (1983)