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    50 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Canadian Literature

    "We thought we had such problems. How were we to know we were happy?"

    The Canadian Literature landscape is ever-changing but consistently rich. From classics to contemporaries, here are 50 of the most beautiful sentences from Canadian authors.



    "We all fight on two fronts, the one facing the enemy, the one facing what we do to the enemy."

    Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road


    "Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart."

    Yann Martel, Life of Pi


    "There's something to be said for hunger: at least it lets you know you're still alive."

    Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake



    "If you have to end up in the hospital, try to focus all your pain in your heart rather than your head."

    -Miriam Toews All My Puny Sorrows


    "She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape."

    Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient


    "It occurs to Blanche that English doesn't have French's useful distinction between libre, meaning that something's unconstrained, and gratuit, meaning that it costs nothing. Free thought, free speech, free love: the English word that Arthur was so fond of obscures the price of things."

    Emma Donoghue, Frog Music



    "Anyway, maybe there weren't any solutions. Human society, corpses and rubble. It never learned, it made the same cretinous mistakes over and over, trading short-term gain for long-term pain."

    Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake


    "We are changed souls; we don't look at things the same way anymore. For there was a time when we expected the worst. But then the worst happened, did it not? And so we will never be surprised again."

    Douglas Coupland, Life After God


    "I guess mercy is a muscle like any other. You got to exercise it, or it just cramp right up."

    Esi Edugyan, Half Blood Blues



    "He said that in a way being loved is like being told you never have to die."

    Timothy Findley, The Wars


    "The conversation of kisses. Subtle, engrossing, fearless, transforming."

    Alice Munro, Runaway


    "Get drunk, Austin, have a love affair. It would be a tragedy to die and discover that you hadn't completely used up your body."

    Jane Urquhart, The Underpainter



    "Sex is like a drink, it's bad to start brooding about it too early in the day."

    Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake


    "If I see someone I see the ghost of them, the air around them, and where they've been. If I see a city I see it's living ghostliness—the stray looks, the dying hands. I see it's needs and its discomforts locked in apartments."

    Dionne Brand, A Map to the Door of No Return


    "How a mother comes to love her child, her caring at all for this thing that's made her heavy, lopsided and slow, this thing that made her wish she were dead ... that's the miracle."

    Ami McKay, The Birth House



    "We are born, we live and we die - in the midst of the marvelous."

    Sandra Gulland, The Last Great Dance on Earth


    "I'll love you forever,

    I'll like you for always,

    As long as I'm living,

    my baby you'll be."

    Robert Munsch, Love You Forever


    "Ignoring isn't the same as ignorance, you have to work at it."

    Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale



    "Charity should be blind to everything but need. Our personal feelings should not determine whose starvation is legitimate."

    ― Michael Redhill, Consolation


    "It was November--the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul."

    L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


    "The first sentence of every novel should be: Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human."

    Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion



    "To gaze into another persons face is to do two things: to recognize their humanity and to assert your own."

    Lawrence Hill, Someone Knows My Name


    "To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."

    Yann Martel, Life of Pi


    "It's hard to grieve in a town where everything that happens is God's will. It's hard to know what to do with your emptiness when you're not supposed to have emptiness."

    Miriam Toews, A Complicated Kindness



    "This last night we tear into each other, as if to wound, as if to find the key to everything before morning."

    Michael Ondaatje, Coming Through Slaughter


    "He doesn't know which is worse, a past he can't regain or a present that will destroy him if he looks at it too clearly. Then there's the future. Sheer vertigo."

    Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake


    "Starved for affection, terrified of abandonment, I began to wonder if sex was really just an excuse to look deeply into another human being's eyes."

    Douglas Coupland, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture



    "Other people are not here to fulfill our needs or meet our expectations, nor will they always treat us well. Failure to accept this will generate feelings of anger and resentment. Peace of mind comes with taking people as they are and emphasizing the positive."

    A.S.A. Harrison, The Silent Wife


    "The house seemed almost without smells at all, pleasant or foul, leaving me to wonder if the upper class existed on a different sort of air from the rest of the world, a breeze piped into their homes from above the clouds, so clean you had to pay for it."

    Ami McKay, The Virgin Cure


    "...the face has limited space. My mother used to say, if you fill your face with laughing, there will be no more room for crying."

    Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance



    "...we must be a beacon of hope, because if you tell people there's nothing they can do, they will do worse than nothing."

    Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood


    "There are strange things done in the midnight sun

    By the men who moil for gold;

    The Arctic trails have their secret tales

    That would make your blood run cold;

    The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

    But the queerest they ever did see

    Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

    I cremated Sam McGee."

    Robert W. Service, The Cremation of Sam McGee


    "To move to a new place -- that's the greatest excitement. For a while you believe you carry nothing with you -- all is canceled from before, or cauterized, and you begin again and nothing will go wrong this time."

    Margaret Laurence, The Stone Angel



    "We are changed souls; we don't look at things the same way anymore. For there was a time when we expected the worst. But then the worst happened, did it not? And so we will never be surprised again."

    Douglas Coupland, Life After God


    "Conversation in its true meaning isn't all wagging the tongue; sometimes it is a deeply shared silence. "

    Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels


    "I think of the emptiness of outer space, and the men in their little pods going up there alone, wives and girlfriends left behind. I think of Abel and me lying on the grass, looking up at the stars, and how great that was, but, still, I was always waiting for him to turn his head. To look at me"

    Barbara Gowdy, The Romantic


    "By things so achingly small are lives measured and marred."

    Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana


    This is one list by one reader and is by no means definitive. Have a Canadian lit quote that struck and stayed with you? Add it in the comments below!