Quotes from The Well of Loneliness – Radclyffe Hall

“The subtlety, the craftiness of that question which in common decency could have but one answer! Oh, well, she had gone and would go even farther. Raftery was dead, there was nothing to hold her, she was free–what a terrible thing could be freedom. Trees were free when they were uprooted by the wind; ships were free when they were torn from their moorings; men were free when they were cast out of their homes–free to starve, free to perish of cold and hunger.” – 234-235

“And now quite often while she waited at the stations for the wounded, she would see unmistakable figures–unmistakable to her they would be at first sight, she would single them out of the crowd as by instinct. For as though gaining courage from the terror that is war, many a one who was even as Stephen, had crept out of her hole and come into the daylight, come into the daylight and faced her country: ‘Well, here I am, will you take me or leave me?’ And England had taken her, asking no questions–she was strong and efficient, she could fill a man’s place, she could organize too, given scope for her talent. England had said: ‘Thank you very much. you’re just what we happened to want…at the moment’.” – 270-271

“Our love may be faithful even unto death and beyond–yet the world will call it unclean. We may harm no living creature by our love; we may grow more perfect in understanding and in charity because of our loving; but all this will not save you from the scourge of a world that will turn away its eyes from your noblest actions, finding only corruption and vileness in you. You will see men and women defiling each other, laying the burden of their sins upon their children. You will see unfaithfulness, lies and deceit among those whom the world views with approbation. You will find that many have grown hard of heart, have grown greedy, selfish, cruel and lustful; and then you will turn to me and will say: ‘You and I are more worthy of respect than these people. Why does the world persecute us, Stephen?’ And I shall answer: ‘Because in this world there is only toleration for the so-called normal’.” – 301

“Remembering Mary, remembering Morton, her pen covered sheet after sheet of paper; she wrote with the speed of true inspiration, and at times her work brushed the hem of greatness.” – 342

” ‘They are good, these doctors–some of them very good; they work hard trying to solve our problem, but half the time they must work in the dark–the whole truth is known only to the normal invert. The doctors cannot make the ignorant think, cannot hope to bring home the sufferings of millions; only one of ourselves can some day do that…It will need great courage but it will be done, because all things must work toward ultimate good; there is no real wastage and no destruction.’ He lit a cigarette and started thoughtfully at her for a moment or two. Then he touched her hand. ‘Do you comprehend? There is no destruction’.” – 390

“As for those who were ashamed to declare themselves, lying low for the sake of a peaceful existence, she utterly despised such of them as had brais; they were traitors to themselves and their fellows, she insisted. For the sooner the world came to realize that fine brains very frequently went with inversion, the sooner it would have to withdraw its ban, and the sooner would cease this persecution. Persecution was always a hideous thing, breeding hideous thoughts–and such thoughts were dangerous.” – 406-407


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