“Once upon a time there was a woman who was just like all women. And she married a man who was just like all men. And they had some children who were just like all children. And it rained all day.
The woman had to skewer the hole in the kitchen sink, when it was blocked up.
The man went to the pub every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The other nights he mended his broken bicycle, did the pool coupons, and longed for money and power.
The woman read love stories and longed for things to be different.
The children fought and yelled and played and had scabs on their knees.
In the end they all died.”
(Elizabeth Smart, The Assumption of the Rogues & Rascals, p. 81.)
“When Jericho fell, weeping was permitted, and in Babylon it was fashionable to make a memorable moan by the retreating waters. But here you must go to your office, looking spritely, with a sparkle even if synthetic in your eye. For who dares to stand up and say ‘We are weary! O Christ but we are weary!’ ”
(Elizabeth Smart, The Assumption of the Rogues & Rascals, p. 23.)
“83. When Fust, or Faustus, sold at Paris his first printed bibles as manuscripts, the price of a parchment copy was reduced from four or five hundred to sixty, fifty, and forty crowns. The public was at first pleased with the cheapness, and at length provoked by the discovery of the fraud. (Mattaire, Annal. Typograph. tom. i. p. 12.; first edition).”
(Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. IV, chapter XLIV; p. 802 in volume 2 of the Penguin edition.)
“The Decemvirs had neglected to impart the sanction of Zaleucus, which so long maintained the integrity of his republic. A Locrian who proposed any new law, stood forth in the assembly of the people with a cord round his neck, and if the law was rejected, the innovator was instantly strangled.”
(Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. IV, chapter XLI;V pp. 783–4 in volume 2 of the Penguin edition.)