“We had gathered in the dining room of the Spanish Legation around the massive mahogany table supported by four huge legs resembling elephant feet and laden with glass and old Spanish silver. The tapestries of red brocade hanging on the walls, the dark squat furniture carved with figures of dancing children, with festoons of fruit and game and with heavy-breasted caryatids — that Spanish interior so sensuous and so funereal, contrasted oddly with the white dazzle of the nocturnal light coming through the open window. The men in evening dress and the bejeweled women in low-cut dresses around that massive table with elephant feet sticking out between silk skirts and black trousers, in the gloomy red glow of brocade and in the dull glint of the silver, had a funereal appearance under the constant stare of the portraits of Spanish kings and grandees hung on the walls with thick cords of twisted silk.
“A golden crucifix hung over the sideboard, and Christ’s feet touched the necks of champagne bottles sunk in buckets of ice. They looked like paintings by Lucas Cranach; the flesh seemed livid and worn, the eyes circled with blue, the brows pale and hot; a greenish, cadaverous hue spread over every face. The guests sat with staring, wide-open eyes. The breath of the nocturnal day dimmed the window panes. Midnight was approaching and the sunset glow was reddening the treetops in Brunnsparken. It was cold. I looked at the bare shoulders of Anita Bergenstrom, the daughter of the Finnish Minister in Paris, and I remembered I was leaving next day with de Foxa and Michailescu for Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle.”
– From Kaputt (1944) by Curzio Malaparte. The author dines in Helsinki during World War II.
“We ate fish nearly every day: bonito, dolphin, sierra, red snappers. We made thousands of big fat biscuits, hot and unhealthful. Twice a week Sparky created his magnificent spaghetti. Unbelievable amounts of coffee were consumed. One of our party made some lemon pies, but the quarreling grew bitter over them; the thievery, the suspicion of favoritism, the vulgar traits of selfishness and perfidy those pies brought out saddened all of us. And when one of us who, from being the most learned should have been the most self-controlled, took to hiding pie in his bed and munching it secretly when the lights were out, we decided there must be no more lemon pie. Character was crumbling, and the law of the fang was too close to us.”
– John Steinbeck in The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1941)
“I have heard talk and talk, but nothing is done. Good words do not last long unless they amount to something. Words do not pay for my dead people. They do not pay for my country, now overrun by white men… Good words will not give my people good health and stop them from dying. Good words will not get my people a home where they can live in peace and take care of themselves. I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and broken promises…
“You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases…
“Let me be a free man — free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk and think and act for myself — and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.”
– Chief Joseph (d. 1904) quoted in I Have Spoken: American History Through the Voices of the Indians (1971) compiled by Virginia Irving Armstrong