Book Quotes Galore: Piranesi By Susanna Clarke

Book Quotes Galore: Piranesi By Susanna Clarke


So, I have been reading Piranesi for a good 4 months, and finally finished it this week! Yay me! I think one of the reasons why it took me a while to get through Piranesi is due to the fact that this book is quite odd so there is some steep curve of trying to get used to the world-building before I can vibe with the novel, personally.

However, once your girl gets the hang of the book and we’re groovin’, it’s like I cannot put this book down. It’s as if the first 40 pages took me 4 months to read and then the rest I read in one sitting. I know, I’m an odd one. Nevertheless, for those of you who haven’t gotten around to reading this odd piece of literature yet, this is my pitch––using quotes from Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi––to get you to go to your nearest Amazon website and grab one. 

Let’s get right into it. 


piranesi quotes




“Perhaps that is what it is like being with other people. Perhaps even people you like and admire immensely can make you see the World in ways you would rather not.”


Perhaps the wisdom of birds resides, not in the individual, but in the flock, the congregation.


“The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.”



piranesi quotes



“Once, men and women were able to turn themselves into eagles and fly immense distances. They communed with rivers and mountains and received wisdom from them. They felt the turning of the stars inside their own minds. My contemporaries did not understand this. They were all enamoured with the idea of progress and believed that whatever was new must be superior to what was old. As if merit was a function of chronology! But it seemed to me that the wisdom of the ancients could not have simply vanished. Nothing simply vanishes. It’s not actually possible.”





The Theory of Other Worlds. Simply put, it said that when knowledge or power went out of this world it did two things: first, it created another place; and second, it left a hole, a door between this world where it had once existed and the new place it had made.





“Not everything about the Wind was bad. Sometimes it blew through the little voids and crevices of the Statues and caused them to sing and whistle in surprising ways; I had never known the Statues to have voices before and it made me laugh for sheer delight.”


“In my mind are all the tides, their seasons, their ebbs and their flows. In my mind are all the halls, the endless procession of them, the intricate pathways. When this world becomes too much for me, when I grow tired of the noise and the dirt and the people, I close my eyes and I name a particular vestibule to myself; then I name a hall.



piranesi quotes Susanna clarke



‘I love the quiet here. No people!’ She said the last part as if it were the greatest advantage of all.



‘Don’t you like the people in your own Halls?’ I asked, puzzled.



‘I like them,’ she said, with no very great enthusiasm. ‘Mostly I like them. Some of them. I don’t always get them. They don’t always get me.”


I felt a surge of anger and for a moment I thought I would not tell him what I knew. But then I thought that it was unkind to punish him for something he cannot help. It is not his fault that he does not see things the way I do.





My last thought before I fell asleep was: He is dead.

My only friend. My only enemy.





“In accordance with the first system I have named two years 2011 and 2012. This strikes me as deeply pedestrian. Also I cannot remember what happened two thousand years ago which made me think that year a good starting point. According to the second system I have given the years names like ‘The Year I named the Constellations’ and ‘The Year I counted and named the Dead’. I like this much more. It gives each year a character of its own. This is the system I shall use going forward.”


“Abandoning the search for the Knowledge would free us to pursue a new sort of science. We could follow any path that the data suggested to us.”



piranesi quotes Susanna clarke



“Several times Waves passed over our heads, but they fell back the next instant. We were drenched, we were numbed, we were blinded, we were deafened; but always we were saved.”


Birds are not difficult to understand. Their behaviour tells me what they are thinking. Generally it runs along the lines of: Is this food? Is this? What about this? This might be food. I am almost certain that this is. Or occasionally: It is raining. I do not like it.





People call me a philosopher or a scientist or an anthropologist. I am none of those things. I am an anamnesiologist. I study what has been forgotten.

I divine what has disappeared utterly. I work with absences, with silences, with curious gaps between things. I am really more of a magician than anything else.





Of all the billions of people in this world Raphael is the one I know best and love most. I understand much better now – better than Piranesi ever could – the magnificent thing she did in coming to find me, the magnitude of her courage.


I am an anamnesiologist. I study what has been forgotten.



piranesi quotes Susanna clarke



‘Don’t disappear,’ I tell her sternly. ‘Do not disappear.’



She makes a rueful, amused face. ‘I won’t,’ she says.



‘We can’t keep rescuing each other,’ I say. ‘It’s ridiculous.’



She smiles. It is a smile with a little sadness in it. But she still wears the perfume – the first thing I ever knew of her – and it still makes me think of Sunlight and Happiness.



piranesi quotes Susanna clarke



Last night I dreamt that I was standing in the fifth northern hall facing the statue of the gorilla. The gorilla dismounted from his plinth and came towards me with his slow knuckle-walk. He was grey-white in the moonlight; and I flung my arms around his massive neck and told him how happy I was to be home. When I awoke I thought: I am not home. I am here.





Question: is it possible to knit socks from seaweed? Doubtful.





I lined a fishing net with heavy-gauge plastic. Inside I placed what I thought was the right amount of nesting material for two such enormous birds. It approximated to three days’ fuel. This was no insignificant amount and I knew that I might be colder because I had given it away. But what is a few days of feeling cold compared to a new albatross in the World?..


“Is it disrespectful to the House to love some Statues more than others? I sometimes ask Myself this question. It is my belief that the House itself loves and blesses equally everything that it has created. Should I try to do the same? Yet, at the same time, I can see that it is in the nature of men to prefer one thing to another, to find one thing more meaningful than another.”



piranesi quotes Susanna clarke



The World feels complete and whole, and I, its Child, fit into it seamlessly.


“Do you trust the House? I ask Myself. Yes, I answer Myself. And if the House has made you forget, then it has done so for good reason. But I do not understand the reason. It does not matter that you do not understand the reason. You are the Beloved Child of the House. Be comforted. And I am comforted.”


“The way the ancient perceived the world was the way the world truly was. This gave them extraordinary influence and power. Reality was not only capable of taking part in a dialogue–intellegible and articulate–vit was also persuadable.”





The House is valuable because it is the House. It is enough in and of Itself.

It is not the means to an end.





Piranesi. It is what he calls me.

Which is strange because as far as I can remember it is not my name.





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