Robinson Crusoe

by Daniel Defoe, Everyman’s Library, 1906

I fix’d my umbrella also in a step at the stern, like a mast, to stand over my head, and keep the heat of the sun off of me like an auning; and thus I every now and then took a little voyage upon the sea, but never went far out, not far from the little creek; but at last, being eager to view the circumference of my little kingdom, I resolv’d upon my tour, and accordingly I victuall’d my ship for the voyage, putting in two dozen of my loaves (cakes I should rather call them) of barley bread, an earthen pot full of parch’d rice, a food I eat a great deal of, a little bottle of rum, half a goat, and powder and shot for killing more, and two large watch-coats, of those which, as I mention’d before, I had sav’d out of the seamen’s chests; these I took, one to lye upon, and the other to cover me in the night.

Huilboek

deur Ryk Hattingh, Human & Rousseau, 2016

Ongelukkig bestaan daar nie ʼn app wat hartseer kan besweer, of woede kan beheer nie. Daar is nie ʼn app wat die verwronge beeld van ʼn dooie doos van ʼn pa uit my brein kan haal en afstof en herprogrammeer en sê siedaar, kyk, hy was eintlik ʼn goeie man wat net die beste vir jou wou gehad het nie. Daar is nie ʼn app wat die verlede ongedaan kan maak nie.

Frankenstein

by Mary Shelley, Wordsworth Classics, 1993

I trembled, and my heart failed within me; when, on looking up, I saw, by the light of the moon, the demon at the casement. A ghastly grin wrinkled his lips as he gazed on me, where I sat fulfilling the task which he had allotted to me. Yes, he had followed me in my travels; he had loitered in forests, hid himself in caves, or taken refuge in wide and desert heaths; and he now came to mark my progress, and claim the fulfilment of my promise.

The Magus

by John Fowles, Vintage Books, 2004

But the maze has no centre. An ending is no more than a point in sequence, a snip of the cutting shears.

The Siege of Krishnapur

by J.G. Farrell, George Weidenfeld & Nicholson Limited, 1972

Desperate remedies were resorted to in the search for food. Any piece of rotten meat that could still be found in the enclave was slipped over an improvised fish hook, attached to a rope and hurled over the parapet in the vain hope of catching a jackal or a pariah dog that might swallow it. Mr Worseley, the engineer, shot a thousand sparrows and made a curry out of them, which all who tasted it proclaimed excellent, but which aroused the Collector’s fury because of the waste of powder and shot. The men at the ramparts had often tried in vain to tempt one of the stray artillery bullocks near enough to capture it, but at long last, towards the end of the first week of September, an old horse was captured at the banqueting hall and put to death. The meat was distributed as rations, the head, bones and entrails used for soup, and the hide cut into strips for the children to suck. For a day and a night the feasting on the horse filled everyone in the enclave with a dreadful exaltation, but gradually it died down as the garrison came to realize that one horse was hardly enough to stay their hunger for more than a few hours. The meal of horse might be compared to the draught of air that a drowning man who has fought his way to the surface manages to inhale before being whirled down into the depths again. After the besieged had licked the corners of their mouths and sucked their fingers clean one by one, the cold ocean of hunger closed over their heads again with scarcely a ripple to be seen.

As I Lay Dying

by William Faulkner, Chatto & Windus, 1935

The sun, an hour above the horizon, is poised like a bloody egg upon the crest of thunderheads; the light has turned copper; in the eye portentous, in the nose sulphurous, smelling of lightning. When Peabody comes, they will have to use the rope. He has pussel-gutted himself eating cold greens. With the rope they will haul him up the path, balloon-like up the sulphurous air.

‘Jewel,’ I say, ‘do you know that Addie Bundrun is going to die? Addie Bundrun is going to die.’

Ons wag op die kaptein

deur Elsa Joubert, Tafelberg, 1968

Dis stil om hulle. In die binneplasie en daar buitekant. Dis asof almal wag. Die Kongolees wat met sy groepie soldate teruggetrek het na die skaduwee van die bome, die plaaswerkers wat versadig na die eerste plunder, stil is onder die bome, wag. Ook hier in die binneplaas wag hulle, soos in die hart van ʼn orkaan, op die volgende opstuwing van geweld.

Om ʼn mens na te boots

deur Jeanne Goosen, Haum Literêr, 1975

Miskien is mense onwerklik. Miskien is ʼn mens leeg van binne en boots die een maar net die ander een na, uit vrees vir alleen wees. Miskien boots die hele wêreld se mense mekaar na, dat nie een mens weet hoe ʼn mens werklik is nie. As ek sê mens, is “mens” maar net ʼn woord, ‘n woord sonder begrip. Miskien is mense die natuur se grootste frats.

Blindness

by José Saramago, The Harvill Press, 1997

The green light came on at last, the cars moved off briskly, but then it became clear that not all of them were equally quick off the mark. The car at the head of the middle lane has stopped, there must be some mechanical fault, a loose accelerator pedal, the gear lever that has stuck, a problem with the suspension, jammed brakes, a breakdown in the electric circuit, unless he has simply run out of petrol, it would not be the first time such a thing has happened. The next group of pedestrians to gather at the crossing see the driver of the stationary car wave his arms behind the windscreen, while the cars behind him frantically sound their horns. Some drivers have already got out of their cars, prepared to push the stranded vehicle to a spot where it will not hold up the traffic, they beat furiously on the closed windows, the man inside turns his head in their direction, first to one side then the other, he is clearly shouting something, to judge by the movements of his mouth he appears to be repeating some words, not one word but three, as turns out to be the case when someone finally manages to open the door, I am blind.

Op soek na generaal Mannetjies Mentz

deur Christoffel Coetzee, Queillerie, 1998

Tussen nuwe gras van die somer, 1900, maak ons verbrande lyke bymekaar. Die meeste is sonder vingers of tone. Soms is die hande en voete heeltemal weggebrand en net stompies bly van die ledemate oor. Daar is van die gesigte meestal niks te herken nie, nie neus of ore nie – net ʼn gapende mond met weggebrande lippe en tande wat by die geringste beweging uit die los tandvleise val.

The Turn of the Screw

by Henry James, Wordsworth Classics, 1991

Of what first happened when I was left alone I had no subsequent memory. I only knew that at the end of it, I suppose, a quarter of an hour, an odorous dampness and roughness, chilling and piercing my trouble, had made me understand that I must have thrown myself, on my face, to the ground and given way to a wildness of grief. I must have lain there long and cried and wailed, for when I raised my head the days was almost done. I got up and looked a moment, through the twilight, at the grey pool and its blank haunted edge, and then I took, back to the house, my dreary and difficult course.

A Gentleman in Moscow

by Amor Towles, Penguin Books, 2016

By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration—and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.