I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Just to be in love seemed the most blissful luxury I had ever known. The thought came to me that perhaps it is the loving that counts, not the being loved in return — that perhaps true loving can never know anything but happiness. For a moment I felt that I had discovered a great truth.
This isn’t my favourite book – from all my other book challenge posts, you can probably tell that I find it impossible to pick a favourite book. But I do love this little quote. Not because I think the sentiment itself is necessarily a ‘great truth’ – though it may be for some people. It’s a complicated concept – if you believe it is the loving that counts and not the return, how does that manifest itself? Does it protect you from heartbreak? Does it allow you to avoid pressuring the object of your affections? Or does it merely allow you to wallow in affection that will not be returned; to indulge in your unrequited love?
Food for thought certainly makes a good quote. But what I like about this is that for one, it sums up something about first love – arguably the most hopeful and optimistic we experience. Perhaps, on occasion, naive. Certainly intense. And always strange. The first time we fall in love opens up a whole new labyrinth of feelings and experiences that we just don’t know how to navigate yet, and that feeling of revelation when we think we figure out the way is when we start to find our feet again. Oscar Wilde said “I am not nearly young enough to know everything” – and it is true that youth often lends itself to the comfort of believing you (and possibly only you) can see into the heart of the world and understand it; that you see every corner of the room lit properly, when others miss how simple (or complex) it really is. First love might be the first time we are unsure of ourselves. And finding that grounding ‘truth’ of it might just be how we cope.
I enjoy that when I read this book as a teenager, this quote leapt out at me as perfect, because it articulated how I felt myself. And now when I reread at 21, it means something different – it is that note of self-doubt creeping in that hints at Cassandra’s awareness of her melodramatic tendency. For a moment I felt that I had discovered a great truth. For a moment.
And then the feeling was gone.