Literary breakup quotes

Last updated 07:46 28/09/2012

Love huuuuurrts, crooned rock band Nazareth in the 1970s.

I know this because a few months ago, I listened to that song and many other mopey heartbreak tunes about doomed love affairs and tragic star-crossed lovers while in the throes of my own heartbreak. I won't go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that many bottles of wine and many sad passages from books were devoured while I sat alone in my study, contemplating the broken pieces of my old life. Oh, the melodrama!

The truth is that if you have been alive for any decent length of time, breakups are inevitable. I mean, you could marry the boy or girl next door straight out of college and go on to live together in mutual bliss for decades - but one of you still has to go first. Life, unfortunately, doesn't imitate The Notebook. The Notebook

One of the funny things I've noticed about the world is that when something of such a monumental scale happens to you, you start noticing it happening to other people too. All of a sudden, friends and family were coming out with their own tales of woe. It can slide your life into perspective, to realise that you're really only one minuscule part of the great puzzle of humanity.

The awesome thing about literature is that you can glean wisdom from it for just about any situation. Even if some of these quotes sound like they're being bellowed out from a dark stinking cave by a wounded bear, it can be uplifting to know that you're not the first (or last) person on earth to ever feel this way when a significant relationship ends.

Anger (or the "how dare you leave me/what did you see in that other strumpet/did our love mean nothing" phase)

"How can I be reasonable? To me our love was everything and you were my whole life. It is not very pleasant to realise that to you it was only an episode."
- The Painted Veil, W Somerset Maugham

"You fit into me like a hook into an eye, a fish hook, an open eye."
- You Fit Into Me, Margaret Atwood

"Like some wines, our love could neither mature nor travel."
- The Comedians, Graham Greene

"The end of any history is a lie in which we all agree to conspire."
- The Robber Bride, Margaret Atwood

Grief (or the "how do I live without you" phase)

"Love was not something you made. Nor could you dispose of the stuff once manifested because it was inconvenient, or even because it was wicked and ruining your life, and by the by, someone else's."
- The Post-Birthday World, Lionel Shriver

"Your pain is the breaking of a shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand the sun, so must you know pain."
- On Pain, Kahlil Gibran

"Independence is the luxury of all those people who are too confident and busy and popular, and attractive, to just be plain old lonely. And make no mistake, lonely is the absolutely worst thing to be."
- Starter for Ten, David Nicholls

Irritation (or the "I have no desire to get back together with you" phase)

"I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken - and I'd rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived."
- Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

"I think you are wrong to want a heart. It makes most people unhappy. If you only knew it, you are in luck not to have a heart."
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Moving on (or the "hey, life goes on" phase)

"Once you decide not to worry about that stuff anymore, dating and relationships and love and all that, it's like you're free to get on with real life."
- One Day, David Nicholls

"Someday you'll find someone special again. People who have been in love once usually do. It's in their nature."
- Message in a Bottle, Nicholas Sparks

"If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business because we'd be so cynical: 'It's gonna go wrong', or 'she's going to hurt me', or 'I've had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore...' Well, that's nonsense. You're going to miss life. You've got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.
- Ray Bradbury

And finally, one of my favourite quotes of all time - by the inimitable Margaret Atwood. This is for anyone who has ever wished that they could turn back the clock and change the past so they never met a particular person.

"If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next - if you knew in advance the consequences of your own actions - you'd be doomed. You'd be ruined as god. You'd be a stone. You'd never eat or drink or laugh or get out of bed in the morning. You'd never love anyone ever again. You'd never dare to."
- The Blind Assassin

Which of these quotes is your favourite? Do you have any breakup wisdom of your own to share?

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