All We Need of Hell: 9 Quotes on Parting in the Wake of Brexit

Last week an already troubled world fell further into turmoil with the announcement that the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union. So much remains uncertain — will Scotland’s Parliament be able to veto the measure? Will the filming of “Game of Thrones” be affected? Pretty much everyone from average citizens to Neil Gaiman seem to want a do-over, but for now we must imagine what’s done is done.

Since love is the universal language, the threat of separation is never far from our minds. Whether your tastes run more to Emily Dickinson (“Parting is all we know of heaven, And all we need of hell”) or Neil Sedaka (“Breaking up is hard to do“), you’ll no doubt hear your fears echoed and observations confirmed in the words of the following authors, who seem to know a thing or two about the exquisite strangeness of separation.

1. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1813
“They parted at last with mutual civility, and possibly a mutual desire of never meeting again.”

2. Mae West, Wit & Wisdom of Mae West, 1981
“All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.”

3. John Irving, A Widow for One Year, 1998
“It was one of those ridiculous arrangements that couples make when they are separating, but before they are divorced – when they still imagine that children and property can be shared with more magnanimity than recrimination.”

4. Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923
“And ever has it been that love knows not its depth until the hour of separation.”

5. Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin, 2000
“He loved her; in some ways he was devoted to her. But he couldn’t reach her, and it was the same on her side. It was as if they’d drunk some fatal potion that would keep them forever apart, even though they lived in the same house, ate at the same table, slept in the same bed.”

6. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned, 1922
“This is all. It’s been very rare to have known you, very strange and wonderful. But this wouldn’t do — and wouldn’t last.”

7. Junot Díaz, Drown, 1996
“I never wanted to be away from the family. Intuitively, I knew how easily distances could harden and become permanent.”

8. Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye, 1973
“To say goodbye is to die a little.”

9. Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847
“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you, – and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!”