NYPL Picks Famous Literary Breakup Lines

The New York Public Library asked its staff to suggest famous breakup lines from literary sources. This is on the occasion of the anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize awarded to Gone with the Wind where Rhett Butler left Scarlett O’Hara on her doorstep with the now classic “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” The “frankly” was, according to the NYPL source, added for the film version. 

Evelyn Waugh makes an appearance with some parting lines of Adam and Nina in Vile Bodies:

“I say, Nina,” said Adam after some time, “we shan’t be able to get married after all.”

“No, I’m afraid not.”

“It is a bore, isn’t it?”

(Penguin, 1975, p. 83). This was suggested by Meredith Mann of the NYPL’s Electronic Resources Department who described it as an example of “blasé gentility”. There are, however, several other equally poignant breakups between Adam and Nina yet to come in the novel. For example, on pp. 183-84 where in the course of two telephone conversations each breaks up with the other and on p. 197 where Adam tells her he’s done something extraordinary and won’t be able to see her again. As he explains, he sold her to his rival Ginger Littlejohn for £78.16.3 to settle his hotel bill. At the time Waugh wrote these lines,  he was rather obsessed with breakups because he had learned that his first wife had dumped him about half way through the book.  



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