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The best writer of all times was Fjodor Dostojevski, and the best writer of our time is John Irving.

I know many will not agree with me. There are many other fine writers. There are even many other great writers. But none have the originality that John Irving has, and few are such great story tellers.

Of course the absolute master piece was The World According To Garp, where just one scene makes all pieces fall together, and suddenly everything in the book makes sense.

But just now, they were playing The Hotel New Hampshire on TV.
When I first saw this movie, now 20 years old, I must have been around 15.
What I mostly remember from that time is the scene where brother and sister are having sex to be free, which I found unimaginable.
This was Jodie Foster, about 5 years before she gained superstar status in The Accused. As always, she was playing a great role.

Now, looking back at it so much later, and after having seen it many times, what I find most amazing now is how great the young Jennifer Dundas Lowe is playing her fairytale-like character Lilly, the dwarf.
If you want to see what she looks like, this is a trailer of a more recent movie with her.

Also interesting to see is that many themes from John Irving's very first book Setting Free The Bears come back: Vienna, the bears, extremists.
And of course the eternal Irving themes are also there: His books are always about a writer, and you always find some strange sexual relationships.

I think this movie, just like much of John Irving's work, has been misunderstood by many people.
At first sight, you could think it is just vulgar sensation.
But when you can look through this, this is a beautiful fairytale with very deep hidden meanings.

Although some meanings are not so hidden. The most explicit message is: "Keep passing the open windows.". Without jumping down.

Which made me think: Wouldn't this be a good name for software?
Open Windows
Doing this, maybe you could get tons of money from Microsoft to change the name, just like Lindows.

Posted on Sunday, August 1, 2004 3:08 AM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Keep passing the open windows

# re: Keep passing the open windows
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Thanks for making things more clearer to me.. because currently i am using John Irving's Hotel New Hampshire for my novel term paper. It appeared to me that i really get confused with the characters especially when they utter the line, "keep passing the open windows." all through out i had tried to explain it to myself what does this line mean. And now i know why.. based on my own pespective of the novel, it only meant that whenever problem arises, most people would have a breakdown and later kill themselves. In this line, it only further explained that whenever we are stuck with this kind of problem,we should pass the open windows for further attempt of suicide.

Left by Lj on Mar 02, 2005 4:48 AM

# re: Keep passing the open windows
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yeah, i still don't understand it.
Left by isobel on Apr 25, 2005 6:03 PM

# re: Keep passing the open windows
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Lily is drawn to thoughts of suicide. The open windows high in the hotel beckon her, and she resists the urge to jump.
Simple. Survival equals passing the open windows.Don't stop to contemplate suicide, insist on being a moving target.

Your next Irving quotation {and Voice of the Beehive song}:"Sorrow floats"
Left by soubriquet on Nov 24, 2006 6:51 PM

# re: Keep passing the open windows
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I just saw this movie ... so lifting.. keep passing the open windows - don't give up keep on going or even this is all part of what life is and thou it's rough at times, it's F**KING wonderful for would we be who we are without all the troubles we go through.. keep passing the open windows - it's okay ;-)
Left by rainfly on Apr 06, 2007 2:16 AM

# re: Keep passing the open windows
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The phrase is explained by Freud as it is about a street performer who committed suicide by jumping from a window. This is why the phrase is so linked to Vienna and HNH2. So to keep passing the windows is to keep going/living.

Funny thing is I saw half of the film years ago and had no idea what it was. I could only recall that phrase. Last week I started reading HNH and suddenly got the idea (in chapter 1) that this might be connected (no idea why) a quick quotation search on IMDB proved me right.
Left by trev on Jul 03, 2007 2:39 PM

# re: Keep passing the open windows
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Is there an Irving novel that does not explore these themes: rites of passage; coming of age; odd characters; even odder sex; overcoming tragedy; finding truth; finding yourself; finding love? In short, the human condition.

'Keep passing the open windows' is such a powerful phrase. Something so simple that conjures up so much meaning. Not just don't commit suicide, but don't give up, fight for what you believe in, don't trade in self pity, follow your dream, don't live in fear.

The other implication in the phrase is that in order to pass them, we have to be aware that they are there. We cannot get to truth and light through ignorance - by pretending bad things don't happen.

We move on by experiencing life, good and bad, knowing the windows are there, even looking out, but making the choice to pass them by and live our lives. The ability to choose is part of life. Choosing life can be hard, but throwing it away is surely not the answer.

Left by barry on Nov 26, 2008 11:17 AM

# re: Keep passing the open windows
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I am a student reading Hotel New Hampshire, and first of all, I LOVE it. But all of your insight here has really helped me understand and appreciate Irving's message. Thank you.
Left by Kate on Jun 06, 2009 2:58 PM

# re: Keep passing the open windows
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Dont you think it might also mean to resist temptation? Not only the temptation of suicide,or "sorrow" but other things. Franny and John for instance?
Left by seeth on Aug 30, 2009 7:15 PM

# re: Keep passing the open windows
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it is about perseverance. whether it is in not committing suicide or if it is still going out and dealing. or resisting temptation . keep on passing the open windows means what it says , too, dont jump.
Left by babz on Aug 17, 2010 6:38 PM

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