Quotes about literature

A collection of quotes on the topic of literature, can, art, other.

Best quotes about literature

Amos Oz photo

„The best way to know the soul of another country is to read its literature.“

—  Amos Oz Israeli writer, novelist, journalist and intellectual 1939 - 2018

Fernando Pessoa photo

„Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.“

—  Fernando Pessoa, book The Book of Disquiet

A literatura é a maneira mais agradável de ignorar a vida.
Variant: To write is to forget. Literature is the pleasantest way of ignoring life.
Source: The Book of Disquietude, trans. Richard Zenith, text 116

Chinua Achebe photo

„My weapon is literature“

—  Chinua Achebe Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic 1930 - 2013

Cassandra Clare photo

„Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.“

—  Cassandra Clare, book Clockwork Angel

Source: Clockwork Angel

Benjamin Disraeli photo

„You know who critics are?— the men who have failed in literature and art.“

—  Benjamin Disraeli British Conservative politician, writer, aristocrat and Prime Minister 1804 - 1881

Source: Books, Coningsby (1844), Lothair (1870), Ch. 35. Compare: "Reviewers are usually people who would have been poets, historians, biographers, if they could; they have tried their talents at one or the other, and have failed; therefore they turn critics", Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton, p. 36. Delivered 1811–1812; "Reviewers, with some rare exceptions, are a most stupid and malignant race. As a bankrupt thief turns thief-taker in despair, so an unsuccessful author turns critic", Percy Bysshe Shelley, Fragments of Adonais.

Pramoedya Ananta Toer photo
Vladimir Nabokov photo

„Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.“

—  Vladimir Nabokov Russian-American novelist, lepidopterist, professor 1899 - 1977

Witold Gombrowicz photo
Franz Kafka photo
Charles Bukowski photo

All quotes about literature

Total 1144 quotes literature, filter:

Arthur Conan Doyle photo
Eleanor Roosevelt photo
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn photo
Fernando Pessoa photo
Arundhati Roy photo
Thomas Sowell photo
Charles-Augustin de Coulomb photo

„On graduating from the school, a studious young man who would withstand the tedium and monotony of his duties has no choice but to lose himself in some branch of science or literature completely irrelevant to his assignment.“

—  Charles-Augustin de Coulomb French physicist 1736 - 1806

as quoted by [C. Stewart Gillmor, Coulomb and the Evolution of Physics and Engineering in Eighteenth-century France, Princeton University Press, 1971, 069108095X, 255-261]

Andrea Dworkin photo
John Galt (novelist) photo

„This work is not for the many; but in the unconscious, perfectly natural, irony of self-delusion, in all parts intelligible to the intelligent reader, without the slightest suspicion on the part of the autobiographer, I know of no equal in our literature…This and The Entail would alone suffice to place Galt in the first rank of contemporary novelists.“

—  John Galt (novelist) British writer 1779 - 1839

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, manuscript note written in his copy of The Provost; cited from Thomas Middleton Raysor (ed.) Coleridge's Miscellaneous Criticism (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1936), p. 344.
Criticism

E.M. Forster photo
Borís Pasternak photo
Flannery O’Connor photo

„I come from a family where the only emotion respectable to show is irritation. In some this tendency produces hives, in others literature, in me both.“

—  Flannery O’Connor American novelist, short story writer 1925 - 1964

Source: The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor

Lynn Margulis photo
Gary Snyder photo
André Breton photo

„Keep reminding yourself that literature is one of the saddest roads that leads to everything.“

—  André Breton French writer 1896 - 1966

Le Manifeste du Surréalisme, Andre Breton (Manifesto of Surrealism; 1924)
Context: After you have settled yourself in a place as favorable as possible to the concentration of your mind upon itself, have writing materials brought to you. Put yourself in as passive, or receptive, a state of mind as you can. Forget about your genius, your talents, and the talents of everyone else. Keep reminding yourself that literature is one of the saddest roads that lead to everything. Write quickly, without any preconceived subject, fast enough so that you will not remember what you're writing and be tempted to reread what you have written. The first sentence will come spontaneously, so compelling is the truth that with every passing second there is a sentence unknown to our consciousness which is only crying out to be heard.

Richard Dawkins photo

„It has become almost a cliché to remark that nobody boasts of ignorance of literature, but it is socially acceptable to boast ignorance of science and proudly claim incompetence in mathematics.“

—  Richard Dawkins English ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author 1941

The Richard Dimbleby Lecture: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder (1996)

Henry Miller photo
Sei Shonagon photo
Virginia Woolf photo
Shiing-Shen Chern photo
Alice A. Bailey photo
James Burke (science historian) photo

„So, in the end, have we learned anything from this look at why the world turned out the way it is, that's of any use to us in our future? Something, I think. That the key to why things change is the key to everything. How easy is it for knowledge to spread? And that, in the past, the people who made change happen, were the people who had that knowledge, whether they were craftsmen, or kings. Today, the people who make things change, the people who have that knowledge, are the scientists and the technologists, who are the true driving force of humanity. And before you say what about the Beethovens and the Michelangelos? Let me suggest something with which you may disagree violently: that at best, the products of human emotion, art, philosophy, politics, music, literature, are interpretations of the world, that tell you more about the guy who's talking, than about the world he's talking about. Second hand views of the world, made third hand by your interpretation of them. Things like that [art book] as opposed to this [transparency of some filaments]. Know what it is? It's a bunch of amino acids, the stuff that goes to build up a worm, or a geranium, or you. This stuff [art book] is easier to take, isn't it? Understandable. Got people in it. This, [transparency] scientific knowledge is hard to take, because it removes the reassuring crutches of opinion, ideology, and leaves only what is demonstrably true about the world. And the reason why so many people may be thinking about throwing away those crutches is because thanks to science and technology they have begun to know that they don't know so much. And that, if they are to have more say in what happens to their lives, more freedom to develop their abilities to the full, they have to be helped towards that knowledge, that they know exists, and that they don't possess. And by helped towards that knowledge I don't mean give everybody a computer and say: help yourself. Where would you even start? No, I mean trying to find ways to translate the knowledge. To teach us to ask the right questions. See, we're on the edge of a revolution in communications technology that is going to make that more possible than ever before. Or, if that’s not done, to cause an explosion of knowledge that will leave those of us who don't have access to it, as powerless as if we were deaf, dumb and blind. And I don't think most people want that. So, what do we do about it? I don't know. But maybe a good start would be to recognize within yourself the ability to understand anything. Because that ability is there, as long as it is explained clearly enough. And then go and ask for explanations. And if you're thinking, right now, what do I ask for? Ask yourself, if there is anything in your life that you want changed. That's where to start.“

—  James Burke (science historian) British broadcaster, science historian, author, and television producer 1936

Connections (1979), 10 - Yesterday, Tomorrow and You

Augustin Louis Cauchy photo
Michael J. Behe photo
George Steiner photo
Nicholas Murray Butler photo
Michel Danino photo
Monte Melkonian photo
Stig Dagerman photo
Northrop Frye photo
Jadunath Sarkar photo
Mortimer J. Adler photo
Max Scheler photo

„There are two fundamentally different ways for the strong to bend down to the weak, for the rich to help the poor, for the more perfect life to help the “less perfect.” This action can be motivated by a powerful feeling of security, strength, and inner salvation, of the invincible fullness of one’s own life and existence. All this unites into the clear awareness that one is rich enough to share one’s being and possessions. Love, sacrifice, help, the descent to the small and the weak, here spring from a spontaneous overflow of force, accompanied by bliss and deep inner calm. Compared to this natural readiness for love and sacrifice, all specific “egoism,” the concern for oneself and one’s interest, and even the instinct of “self-preservation” are signs of a blocked and weakened life. Life is essentially expansion, development, growth in plenitude, and not “self-preservation,” as a false doctrine has it. Development, expansion, and growth are not epiphenomena of mere preservative forces and cannot be reduced to the preservation of the “better adapted.” … There is a form of sacrifice which is a free renunciation of one’s own vital abundance, a beautiful and natural overflow of one’s forces. Every living being has a natural instinct of sympathy for other living beings, which increases with their proximity and similarity to himself. Thus we sacrifice ourselves for beings with whom we feel united and solidary, in contrast to everything “dead.” This sacrificial impulse is by no means a later acquisition of life, derived from originally egoistic urges. It is an original component of life and precedes all those particular “aims” and “goals” which calculation, intelligence, and reflection impose upon it later. We have an urge to sacrifice before we ever know why, for what, and for whom! Jesus’ view of nature and life, which sometimes shines through his speeches and parables in fragments and hidden allusions, shows quite clearly that he understood this fact. When he tells us not to worry about eating and drinking, it is not because he is indifferent to life and its preservation, but because he sees also a vital weakness in all “worrying” about the next day, in all concentration on one’s own physical well-being. … all voluntary concentration on one’s own bodily wellbeing, all worry and anxiety, hampers rather than furthers the creative force which instinctively and beneficently governs all life. … This kind of indifference to the external means of life (food, clothing, etc.) is not a sign of indifference to life and its value, but rather of a profound and secret confidence in life’s own vigor and of an inner security from the mechanical accidents which may befall it. A gay, light, bold, knightly indifference to external circumstances, drawn from the depth of life itself—that is the feeling which inspires these words! Egoism and fear of death are signs of a declining, sick, and broken life. …
This attitude is completely different from that of recent modern realism in art and literature, the exposure of social misery, the description of little people, the wallowing in the morbid—a typical ressentiment phenomenon. Those people saw something bug-like in everything that lives, whereas Francis sees the holiness of “life” even in a bug.“

—  Max Scheler German philosopher 1874 - 1928

Source: Das Ressentiment im Aufbau der Moralen (1912), L. Coser, trans. (1961), pp. 88-92

G. K. Chesterton photo

„I cannot understand the people who take literature seriously; but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this book.“

—  G. K. Chesterton, book All Things Considered

"The Case for the Ephemeral"
All Things Considered (1908)
Context: I cannot understand the people who take literature seriously; but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this book. It is a collection of crude and shapeless papers upon current or rather flying subjects; and they must be published pretty much as they stand. They were written, as a rule, at the last moment; they were handed in the moment before it was too late, and I do not think that our commonwealth would have been shaken to its foundations if they had been handed in the moment after. They must go out now, with all their imperfections on their head, or rather on mine; for their vices are too vital to be improved with a blue pencil, or with anything I can think of, except dynamite.
Their chief vice is that so many of them are very serious; because I had no time to make them flippant. It is so easy to be solemn; it is so hard to be frivolous.

Arthur Schopenhauer photo

„According to me, the influence of Sanskrit literature on our time will not be lesser than what was in the 16th century Greece's influence on Renaissance. One day, India's wisdom will flow again on Europe and will totally transform our knowledge and thought.“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer, book The World as Will and Representation

preface of his The World as Will and Representation., quoted in Londhe, S. (2008). A tribute to Hinduism: Thoughts and wisdom spanning continents and time about India and her culture. New Delhi: Pragun Publication.
The World as Will and Representation (1819; 1844; 1859)

Doris Lessing photo
Jonathan Stroud photo
Lawrence Durrell photo

„There are only three things to be done with a woman. You can love her, suffer for her, or turn her into literature.“

—  Lawrence Durrell, book Justine

Source: The Alexandria Quartet (1957–1960), Justine (1957)

James Baldwin photo
Leo Tolstoy photo
Roger Ebert photo
Anthony Powell photo
Charlotte Perkins Gilman photo

„Through it [literature] we know the past, govern the present, and influence the future.“

—  Charlotte Perkins Gilman American feminist, writer, commercial artist, lecturer and social reformer 1860 - 1935

Source: The Man-Made World

Carlos Ruiz Zafón photo
Virginia Woolf photo
Joseph Heller photo
Orson Scott Card photo
Stephen Fry photo

„Literature is the only access to truth we have on this planet.“

—  Stephen Fry English comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and activist 1957

Susan Sontag photo

„Literature was freedom. Especially in a time in which the values of reading and inwardness are so strenuously challenged, literature is freedom.“

—  Susan Sontag American writer and filmmaker, professor, and activist 1933 - 2004

Frankfurt Book Fair speech (2003)
Context: To have access to literature, world literature, was to escape the prison of national vanity, of philistinism, of compulsory provincialism, of inane schooling, of imperfect destinies and bad luck. Literature was the passport to enter a larger life; that is, the zone of freedom.
Literature was freedom. Especially in a time in which the values of reading and inwardness are so strenuously challenged, literature is freedom.

Margaret Atwood photo
Richard Wright photo

„All literature is protest.“

—  Richard Wright African-American writer 1908 - 1960

Roland Barthes photo
T.S. Eliot photo

„Hardly anyone about whom I deeply care at all resembles anyone else I have ever met, or heard of, or read about in literature.“

—  Renata Adler American author, journalist and film critic 1938

Source: Speedboat

Virginia Woolf photo

„Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.“

—  Virginia Woolf, book A Room of One's Own

Source: A Room of One's Own (1929), Ch. 3, p. 58

Pat Conroy photo
John Cheever photo

„Literature has been the salvation of the damned, literature has inspired and guided lovers, routed despair and can perhaps in this case save the world.“

—  John Cheever American novelist and short story writer 1912 - 1982

Entry in his journal before his last public appearance, the ceremony at which he received the National Medal for Literature, quoted by Susan Cheever, Home before Dark Houghton Mifflin (1984).

Orhan Pamuk photo

„Painting taught literature to describe.“

—  Orhan Pamuk Turkish novelist, screenwriter, and Nobel Prize in Literature recipient 1952

Northrop Frye photo
Raymond Chandler photo
John Scalzi photo
Michel Houellebecq photo
Sarah Waters photo
Oprah Winfrey photo

„If you're going to binge, literature is definitely the way to do it.“

—  Oprah Winfrey American businesswoman, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist 1954

Helen Keller photo
Anaïs Nin photo
George Bernard Shaw photo
Oscar Wilde photo
Ernest Hemingway photo
Terry Pratchett photo
Gustave Flaubert photo
Philip Roth photo
T.S. Eliot photo

„The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.“

—  T.S. Eliot 20th century English author 1888 - 1965

Jonathan Ames photo
Christopher Hitchens photo
Michael Cunningham photo
Julian Barnes photo
Stephen R. Covey photo

„There's no better way to inform and expand you mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good literature.“

—  Stephen R. Covey, book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Source: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Joris-Karl Huysmans photo
Aldous Huxley photo
Samuel Butler photo

„Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.“

—  Samuel Butler, book The Way of All Flesh

Source: The Way of All Flesh (1903), Ch. 14
Context: Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself, and the more he tries to conceal himself the more clearly will his character appear in spite of him.

Jorge Luis Borges photo

„Literature is not exhaustible, for the sufficient and simple reason that a single book is not. A book is not an isolated entity: it is a narration, an axis of innumerable narrations. One literature differs from another, either before or after it, not so much because of the text as for the manner in which it is read.“

—  Jorge Luis Borges, book Other Inquisitions

"Note on (toward) Bernard Shaw"
Variant translation: A book is not an autonomous entity: it is a relation, an axis of innumerable relations. One literature differs from another, be it earlier or later, not because of the texts but because of the way they are read: if I could read any page from the present time — this one, for instance — as it will be read in the year 2000, I would know what the literature of the year 2000 would be like.
Other Inquisitions (1952)

Gene Wolfe photo
Jean Cocteau photo

„The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order.“

—  Jean Cocteau French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager and filmmaker 1889 - 1963

Source: Le Potomak : Précédé d'un Prospectus 1916

Mario Vargas Llosa photo
Jonathan Safran Foer photo
Don DeLillo photo
Laurie Anderson photo
Raymond Carver photo
Lois Lowry photo
Cyril Connolly photo

„While thoughts exist, words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living.“

—  Cyril Connolly British author 1903 - 1974

Source: The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus

Mortimer J. Adler photo

„Imaginative literature primarily pleases rather than teaches. It is much easier to be pleased than taught, but much harder to know why one is pleased. Beauty is harder to analyze than truth.“

—  Mortimer J. Adler American philosopher and educator 1902 - 2001

Source: How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

F. Scott Fitzgerald photo