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Literature Quotes


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The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and about all time.

The novel is a prose narrative of some length that has something wrong with it.

The selection of a subject is to the author what choice of position is to the general, - once skillfully determined, the battle is already half won. Of a few writers it may be said, that they are popular in despite of their subjects - but of a great many more, that they are popular because of them.

The short story is the art form that deals with the individual when there is no longer a society to absorb him, and when he is compelled to exist, as it were, by his own inner light.

The study of literature nourishes youth, entertains old age, adorns prosperity, solaces adversity, is delightful at home, and unobtrusive abroad.

The triumphs of the warrior are bounded by the narrow theater of his own age; but those of a Scott or a Shakespeare will be renewed with greater and greater luster in ages yet unborn, when the victorious chieftain shall be forgotten, or shall live only in the song of the minstrel and the page of the chronicler.

The universe is made up of stories, not of atoms.

The walls are the publishers of the poor.

There is such a thing as literary fashion, and prose and verse have been regulated by the same caprice that cuts our coats and cocks our hats.

There, is first, the literature of knowledge; and, secondly, the literature of power. The function of the first is, to teach; of the second is, to move; the first is a rudder, the second an oar or a sail. The first speaks to the mere discursive understanding; the second speaks ultimately to the higher understanding or reason, but always through affections of pleasure and sympathy.

To be a good diarist, one must have a little snouty, sneaky mind.

What is an epigram? A dwarfish whole, Its body brevity, and wit its soul.

When I read Shakespeare I am struck with wonder that such trivial people should muse and thunder in such lovely language.

When literature is the sole business of life, it becomes a drudgery. When we are able to resort to it only at certain hours, it is a charming relaxation. In my earlier days I was a banker's clerk, obliged to be at the desk every day from ten till five o'clock; and I shall never forget the delight with which, on returning home, I used to read and write during the evening.


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