Memorable Book Quotes Part 1
5 9.5 01. Lolita (Turtleback School & Library Binding ... - Vladimir Nabokov
"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for fancy prose style. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns."
"I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita."
"I have often noticed that we are inclined to endow our friends with the stability of type that literary characters acquire in the reader's mind. No matter how many times we reopen 'King Lear,' never shall we find the good king banging his tankard in high revelry, all woes forgotten, at a jolly reunion with all three daughters and their lapdogs. Never will Emma rally, revived by the sympathetic salts in Flaubert's father's timely tear. Whatever evolution this or that popular character has gone through between the book covers, his fate is fixed in our minds, and, similarly, we expect our friends to follow this or that logical and conventional pattern we have fixed for them. Thus X will never compose the immortal music that would clash with the second-rate symphonies he has accustomed us to. Y will never commit murder. Under no circumstances can Z ever betray us. We have it all arranged in our minds, and the less often we see a particular person, the more satisfying it is to check how obediently he conforms to our notion of him every time we hear of him. Any deviation in the fates we have ordained would strike us as not only anomalous but unethical. We could prefer not to have known at all our neighbor, the retired hot-dog stand operator, if it turns out he has just produced the greatest book of poetry his age has seen."
"I recall certain moments, let us call them icebergs in paradise, when after having had my fill of her –after fabulous, insane exertions that left me limp and azure-barred–I would gather her in my arms with, at last, a mute moan of human tenderness (her skin glistening in the neon light coming from the paved court through the slits in the blind, her soot-black lashes matted, her grave gray eyes more vacant than ever–for all the world a little patient still in the confusion of a drug after a major operation)–and the tenderness would deepen to shame and despair, and I would lull and rock my lone light Lolita in my marble arms, and moan in her warm hair, and caress her at random and mutely ask her blessing, and at the peak of this human agonized selfless tenderness (with my soul actually hanging around her naked body and ready to repent), all at once, ironically, horribly, lust would swell again–and 'oh, no,' Lolita would say with a sigh to heaven, and the next moment the tenderness and the azure–all would be shattered."
10 10 02. Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle - Vladimir Nabokov
"An individual's life consisted of certain classified things: 'real things' which were unfrequent and priceless, simply 'things' which formed the routine stuff of life; and 'ghost things,' also called 'fogs,' such as fever, toothache, dreadful disappointments, and death. Three or more things occurring at the same time formed a 'tower,' or, if they came in immediate succession, they made a 'bridge.' 'Real towers' and 'real bridges' were the joys of life, and when the towers came in a series, one experienced supreme rapture; it almost never happened, though. In some circumstances, in a certain light, a neutral 'thing' might look or even actually become 'real' or else, conversely, it might coagulate into a fetid 'fog.' When the joy and the joyless happened to be intermixed, simultaneously or along the ramp of duration, one was confronted with 'ruined towers' and 'broken bridges.'"
13 7.7 03. Invitation to a Beheading - Vladimir Nabokov
"'Measure me while I live--after it will be too late.'"
"...all my best words are deserters and do not answer the trumpet call, and the remainder are cripples."
5 7.7 04. Little, Big - John Crowley
"The further in you go, the bigger it gets."
"The things that make us happy make us wise."
"'Love is a myth.'
'Love is a myth,' Grandfather Trout said. 'Like summer.'
'In winter,' Grandfather Trout said, 'summer is a myth. A report, a rumor. Not to be believed in. Get it? Love is a myth. So is summer.'"
4 10 05. As You Like It - William Shakespeare
"'Sell when you can: you are not for all markets'"
"'A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.'"
7 9.6 06. Shakespeare's Sonnets and Poems (The New Fol... - William Shakespeare
"'Make thee another self for love of thee
That beauty still may live in thine or thee'"
"'in black ink my love shall shine bright'"
"'Why should we rise because 'tis light?
Did we lie down because 'twas night?'"
"'Die single and thine image dies with thee'"
"'Where wasteful Time debateth with decay
To change your day of youth to sullied night,
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new'"
"'So long as men can breath, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee'"
51 8 07. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
"'Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia'"
"'To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd!'"
"'Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.'"
"'There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.'"
"'There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'"
"'The Play's the Thing, wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.'"
441 7.6 08. Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare
"'O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.'"
"'Love moderately. Long love doth so.
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.'"
"'Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.'"
"'A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.'"
4 10 09. The Death of Virgil (Vintage International) - Hermann Broch
"...in the intoxication of falling, man was prone to believe himself propelled upward."
"Orpheus chose to be the leader of mankind. Ah, not even Orpheus had attained such a goal, not even his immortal greatness had justified such vain and presumptuous dreams of grandeur, such flagrant overestimation of poetry! Certainly many instances of earthly beauty--a song, the twilit sea, the tone of the lyre, the voice of a boy, a verse, a statue, a column, a garden, a single flower--all possess the divine faculty of making man hearken unto the innermost and outermost boundaries of his existence, and therefore it is not to be wondered at that the lofty art of Orpheus was esteemed to have the power of diverting the streams from their beds and changing their courses, of luring the wild beasts of the forest with tender dominance, of arresting the cattle a-browse upon the meadows and moving them to listen, caught in the dream and enchanted, the dreamwish of all art: the world compelled to listen, ready to receive the song and its salvation. However, even had Orpheus achieved his aim, the help lasts no longer than the song, nor does the listening, and on no account might the song resound too long, otherwise the streams would return to their old courses, the wild beasts of the forest would again fall upon and slay the innocent beasts of the field, and man would revert again to his old, habitual cruelty; for not only did no intoxication last long, and this was likewise true of beauty's spell, but furthermore, the mildness to which men and beasts had yielded was only half of the intoxication of beauty, while the other half, not less strong and for the most part far stronger, was of such surpassing and terrible cruelty--the most cruel of men delights himself with a flower--that beauty, and before all the beauty born of art, failed quickly of its effect if in disregard of the reciprocal balance of its two components it approached man with but one of them."
"He knew of the innermost danger of all artists, he knew the utter loneliness of the man destined to be an artist, he knew the inherent loneliness which drove such a one into the still deeper loneliness of art and into the beauty that cannot be articulated, and he knew that for the most part such men were shattered by this immolation, that it made them blind, blind to the world, blind to the divine quality in the world and in the fellow-man, that--intoxicated by their loneliness--they were able to see only their own god-likeness, which they imagined to be unique, and consequently this self-idolatry and its greed for recognition came more and more to be the sole content of their work--, a betrayal of the divine as well as of art, because in this fashion the work of art became a work of un-art, an unchaste covering for artistic vanity, so spurious that even the artist's self-complacent nakedness which it exposed became a mask; and even though such unchaste self-gratification, such dalliance with beauty, such concern with effects, even though such an un-art might, despite its brief unrenewable grant, its inextensible boundaries, find an easier way to the populace than real art ever found, it was only a specious way, a way out of the loneliness, but not, however, an affiliation with the human community, which was the aim of real art in its aspiration toward humanity, no, it was the affiliation with the mob, it was a participation in its treacherous non-community, which was incapable of the pledge, which neither created nor mastered any reality, and which was unwilling to do so, preferring only to drowse on, forgetting reality, having forfeited it as had un-art and literarity, this was the most profound danger for every artist; oh how painfully, how very painfully he knew this."
34 9.5 010. The Book of Disquiet - Fernando Pessoa
"A dawning in the country does me good; a dawning in the city good and bad, and so it does me more than just good. Yes, because the greater hope it stirs in me has, like all hopes, that slightly bitter, nostalgic taste of not being reality. The country morning exists; the city morning promises. The former makes one live; the latter makes one think."
"I've always rejected being understood. To be understood is to prostitute oneself. I prefer to be taken seriously for what I'm not, remaining humanly unknown, with naturalness and all due respect."
"To say! To know how to say! To know how to exist via the written voice and the intellectual image! This is all that matters in life; the rest is men and women, imagined loves and factitious vanities, the wiles of our digestion and forgetfulness, people squirming--like worms when a rock is lifted--under the huge abstract boulder of the meaningless blue sky."
"I'm astounded whenever I finish something. Astounded and distressed. My perfectionist instinct should inhibit me from finishing: it should inhibit me from even beginning. But I get distracted and start doing something. What I achieve is not the product of an act of my will but of my will's surrender. I begin because I don't have the strength to think; I finish because I don't have the courage to quit. This book is my cowardice."
"I'd like to write the encomium of a new incoherence that could serve as the negative charter for the new anarchy of souls."
"The perfect man, for the pagans, was the perfection of the man that exists; for Christians, the perfection of the man that does not exist; and for Buddhists, the perfection of no man existing."
"Solitude devastates me; company oppresses me. The presence of another person derails my thoughts; I dream of the other's presence with a strange absent-mindedness that no amount of my analytical scrutiny can define."
"Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life."
6 9.5 011. Swann's Way: In Search of Lost Time, Vol. 1 ... - Marcel Proust
"Words present us with little pictures, clear and familiar, like those that are hung on the walls of schools to give children an example of what a workbench is, a bird, an anthill, things conceived of as similar to all others of the same sort. But names present a confused image of people--and of towns, which they accustom us to believe are individual, unique like people--an image which derives from them, from the brightness or darkness of their tone, the color with which it is painted uniformly, like one of those posters, entirely blue or entirely red, in which, because of the limitations of the process used or by a whim of the designer, not only the sky and the sea are blue or red, but the boats, the church, the people in the streets."
"In his younger days a man dreams of possessing the heart of the woman whom he loves; later, the feeling that he possesses the heart of a woman may be enough to make him fall in love with her."
66 8.1 012. Moby-Dick or, The Whale - Herman Melville
"Call me Ishmael."
"Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian."
"'Who ain’t a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about--however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way--either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other’s shoulder-blades, and be content.'"
"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can."
"Ah, happiness courts the light so we deem the world is gay. But misery hides aloof so we deem that misery there is none."
"'...Hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple-dumpling.'"
95 7.7 013. To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
"They neither work nor weep; in their shape is their reason."
3 9 014. The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens - Wallace Stevens
"Of Modern Poetry"
"The poem of the mind in the act of finding
What will suffice. It has not always had
To find: the scene was set; it repeated what
Was in the script.
Then the theatre was changed
To something else. Its past was a souvenir.
It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.
It has to face the men of the time and to meet
The women of the time. It has to think about war
And it has to find what will suffice. It has
To construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage,
And, like an insatiable actor, slowly and
With meditation, speak words that in the ear,
In the delicatest ear of the mind, repeat,
Exactly, that which it wants to hear, at the sound
Of which, an invisible audience listens,
Not to the play, but to itself, expressed
In an emotion as of two people, as of two
Emotions becoming one. The actor is
A metaphysician in the dark, twanging
An instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives
Sounds passing through sudden rightnesses, wholly
Containing the mind, below which it cannot descend,
Beyond which it has no will to rise.
Be the finding of a satisfaction, and may
Be of a man skating, a woman dancing, a woman
Combing. The poem of the act of the mind."
Excerpt from "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know."
Excerpt from "The Man with the Blue Guitar"
"That generation's dream, aviled
In the mud, in Monday's dirty light,
That's it, the only dream they knew,
Time in its final block, not time
To come, a wrangling of two dreams.
Here is the bread of time to come,
Here is its actual stone. The bread
Will be our bread, the stone will be
Our bed and we shall sleep by night.
We shall forget by day, except
The moments when we choose to play
The imagined pine, the imagined jay."
5 10 015. Rimbaud Complete (Modern Library Classics) - Arthur Rimbaud
"Man of ordinary make, flesh
was it not once a fruit hanging in the orchard--o
days of youth! the body a treasure to squander--o
to love, a peril or power of the Psyche? Earth
had slopes fertile with princes and artists,
and your descendants and race drove you
to crimes and to mourning: the world, your fortune
and your peril. But now, this work done, you, your calculations,
--you, your impatience--are but dance and
voice, neither fixed nor forced, whether season
for a double event: invention and success
--a humanity both brotherly and singular, throughout a universe
without a face--might and right reflecting both dance
and voice, a voice we're only beginning to hear."
Excerpt from "Advt."
"For sale: Bodies; voices; incalculable, inarguable riches--that will never be sold. Vendors keep selling! Salesmen have nothing but time."
Excerpt from "Common Nocturne"
"A breath of air and hearths are sundered."
Excerpt from "For a Reason"
"Arrival from always, for departure to everywhere."
Excerpt from "Childhood"
A bird is in these woods, its song stops you, makes you blush.
And here's a clock that will not chime.
And here's a pit with a nest of white beasts.
And here's a cathedral that sinks, and a lake that rises.
And here's a little carriage abandoned in a thicket, or that rolls beribboned down the road.
And here's a troupe of little actors in costume, spied on the edge of the woods.
And when your hungry and thirsty, here's someone to chase you away."
4 7 016. The Soul of Man Under Socialism - Oscar Wilde
"The moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or a dishonest tradesman. He has no further claim to be considered as an artist. Art is the most intense mode of Individualism that the world has known. I am inclined to say that it is the only real mode of Individualism the world has ever known."
"In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. The last is much the worst--the last is a real tragedy."
"I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing."
"Men know life to early; women know life too late--that is the difference between men and women."
"He who stands most remote from his age is he who mirrors it best."
2 9 017. A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Claman... - Edward Abbey
"Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others."
"If wilderness is outlawed, only outlaws can save wilderness."
"God is a sound people make when they're too tired to think anymore."
8 7.5 018. Justine (Alexandria Quartet) - Lawrence Durrell
"'Every man is made of clay and daimon, and no woman can nourish both.'"
4 8 019. Some of the Dharma - Jack Kerouac
"Warm golden thighs produce cold black mornings..."
"I am an appearance
The world is an appearance
The bread I eat is an appearance
All wish't forth from Mind Essence
Due to Ignorance--
I don't have to exist
I don't exist, I do exist--
For the purposes of this world
Or do everything anyhow."
"'I bent down
My face hit a fly'"
"I wanta go to Tangiers, I want girls, I
wanta write the biggest book in the world,
I want spring to come, I want, I want--
Wanting, I get; getting, I lose; losing, I
suffer; suffering, I die--
NOT WANTING, I DON'T GET
NOT GETTING, I DON'T LOSE
NOT LOSING, I DON'T SUFFER
NOT SUFFERING, I DON'T DIE SUFFERING"
That's only a name, remove my name.
Stand me there. Remove my clothes.
Naked I came from nothing and naked I return to nothing.
Call me That
That's only a name, remove the name.
Stand him there. Remove his clothes.
Naked he came from nothing and naked he returns to nothing.
Why should that hate this, or this hate that?
Standin there with arms hangin, bleak--"
73 8.1 020. The Dharma Bums - Jack Kerouac
"Everything was fine with the Zen Lunatics, the nut wagon was too far away to hear us. But there was a wisdom in it all, as you'll see if you take a walk some night on a suburban street and pass house after house on both sides of the street each with the lamplight of the living room, shining golden, and inside the little blue square of the television, each living family riveting its attention on probably one show; nobody talking; silence in the yards; dogs barking at you because you pass on human feet instead of on wheels. You'll see what I mean, when it begins to appear like everybody in the world is soon going to be thinking the same way and the Zen Lunatics have long joined dust, laughter on their dust lips."
"Under the stars I'd be dozing crosslegged under my tree and in my half-asleep mind I'd be saying 'Moab? Who is Moab?' and I'd wake up with a burr in my hand, a cotton burr off one of the dogs. So, awake, I'd make thoughts like 'It's all different appearances of the same thing, my drowsiness, the burr, Moab, all one ephemeral dream. All belongs to the same emptiness, glory be!' Then I'd run these words through my mind to train myself: 'I am emptiness, I am not different from emptiness, neither is emptiness different from me; indeed, emptiness is me.' There'd be a puddle of water with a star shining in it, I'd spit in the puddle, the star would be obliterated, I'd say 'That star is real?'"
5 6.5 021. The Stories of John Cheever - John Cheever
"He experienced in his consciousness that moment when music breaks glass"
79 7.5 022. The Art of War - Sun Tzu
"Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical."
3 9 023. The Dream Songs - John Berryman
"Dream Song 14"
"Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) 'Ever to confess you're bored
means you have no
Inner Resources.' I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as Achilles,
who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into the mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag."
Excerpt from "Dream Song 221"
"If the blood banged, as it must do, faint
with necessity, forgive it, please. 'I paint'
(Renoir said) 'with my penis.'
A picture in Philadelphia proves it. Pal,
in wars & loves when we lost ground, how shall
we know who it means?"
4 9 024. Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness - Bob Kaufman
Excerpt from "Abomunist Manifesto"
"Abomunists reject everything except snowmen"
Excerpt from "Bagel Shop Jazz"
"Coffee-faced Ivy Leaguers, in Cambridge jackets,
Whose personal Harvard was a Fillmore district step,
Weighted down with conga drums,
The ancestral cross, the Othello-laid curse,
Talking of Bird and Diz and Miles,
The secret terrible hurts,
Wrapped in cool hipster smiles,
Telling themselves, under the talk,
This shot must be the end,
Hoping the beat is really the truth.
The guilty police arrive.
Brief, beautiful shadows, burned on walls of night."
3 9 025. Roughing It (Signet Classics) - Mark Twain
"It is said, in this country, that if a man can arrange his religion so that it perfectly satisfies his conscience, it is not incumbent upon him to care whether the arrangement is satisfactory to anyone else or not."
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