“I dig old books.”
Quotations about Literature
The Literature of Man...
When once the itch of literature comes over a man, nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen. But if you have not a pen, I suppose you must scratch any way you can. ~Samuel Lover, Handy Andy, 1842
Every man's memory is his private literature. ~Aldous Huxley
To literature belongs the mighty privilege of embalming, for all ages, the departed kings of intellect. There they repose within the eternal pyramids of their fame. ~Robert Aris Willmott, "Glimpses of the Pageant of Literature," c.1844
What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote. ~E.M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy, 1951
There is a certain class of men in almost every community, who take pleasure in sneering at those who follow literature as a profession.... They look upon the man of letters as one prone to build airy castles, continually longing for pleasures which can never be realized, or as a mere day-dreamer. They think it would be better if all men were mechanics, or merchants, or farmers, and that man was made to plod through life with no higher aim than to satisfy his sensual desires! How foolish, how despicable are such ideas. ~Charles Lanman, "Thoughts on Literature," 1840
The thing that teases the mind over and over for years, and at last gets itself put down rightly on paper — whether little or great, it belongs to Literature. ~Sarah Orne Jewett, letter to Willa Cather
The literary man mostly lives in company with the mighty spirits of the past, and the beings of his own mind. True, he studies the human heart in his daily walks, but the greater part of his knowledge is gathered from the past, and from thence his mind reaches forward into futurity, so that the field over which his soul may roam in search of wisdom is boundless as the universe. ~Charles Lanman, "Thoughts on Literature," 1840
Books talk to you for an afternoon.
Literature speaks for generations.
I doubt if anything learnt at school is of more value than great literature learnt by heart. ~Richard Livingstone
What a sense of security in an old book which time has criticized for us! ~James Russell Lowell
The duty of literature is to note what counts, and to light up what is suited to the light. If it ceases to choose and to love, it becomes like a woman who gives herself without preference. ~Anatole France
The object of literature is to make man a wiser and happier being. The poet makes us happy because he tells us how we may become so. ~Charles Lanman, "Thoughts on Literature," 1840
[L]iterature is the record of the best thoughts. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, address at the opening of the Concord Free Public Library
Literature, along with all other forms of fine art, is the product of the soul's effort to realize in consciousness its ideal and true self.... the experience the soul has with itself in striving for the realization of its own true worth.... Thus literature is life primarily, and not form. The form is only the manifestation of the life. ~Arnold Tompkins, "The Nature of Literature," c.1896
When you re-read a classic you do not see in the book more than you did before. You see more in you than there was before. ~Clifton Fadiman
For me, literature is a form of play. But I've always added that there are two forms of play: football, for example, which is basically a game, and then games that are very profound and serious. When children play, though they're amusing themselves, they take it very seriously. It's important. It's just as serious for them now as love will be ten years from now. I remember when I was little and my parents used to say, "Okay, you've played enough, come take a bath now." I found that completely idiotic, because, for me, the bath was a silly matter. It had no importance whatsoever, while playing with my friends was something serious. Literature is like that—it's a game, but it's a game one can put one's life into. One can do everything for that game. ~Julio Cortázar (1914–1984), interview with Jason Weiss, "The Art of Fiction No. 83," The Paris Review, Fall 1984
Essays are vegetables
in the garden of literature,
fairy tales the orchard fruit,
poetry — the flowers.
~Terri Guillemets, "Reading in the Garden," 2009
[L]iterature is only a part of the great whole—the soul's being—a single form of its development, and one among the thousand offices to which the versatile mind is called. ~Henry T. Tuckerman, "Characteristics of Lamb," in American Quarterly Review, March 1836
The difference between journalism and literature is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
Romance is the literature of hope. ~Damon Suede
The sermon is now the true poppy of literature. ~David Swing
[L]earning... helps us to conquer our own infirmities... and without the assistance of literature, is a kind of death to the soul, and, in a manner the grave of a man alive. ~"General reflexions on the advantages of a good education," in The Scots Magazine, April 1749
The test of real literature is that it will bear repetition. We read over the same pages again and again, and always with fresh delight. ~Samual McChord Crothers
A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say. ~Italo Calvino, The Literature Machine