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Theodore Dreiser quotes (showing 1-30 of 37)

“People in general attach too much importance to words. They are under the illusion that talking effects great results. As a matter of fact, words are, as a rule, the shallowest portion of all the argument. They but dimly represent the great surging feelings and desires which lie behind. When the distraction of the tongue is removed, the heart listens.”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
“Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean.  Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.”
Theodore Dreiser
“Many individuals are so constituted that their only thought is to obtain pleasure and shun responsibility. They would like, butterfly-like, to wing forever in a summer garden, flitting from flower to flower, and sipping honey for their sole delight. They have no feeling that any result which might flow from their action should concern them. They have no conception of the necessity of a well-organized society wherein all shall accept a certain quota of responsibility and all realize a reasonable amount of happiness. They think only of themselves because they have not yet been taught to think of society. For them pain and necessity are the great taskmasters. Laws are but the fences which circumscribe the sphere of their operations. When, after error, pain falls as a lash, they do not comprehend that their suffering is due to misbehavior. Many such an individual is so lashed by necessity and law that he falls fainting to the ground, dies hungry in the gutter or rotting in the jail and it never once flashes across his mind that he has been lashed only in so far as he has persisted in attempting to trespass the boundaries which necessity sets. A prisoner of fate, held enchained for his own delight, he does not know that the walls are tall, that the sentinels of life are forever pacing, musket in hand. He cannot perceive that all joy is within and not without. He must be for scaling the bounds of society, for overpowering the sentinel. When we hear the cries of the individual strung up by the thumbs, when we hear the ominous shot which marks the end of another victim who has thought to break loose, we may be sure that in another instance life has been misunderstood--we may be sure that society has been struggled against until death alone would stop the individual from contention and evil.”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
“Art is the stored honey of the human soul.”
Theodore Dreiser
“How true it is that words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean.”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
“Love is the only thing you can really give in all this world. When you give love, you give everything.”
Theodore Dreiser, Short Stories
“The most futile thing in this world is any attempt, perhaps, at exact definition of character. All individuals are a bundle of contradictions - none more so than the most capable.”
Theodore Dreiser
“It is a sad thing to want for happiness, but it is a terrible thing to see another groping about blindly for it, when it is almost within the grasp.”
Theodore Dreiser
“When a girl leaves her home at eighteen, she does one of two things. Either she falls into saving hands and becomes better, or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and becomes worse”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
“When a man, however passively, becomes an obstacle to the fulfillment of a woman's desires, he becomes an odious thing in her eyes, - or will, given time enough.”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
“Remember, love is all a woman has to give, but it is the only thing which God permits us to carry beyond the grave.”
Theodore Dreiser, A Sister Carrie Portfolio
“A real flame of love is a subtle thing. It burns as a will-o'-the-wisp, dancing onward to fairy lands of delight. It roars as a furnace. Too often jealousy is the quality upon which it feeds.”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
“How true it is that words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean. Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
tags: words
“And then he sank back and tried, as usual, not to think. He must succeed. That's what the world was made for. That's what he was made for. That was what he would have to do.”
Theodore Dreiser, The Genius
“The thing that impressed me then as now about New York… was the sharp, and at the same time immense, contrast it showed between the dull and the shrewd, the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, the wise and the ignorant… the strong, or those who ultimately dominated, were so very strong, and the weak so very, very weak - and so very, very many.”
Theodore Dreiser
“In your rocking-chair, by your window dreaming, shall you long, alone. In your rocking- chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel.”
Theodore Dreiser
“In the light of the world's attitude toward woman and her duties, the nature of Carrie's mental state deserves consideration. Actions such as hers are measured by an arbitrary scale. Society possesses a conventional standard whereby it judges all things. All men should be good, all women virtuous. Wherefore, villain, hast thou failed?”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
“what matter it if a man gaineth the whole world and loseth his own soul?”
Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy
“When Caroline Meeber boarded the afternoon train for Chicago, her total outfit consisted of a small trunk, a cheap imitation alligator-skin satchel, a small lunch in a paper box, and a yellow leather snap purse, containing her ticket, a scrap of paper with her sister's address in Van Buren Street, and four dollars in money. It was in August, 1889. She was eighteen years of age, bright, timid, and full of the illusions of ignorance and youth. Whatever touch of regret at parting characterised her thoughts, it was certainly not for advantages now being given up. A gush of tears at her mother's farewell kiss, a touch in her throat when the cars clacked by the flour mill where her father worked by the day, a pathetic sigh as the familiar green environs of the village passed in review, and the threads which bound her so lightly to girlhood and home were irretrievably broken.”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
“Our civilisation is still in a middle stage, scarcely beast, in that it is no longer wholly guided by instinct; scarcely human, in that it is not yet wholly guided by reason. On the tiger no responsibility rests. We see him aligned by nature with the forces of life - he is born into their keeping and without thought he is protected. We see man far removed from the lairs of the jungles, his innate instincts dulled by too near an approach to free-will, his free-will not sufficiently developed to replace his instincts and afford him perfect guidance... In this intermediate stage he wavers - neither drawn in harmony with nature by his instincts nor yet wisely putting himself into harmony by his own free-will... We have the consolation of knowing that evolution is ever in action, that the ideal is a light that cannot fail. He will not forever balance thus between good and evil. When this jangle of free-will and instinct shall have been adjusted, when perfect understanding has given the former the power to replace the latter entirely, man will no longer vary. The needle of understanding will yet point steadfast and unwavering to the distant pole of truth.”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
“She turned; she bruised under her heel the scaly head of this dark suspicion-as terrifying to her as his guilt was to him. 'O Absalom, my Absalom! Come, come, we will not entertain such a thought. God himself would not urge it upon a mother.”
Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy
“Life is made for the strong. There is no mercy in it for the weak– none...Such is the tragedy of desire.”
Theodore Dreiser
“Here were these two, bandying little phrases, drawing purses, looking at cards, and both unconscious of how inarticulate all their real feelings were. Neither was wise enough to be sure of the working of the mind of the other. He could not tell how his luring succeeded. She could not realized that she was drifting, until he secured her address. Now she felt that she had yielded something - he, that he had gained a victory. Already he took control in directing the conversation. His words were easy. Her manner was relaxed.”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
“Carrie felt this as a personal reproof. She read "Dora Thorne," or had a great deal in the past. It seemed only fair to her, but she supposed that people thought it very fine. Now this clear- eyed, fine-headed youth, who looked something like a student to her, made fun of it. It was poor to him, not worth reading. She looked down, and for the first time felt the pain of not understanding.”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
“Die Wirkung eines solchen Hauses auf seinen Besitzer ist unverkennbar. […] Es ist ein gegenseitiger Austausch von Würde, Bedeutung und Kraft, und jegliche Schönheit (oder deren Mangel) spinnt ständig wie ein hin und her sausendes Weberschiffchen von einem zum anderen geheime Fäden. Man schneide die Fäden durch, trenne den Menschen von dem, was von Rechts wegen sein Eigen und bezeichnend für ihn ist, und was zurück bleibt, ist ein seltsames Wesen, halb Erfolg und halb Versagen, wie die Spinne ohne Netz, das nie mehr sein wird, was es war, wenn ihm nicht alle seine Würden und Einkünfte zurück gegeben werden.”
Theodore Dreiser, The Financier
“Die Liebe einer Mutter zu ihren Kindern ist beherrschend, löwinnenhaft, selbstsüchtig und zugleich selbstlos […]. Die Liebe eines Vaters zu seinem Sohn oder seiner Tochter ist, wenn es sich überhaupt um Liebe handelt, ein weitherziges, großzügiges, schwermütiges und nachdenkliches Schenken ohne Hoffnung auf Erwiderung, ein Abschiedsgruß an einen geplagten Wanderer, den er gern beschützen möchte, ein richtig abgewogenes Urteil über Stärke und Schwäche, voll Mitleid für den Misserfolg und voll Stolz auf Erfolg.”
Theodore Dreiser, The Financier
“Damals war der Ruf des Detektivs William A. Pinkerton und seines Auskunftsbüros sehr bedeutend. Der Mann war durch eine Reihe von Wechselfällen aus Armut zu hohem Ansehen in seinem sonderbaren und für manche Leute widerwärtigen Beruf emporgestiegen, aber für alle, die solche an sich unglücklichen Dienste benötigen, war seine wohlbekannte und patriotische Rolle im Bürgerkrieg und um Abraham Lincolns Person eine Empfehlung. Er oder vielmehr seine Organisation hatte diesen während der ganzen Dauer seiner stürmischen Amtszeit im Regierungspalast geschützt. Seine Firma hatte Niederlassungen in Philadelphia, Washington und New York, um nur die bedeutendsten Orte zu nennen.”
Theodore Dreiser, The Financier
“She merely beamed a fatty beam. She was almost ponderous, and pink, with a tendency to a double chin.”
Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy
“Мөнгө гэгч энэ зүйлийг юуны өмнө ёс суртахууны үүрэгтэй эд бөгөөд шударгаар зарсан хөдөлмөрийн хариуд олох ёстой зүйл болохоос хууль бусаал хүчлэн авч байх зүйл биш гэдгийг хүн болгон ойлгосон тэр цагт манай нийгэм, улс төр,шашин шүтлэгийн тун олон балай явдал тасралтгүй арилах замдаа орох билээ”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
“A thought will color a world for us.”
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie

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