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James A. Michener quotes Showing 1-30 of 219

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”
James Michener
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home.”
James A. Michener
“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.”
James A. Michener
“An age is called Dark, not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it.”
James A. Michener
“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both. ”
James A. Michener
“We are never prepared for what we expect.”
James A. Michener, Caravans
“I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter.”
James Mitchner
“If your book doesn't keep you up nights when you are writing it, it won't keep anyone up nights reading it.”
James Michener
“Writers turn dreams into print.”
James A. Michener, Writer's Handbook: Explorations in Writing and Publishing
“The permanent temptation of life is to confuse dreams with reality. The permanent defeat of life comes when dreams are surrendered to reality.”
James A. Michener, The Drifters
“Public libraries have been a mainstay of my life. They represent an individual's right to acquire knowledge; they are the sinews that bind civilized societies the world over. Without libraries, I would be a pauper, intellectually and spiritually.”
James A. Michener
“A nation becomes what its young people read in their youth. Its ideals are fashioned then, its goals strongly determined.”
James A. Michener
“For this is the journey that men make, to find themselves. If they fail in this, it doesn't matter much what else they find.”
James A. Michener
“Being goal-oriented instead of self-oriented is crucial. I know so many people who want to be writers. But let me tell you, they really don't want to be writers. They want to have been writers. They wish they had a book in print. They don't want to go through the work of getting the damn book out. There is a huge difference.”
James Michener
“When this is over, I'm not going to be the same guy. I'm going to live as if I were a great man.”
James A. Michener
“Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them.”
James A. Michener
“A Roman came to Rabbi Gimzo the Water Carrier, and asked, "What is this study of the law that you Jews engage in?" and Gimzo replied, "I shall explain. There were two men on a roof, and they climbed down the chimney. One's face became sooty. The other's not. Which one washed his face?" The Roman said, "That's easy, the sooty one, of course." Gimzo said, "No. The man without the soot looked at his friend, saw that the man's face was dirty, assumed that his was too, and washed it." Cried the Roman, "Ah ha! So that's the study of law. Sound reasoning." But Gimzo said, "You foolish man, you don't understand. Let me explain again. Two men on a roof. They climb down a chimney. One's face is sooty, the other's not. Which one washes?" The Roman said, "As you just explained, the man without the soot." Gimzo cried,"No, you foolish one! There was a mirror on the wall and the man with the dirty face saw how sooty it was and washed it." The Roman said, "Ah ha! So that's the study of law! Conforming to the logical." But Rabbi Gimzo said, "No, you foolish one. Two men climbed down the chimney. One's face became sooty? The other's not? That's impossible. You're wasting my time with such a proposition." And the Roman said, "So that's the law! Common sense." And Gimzo said, "You foolish man! Of course it was possible. When the first man climbed down the chimney he brushed the soot away. So the man who followed found none to mar him." And the Roman cried, "That's brilliant, Rabbi Gimzo. Law is getting at the basic facts." And for the last time Gimzo said, "No, you foolish man. Who could brush all the soot from a chimney? Who could ever understand all the facts?" Humbly the Roman asked, "Then what is the law?" And Gimzo said quietly, "It's doing the best we can to ascertain God's intention, for there were indeed two men on a roof, and they did climb down the same chimney. The first man emerged completely clean while it was the second who was covered with soot, and neither man washed his face, because you forgot to ask me whether there was any water in the basin. There was none.”
James A. Michener, The Source
“We seek God so earnestly, Eliav reflected, not to find Him but to discover ourselves.”
James A. Michener, The Source
“I wish I could tell you about the South Pacific. The way it actually was. The endless ocean. The infinite specks of coral we called islands. Coconut palms nodding gracefully toward the ocean. Reefs upon which waves broke into spray, and inner lagoons, lovely beyond description. I wish I could tell you about the sweating jungle, the full moon rising behind the volcanoes, and the waiting. The waiting. The timeless, repetitive waiting.”
James A. Michener, Tales of the South Pacific
“a soldier lives always for the next battle, because he knows that before it arrives impossible changes can occur in his favor.”
James A. Michener, Poland
“This is not a promise, this is not threat, it's just the way it's gonna be!!!”
James A. Michener, The Covenant
“I can no longer take war or promotion or big income or a large house seriously. I reject empire and Vietnam and placing a man on the moon. I deny time payments and looking like the girl next door and church weddings and a great deal more. If you want to blame such rejection on grass, you can do so. I charge it to awakening.”
James A. Michener, The Drifters
“Only the rocks live forever, Gray Wolf said.”
James A. Michener, Centennial
“The dead are dead but they rely on us to fulfill their hopes.”
James A. Michener, The Source
“I have often been mildly amused when I think that the great American novel was not written about New England or Chicago. It was written about a white whale in the South Pacific.”
James A. Michener, Return to Paradise
“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries”
James Michner
“To have courage. To have honor. Is very beautiful.”
James A. Michener, Sayonara
“I wondered how a man ever got an English girl into bed. What did they do with her hockey stick?”
James Michener
“It was his opinion that a man had to wait until he was dead to know the meaning of God, unless he happened to have known the sea in his youth.”
James A. Michener, Hawaii
“No man leaves where he is and seeks a distant place unless he is in some respect a failure.”
James A. Michener, Hawaii

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