American Literature Quotes

Quotes tagged as "american-literature" (showing 1-30 of 53)
Ernest Hemingway
“I am always in love.”
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

Ernest Hemingway
“Most people were heartless about turtles because a turtle’s heart will beat for hours after it has been cut up and butchered. But the old man thought, I have such a heart too.”
Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway
“He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. He never dreamed about the boy. He simply woke, looked out the open door at the moon and unrolled his trousers and put them on.”
Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway
“Perhaps as you went along you did learn something. I did not care what it was all about. All I wanted to know was how to live in it. Maybe if you found out how to live in it you learned from that what it was all about.”
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

Mark Twain
“Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons  attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.”
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Edgar Allan Poe
“Twas noontide of summer,
And mid-time of night;
And stars, in their orbits,
Shone pale, thro' the light
Of the brighter, cold moon,
'Mid planets her slaves,
Herself in the Heavens,
Her beam on the waves.
I gazed awhile
On her cold smile;
Too cold–too cold for me-
There pass'd, as a shroud,
A fleecy cloud,
And I turned away to thee,
Proud Evening Star,
In thy glory afar,
And dearer thy beam shall be;
For joy to my heart
Is the proud part
Thou bearest in Heaven at night,
And more I admire
Thy distant fire,
Than that colder, lowly light.”
Edgar Allan Poe , The Complete Poetry

Emily Hahn
“The Bohemian who tires of life, who gives up by retirement into insamity or suicide, is not necessarily one who had failed in what he wants to express.”
Emily Hahn, Romantic Rebels: An Informal History of Bohemianism in America

Laura Bush
“There is nothing political about American literature.”
Laura Bush

John Fante
“I have seen them stagger out of their movie palaces and blink their empty eyes in the face of reality once more, and stagger home, to read the Times, to find out what's going on in the world. I have vomited at their newspapers, read their literature, observed their customs, eaten their food, desired their women, gaped at their art. But I am poor, and my name ends with a soft vowel, and they hate me and my father, and my father's father, and they would have my blood and put me down, but they are old now, dying in the sun and in the hot dust of the road, and I am young and full of hope and love for my country and my times, and when I say Greaser to you it is not my heart that speaks, but the quivering of an old wound, and I am ashamed of the terrible thing I have done.”
John Fante, Ask the Dust

“Our fiction is not merely in flight from the physical data of the actual world…it is, bewilderingly and embarrassingly, a gothic fiction, nonrealistic and negative, sadist and melodramatic – a literature of darkness and the grotesque in a land of light and affirmation…our classic [American] literature is a literature of horror for boys”
Leslie Fielder

E.L. Doctorow
“I can assure you Ernest Hemingway was wrong when he said modern American literature began with Huckleberry Finn. It begins with Moby-Dick, the book that swallowed European civilization whole.”
E.L. Doctorow

Mark Twain
“I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.”
Mark Twain

Theodore Roethke
“O my poor words, bear with me.”
Theodore Roethke, Straw for the Fire: From the Notebooks of Theodore Roethke

Don DeLillo
“We are not native. We have no generations of Americans behind us. We have roots elsewhere. We are looking in from the outside. To me, that seems to be perfectly natural.”
Don DeLillo

William Least Heat-Moon
“Here the earth, as if to prove its immensity, empties itself. Gertrude Stein said: 'In the United States there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is. That is what makes America what it is.' The uncluttered stretches of the American West and the deserted miles of roads force a lone traveler to pay attention to them by leaving him isolated in them. This squander of land substitutes a sense of self with a sense of place by giving him days of himself until, tiring of his own small compass, he looks for relief to the bigness outside -- a grandness that demands attention not just for its scope, but for its age, its diversity, its continual change. The isolating immensity reveals what lies covered in places noisier, busier, more filled up. For me, what I saw revealed was this (only this): a man nearly desperate because his significance had come to lie within his own narrow ambit.”
William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways

John Steinbeck
“Not long ago, after my last trip to Russia, I had a conversation with an American very eminent in the field of politics. I asked what he read, and he replied that he studied history, sociology, politics and law.

"How about fiction - novels, plays poetry?" I asked.

"No," he said, "I have never had time for them. There's so much else I have to read."

I said, "Sir, I have recently visited Russia for the third time and don't know how well I understand Russians; but I do know that if I only read Russian history I could not have had the access to Russian thinking I have had from reading Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Pushkin, Turgenev, Sholokhov, and Ehrenburg. History only recounts, with some inaccuracy, what they did. The fiction tells, or tries to tell, why they did it and what they felt and were like when they did it."

My friend nodded gravely. "I hadn't though of that," he said. "Yes, that might be so; I had always thought of fiction as opposed to fact."

But in considering the American past, how poor we would be in information without Huckleberry Fin, An American Tragedy, Winesburg, Ohio, Main Street, The Great Gatsby, and As I Lay Dying.”
John Steinbeck, America and Americans

John  Smith
“Nay, so great was our famine that a Salvage we slew and buried, the poorer sort took him up again and eat him; and so did divers one another, boyled and stewed with roots and herbs. And one amongst the rest did kill his wife, powdered her, and had eaten part of her, before it was knowne, for which hee was executed, as hee well deserved. Now whether shee was better roasted, boyled, or carbonado'd I know not, but of such a dish as powdered wife I never heard of.”
John Smith, Pocahontas: My Own Story

Maureen Corrigan
“Social class. Class remains our national awkward topic, usually mumbled over in academic diversity workshops; indeed, most people don't know how to talk about class without automatically coupling it with race. That's because we Americans are loath to recognize that the sky's-the-limit potential we take as our birthright comes at a price far beyond what many Americans--of any race--can afford to pay.”
Maureen Corrigan, So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures

William H. Gass
“Writing. Not writing. Twin Terrors. Putting one's mother into words... It may have been easier to put her in her grave.”
William H. Gass, The World Within the Word

James Fenimore Cooper
“But even the falsest of men pay so much homage to truth as to seem its votaries.”
James Fenimore Cooper, The Pathfinder

Paul West
“Can it be that this mathematical universe is the graffito of a hare-brained numerologist?”
Paul West, Sheer Fiction

Richard Wright
“Out of the magazines I read came a passionate call for the experiences of the disinherited, and there were none of the lame lispings of the missionary in it. It did not say: "Be like us and we will like you, maybe." It said: "If you possess enough courage to speak out what you are, you will find that you are not alone.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy

Jonathan Edwards
“The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them.”
Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Dani Stowe
“I just have goals. Big ones. I have big goals that involve big things in small places. -Gunner”
Dani Stowe, Big Gun

Louis Auchincloss
“In that moment I think I learned the real tragedy of living too long. It is not losing one's health or one's memory or even one's mind; it is losing one's dignity.”
Louis Auchincloss, The Rector of Justin

Walt Whitman
“Strangle the singers who will not sing you loud and strong.”
Walt Whitman

John Steinbeck
“I like to pet nice things with my fingers”
John Steinbeck

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“He wanted to know about day-to-day life in America, what people ate and what consumed them, what shamed them and what attracted them, but he read novel after novel and was disappointed: nothing was grave, nothing serious, nothing urgent, and most dissolved into ironic nothingness.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

David Foster Wallace
“Quando vennero presentati, lui fece una battuta, sperando di piacere. Lei rise a crepapelle, sperando di piacere. Poi se ne tornarono a casa in macchina, ognuno per conto suo, lo sguardo fisso davanti a sé, la stessa identica smorfia sul viso.
A quello che li aveva presentati nessuno dei due piaceva troppo, anche se faceva finta di sí, visto che ci teneva tanto a mantenere sempre buoni rapporti con tutti. Sai, non si sa mai, in fondo, o invece sì, o invece sì.”
David Foster Wallace, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Dawn Powell
“Many men have triumphantly exploited a minuscule talent through life only to ruin themselves by muffing their deaths. Missing their proper exit cues they have hung around like dreary guests at a party, repeating themselves until it is made clear to all how little they ever had to say.”
Dawn Powell, The Wicked Pavilion

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