Characterization Quotes

Quotes tagged as "characterization" Showing 1-30 of 66
Nick Hornby
“I've committed to nothing...and that's just tiny, tiny increments.”
Nick Hornby, High Fidelity

Vladimir Nabokov
“She was like Marat only with nobody to kill her.”
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Bernard Knox
“If through no fault of his own the hero is crushed by a bulldozer in Act II, we are not impressed. Even though life is often like this—the absconding cashier on his way to Nicaragua is killed in a collision at the airport, the prominent statesman dies of a stroke in the midst of the negotiations he has spent years to bring about, the young lovers are drowned in a boating accident the day before their marriage—such events, the warp and woof of everyday life, seem irrelevant, meaningless. They are crude, undigested, unpurged bits of reality—to draw a metaphor from the late J. Edgar Hoover, they are “raw files.” But it is the function of great art to purge and give meaning to human suffering, and so we expect that if the hero is indeed crushed by a bulldozer in Act II there will be some reason for it, and not just some reason but a good one, one which makes sense in terms of the hero’s personality and action. In fact, we expect to be shown that he is in some way responsible for what happens to him.”
Bernard Knox, The Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone

Thomas Hardy
“Bless thy simplicity, Tess”
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Truman Capote
“She is pure Alice in Wonderland, and her appearance and demeanor are a nicely judged mix of the Red Queen and a Flamingo.”
Truman Capote

Thomas Hardy
“You could sometimes see her twelfth year in her cheeks, or her ninth sparkling from her eyes; and even her fifth would flit over the curves of her mouth now and then.”
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Shūsaku Endō
“Over the years I have forged intimate familial ties with these characters, who are reflections of a portion of myself. Consequently, even a character who appeared only once in a short story waits now in the wings, concealed by the curtain, for his next appearance on-stage. Not one of them has ever broken free of his familial ties with me and disappeared for ever - at least, not within the confines of my heart.”
Shusaku Endo, The Final Martyrs

Roman Payne
“I ran across an excerpt today (in English translation) of some dialogue/narration from the modern popular writer, Paulo Coelho in his book: Aleph.(Note: bracketed text is mine.)... 'I spoke to three scholars,' [the character says 'at last.'] ...two of them said that, after death, the [sic (misprint, fault of the publisher)] just go to Paradise. The third one, though, told me to consult some verses from the Koran. [end quote]' ...I can see that he's excited. [narrator]' ...Now I have many positive things to say about Coelho: He is respectable, inspiring as a man, a truth-seeker, and an appealing writer; but one should hesitate to call him a 'literary' writer based on this quote. A 'literary' author knows that a character's excitement should be 'shown' in his or her dialogue and not in the narrator's commentary on it. Advice for Coelho: Remove the 'I can see that he's excited' sentence and show his excitement in the phrasing of his quote.(Now, in defense of Coelho, I am firmly of the opinion, having myself written plenty of prose that is flawed, that a novelist should be forgiven for slipping here and there.)Lastly, it appears that a belief in reincarnation is of great interest to Mr. Coelho ... Just think! He is a man who has achieved, (as Leonard Cohen would call it), 'a remote human possibility.' He has won lots of fame and tons of money. And yet, how his preoccupation with reincarnation—none other than an interest in being born again as somebody else—suggests that he is not happy!”
Roman Payne

Roman Payne
“Favoring 'resolution' the way we do, it is hard for us men to write great love stories. Why?, because we want to tell too much. We aren’t satisfied unless at the end of the story the characters are lying there, panting.”
Roman Payne

Laura Anne Gilman
“Clever's not enough to hold me - I want characters who are more than devices to be moved about for Effect.”
Laura Anne Gilman

Saul Bellow
“A good American makes propaganda for whatever existence has forced him to become.”
Saul Bellow

W. Somerset Maugham
“Most of these stories are on the tragic side. But the reader must not suppose that the incidents I have narrated were of common occurrence. The vast majority of these people, government servants, planters, and traders, who spent their working lives in Malaya were ordinary people ordinarily satisfied with their station in life. They did the jobs they were paid to do more or less competently,. They were as happy with their wives as are most married couples. They led humdrum lives and did very much the same things every day. Sometimes by way of a change they got a little shooting; but at a rule, after they had done their day's work, they played tennis if there were people to play with, went to the club at sundown if there was a club in the vicinity, drank in moderation, and played bridge. They had their little tiffs, their little jealousies, their little flirtations, their little celebrations. They were good, decent, normal people.

I respect, and even admire, such people, but they are not the sort of people I can write stories about. I write stories about people who have some singularity of character which suggests to me that they may be capable of behaving in such a way as to give me an idea that I can make use of, or about people who by some accident or another, accident of temperament, accident of environment, have been involved in unusual contingencies. But, I repeat, they are the exception.”
W. Somerset Maugham, Collected Short Stories: Volume 4

William Shakespeare
“I do not know the man I should avoid So soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much, He is a great observer, and he looks Quite through the deeds of men. He loves no plays As thou dost, Anthony; he heard no music; Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort As if he mocked himself and scorned his spirit That could be moved to smile at anything. Such men as he be never at heart's ease Whiles they behold a greater than themselves, And therefore are they very dangerous.”
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Iris Murdoch
“She was not just a wild creature, she was a wounded creature.”
Iris Murdoch, The Message to the Planet

Anthony Powell
“He gave me a look of great contempt; as I supposed, for venturing, even by implication, to draw a parallel between a lack of affluence that might, literally, affect my purchase of rare vintages, and a figure of speech intended delicately to convey his own dire want for the bare necessities of life. He remained silent for several seconds, as if trying to make up his mind whether he could ever bring himself to speak to me again; and then said gruffly: 'I've got to go now.”
Anthony Powell, A Buyer's Market

Patrick O'Brian
“(She) threw Stephen a quick, apologetic glance and ran into the house. She might be in a strange hurry of spirits, but she moved with the perfect, unconscious grace that had always touched him, and he felt a wave of tenderness, allied to his former passionate love; perhaps its ghost.”
Patrick O'Brian, The Surgeon's Mate

Iain Reid
“He’s whispering again. I’m finding it hard to hear, and we’re standing close together.
What do you want to ask?
‘If Hen/ was the same as she is now, in every way, but was a bit less physically attractive in one significant way, do you think you would have married her?’
I’m caught off guard by the question, but I don’t want to show that I am, so I don’t hesitate with my answer.
Of course, I say. I love Hen. Hen’s my wife. She’ll be with me forever. I’ve always loved he. I’ll always love her.
‘ I know that. I know. I don’t doubt you love her very much. That’s not really what I’m asking, though. Are you sure you would have married her? Committed to her forever? Think about it. Does her appearance not mean anything to you? Is that what you’re saying? That what she looks like is irrelevant?’
It’s such a blonde question. It seems out of line with everything else we talked about. I feel a trickle in sweat slide down my spine.
I’m saying, to me, no matter what, she would still be Hen.
‘Would she, though? Would she still be the Hen you fell in love with? What about this: What if she looked exactly as she does right now, but she was a little less intelligent? Would she still be Hen?’
That’s just stupid. It’s a stupid question. Hen is Hen.”
Iain Reid, Foe

Maria Wälsäter
“När jag spelar spelet är jag den sista att lägga mig.”
Maria Wälsäter, Stjärnfödd

Iris Murdoch
“He was attentive but impersonal, and esteemed rather than loved.”
Iris Murdoch, The Message to the Planet

“Superman and Spiderman don't wear your costume and character, they have their own costume and character”
P.S. Jagadeesh Kumar

Iris Murdoch
“Mary did not believe in analysing herself, and she had left vague the notion that sometimes came to her that this anxious unfulfilled sort of loving was the only kind of which she was capable.”
Iris Murdoch, The Nice and the Good

“He had the kind of shrunken posture that promised something terrible had happened to him.”
Caroline Zancan, We Wish You Luck

Ottessa Moshfegh
“I never got a good look at Dr. Tuttle's eyes. I suspect that they were crazy eyes, black and shiny, like a crow's. The pen she used was long and purple and had a purple feather at the end of it.”
Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation

“Pero ¿quién era Jenny? Un personaje dibujado en cuatro trazos. Yo había rellenado sus vacíos con mis propios deseos, solo sus ojos aguamarina eran verdad. […] Fue extraño descubrir que en el fondo ella no era más que otro personaje secundario.”
Rosendo Chas

Joyce Rachelle
“First rule of exposition: Less is more.”
Joyce Rachelle

Iris Murdoch
“Since parting company with the priesthood he could almost be said to have become demoralised. Almost, for somehow he remained someone, a slightly mysterious someone, whom they respected, and they gave him the benefit of every doubt.”
Iris Murdoch, The Message to the Planet

Iris Murdoch
“. . . the superiority of some infinite reserve and the mystery of some infinite sadness.”
Iris Murdoch, The Message to the Planet

Ann Patchett
“Maybe Sandy was right, and she was a saint, and saints were universally despised by their families.”
Anne Patchett

Henry James
“She's beautiful, but I don't say she's easy to know."

"Ah, she's a thousand and one things!”
Henry James, The Wings of the Dove

Günther Anders
Kafka's characters are not more abstract than real people: they are people attached to a job.”
Günther Anders, Kafka pro und contra: Die Prozess-Unterlagen.

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