Classic Literature Quotes

Quotes tagged as "classic-literature" (showing 1-30 of 72)
Yukio Mishima
“Young people get the foolish idea that what is new for them must be new for everybody else too. No matter how unconventional they get, they're just repeating what others before them have done.”
Yukio Mishima, After the Banquet

Charles Dickens
“LONDON. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ’prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.

Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streets, much as the sun may, from the spongey fields, be seen to loom by husbandman and ploughboy. Most of the shops lighted two hours before their time — as the gas seems to know, for it has a haggard and unwilling look.

The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln’s Inn Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.”
Charles Dickens, Bleak House

Oscar Wilde
“You are a wonderful creation. You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know.”
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

“When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before.”
Cliff Fadiman

Robert Louis Stevenson
“Seaward ho! Hang the treasure! It's the glory of the sea that has turned my head.”
Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

Jane Austen
“There is one thing, Emma, which a man can always do if he chooses, and that is his duty; not by manoeuvring and finessing, but by vigour and resolution. - Mr. Knightley”
Jane Austen, Emma

Edgar Allan Poe
“To Helen

I saw thee once-once only-years ago;
I must not say how many-but not many.
It was a july midnight; and from out
A full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring,
Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven,
There fell a silvery-silken veil of light,
With quietude, and sultriness, and slumber
Upon the upturn'd faces of a thousand
Roses that grew in an enchanted garden,
Where no wind dared to stir, unless on tiptoe-
Fell on the upturn'd faces of these roses
That gave out, in return for the love-light
Thier odorous souls in an ecstatic death-
Fell on the upturn'd faces of these roses
That smiled and died in this parterre, enchanted by thee, by the poetry of thy prescence.

Clad all in white, upon a violet bank
I saw thee half reclining; while the moon
Fell on the upturn'd faces of the roses
And on thine own, upturn'd-alas, in sorrow!

Was it not Fate that, on this july midnight-
Was it not Fate (whose name is also sorrow)
That bade me pause before that garden-gate,
To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses?
No footstep stirred; the hated world all slept,
Save only thee and me. (Oh Heaven- oh, God! How my heart beats in coupling those two worlds!)
Save only thee and me. I paused- I looked-
And in an instant all things disappeared.
(Ah, bear in mind this garden was enchanted!)

The pearly lustre of the moon went out;
The mossy banks and the meandering paths,
The happy flowers and the repining trees,
Were seen no more: the very roses' odors
Died in the arms of the adoring airs.
All- all expired save thee- save less than thou:
Save only the divine light in thine eyes-
Save but the soul in thine uplifted eyes.
I saw but them- they were the world to me.
I saw but them- saw only them for hours-
Saw only them until the moon went down.
What wild heart-histories seemed to lie enwritten
Upon those crystalline, celestial spheres!
How dark a woe! yet how sublime a hope!
How silently serene a sea of pride!
How daring an ambition!yet how deep-
How fathomless a capacity for love!

But now, at length, dear Dian sank from sight,
Into western couch of thunder-cloud;
And thou, a ghost, amid the entombing trees
Didst glide away. Only thine eyes remained.
They would not go- they never yet have gone.
Lighting my lonely pathway home that night,
They have not left me (as my hopes have) since.

They follow me- they lead me through the years.
They are my ministers- yet I thier slave
Thier office is to illumine and enkindle-
My duty, to be saved by thier bright light,
And purified in thier electric fire,
And sanctified in thier Elysian fire.
They fill my soul with Beauty (which is Hope),
And are far up in heaven- the stars I kneel to
In the sad, silent watches of my night;
While even in the meridian glare of day
I see them still- two sweetly scintillant
Venuses, unextinguished by the sun!”
Edgar Allan Poe

Maud Hart Lovelace
“Say, you told me you thought Les Miserables was the greatest novel ever written. I think Vanity Fair is the greatest. Let's fight. - Joe Willard”
Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy and Joe

Victor Hugo
“At the moment when her eyes closed, when all feeling vanished in her, she thought that she felt a touch of fire imprinted on her lips, a kiss more burning than the red-hot iron of the executioner.”
Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

“Once upon a time, they say, there was a girl...there was a boy...there was a person who was in trouble. And this is what she did...and what he did...and how they learned to survive it. This is what they did...and why one failed...and why another triumphed in the end. And I know that it's true, because I danced at their wedding and drank their very best wine.”
Terri Windling

Ethel Lilian Voynich
“Dear Jim."

The writing grew suddenly blurred and misty. And she had lost him again--had lost him again! At the sight of the familiar childish nickname all the hopelessness of her bereavement came over her afresh, and she put out her hands in blind desperation, as though the weight of the earth-clods that lay above him were pressing on her heart.

Presently she took up the paper again and went on reading:

"I am to be shot at sunrise to-morrow. So if I am to keep at all my promise to tell you everything, I must keep it now. But, after all, there is not much need of explanations between you and me. We always understood each other without many words, even when we were little things.

"And so, you see, my dear, you had no need to break your heart over that old story of the blow. It was a hard hit, of course; but I have had plenty of others as hard, and yet I have managed to get over them,--even to pay back a few of them,--and here I am still, like the mackerel in our nursery-book (I forget its name), 'Alive and kicking, oh!' This is my last kick, though; and then, tomorrow morning, and--'Finita la Commedia!' You and I will translate that: 'The variety show is over'; and will give thanks to the gods that they have had, at least, so much mercy on us. It is not much, but it is something; and for this and all other blessings may we be truly thankful!

"About that same tomorrow morning, I want both you and Martini to understand clearly that I am quite happy and satisfied, and could ask no better thing of Fate. Tell that to Martini as a message from me; he is a good fellow and a good comrade, and he will understand. You see, dear, I know that the stick-in-the-mud people are doing us a good turn and themselves a bad one by going back to secret trials and executions so soon, and I know that if you who are left stand together steadily and hit hard, you will see great things. As for me, I shall go out into the courtyard with as light a heart as any child starting home for the holidays. I have done my share of the work, and this death-sentence is the proof that I have done it thoroughly. They kill me because they are afraid of me; and what more can any man's heart desire?

"It desires just one thing more, though. A man who is going to die has a right to a personal fancy, and mine is that you should see why I have always been such a sulky brute to you, and so slow to forget old scores. Of course, though, you understand why, and I tell you only for the pleasure of writing the words. I loved you, Gemma, when you were an ugly little girl in a gingham frock, with a scratchy tucker and your hair in a pig-tail down your back; and I love you still. Do you remember that day when I kissed your hand, and when you so piteously begged me 'never to do that again'? It was a scoundrelly trick to play, I know; but you must forgive that; and now I kiss the paper where I have written your name. So I have kissed you twice, and both times without your consent.

"That is all. Good-bye, my dear"

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live
Or if I die”
Ethel Lilian Voynich

Taylor Caldwell
“. . . a statement that is repugnant to one's beliefs can be as true as one that is pleasurable.”
Taylor Caldwell, Dear and Glorious Physician

Alexei Panshin
“Classics aren't books that are read for pleasure. Classics are books that are imposed on unwilling students, books that are subjected to analyses of "levels of significance" and other blatt, books that are dead.”
Alexei Panshin, Rite of Passage

“So ran the speech. Burdened and sick at heart,
He feigned hope in his look, and inwardly
Contained his anguish. […]
Aeneas, more than any, secretly
Mourned for them all”
Virgil, The Aeneid

Harper Lee
“Folks were doin' a lot of runnin' that night”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Sinclair Lewis
“The author says one character's definition of a classic is any book he'd heard of before he was thirty.”
Sinclair Lewis, It Can't Happen Here

Oscar Wilde
“Realize your youth while you have it. Don’t squander the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, or giving away your life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar. These are the sickly aims, the false ideals, of our age. Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing”
Oscar Wilde

“I couldn't let you sacrifice yourself for me."

"Its not a sacrifice. My ambition has just changed.”
Mariah Marsden, Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel

E.A. Bucchianeri
“Upon the publication of Goethe’s epic drama, the Faustian legend had reached an almost unapproachable zenith. Although many failed to appreciate, or indeed, to understand this magnum opus in its entirety, from this point onward his drama was the rule by which all other Faust adaptations were measured. Goethe had eclipsed the earlier legends and became the undisputed authority on the subject of Faust in the eyes of the new Romantic generation. To deviate from his path would be nothing short of blasphemy.”
E.A. Bucchianeri, Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World, Vol. 2

Jack London
“Life streamed through him in splendid flood, glad and rampant, until it seemed that it would burst him asunder in sheer ecstasy and pour forth generously over the world.”
Jack London, The Call of the Wild/White Fang

Jean Webster
“Don't let politeness interfere with truth”
Jean Webster, Daddy-Long-Legs & Dear Enemy

Stefan Zweig
“yapacak hiçbir şey yoktu,duyacak hiçbir şey yoktu,görecek hiçbir şey yoktu,her yerde ve sürekli olarak insanın çevresinde hiçlik, zamandan ve mekandan mutlak anlamda yoksun bir boşluk vardı.insan bir aşağı bir yukarı gidip geliyordu ve onunla birlikte düşünceler de bir aşağı bir yukarı,bir aşağı bir yukarı gidip geliyordu,sürekli gidip geliyordu.fakat sonuçta düşüncelerin de,ne herhangi bir özden yoksunmuş gibi görünürlerse görünsünler, bir destek noktasına ihtiyaçları vardır,aksi takdirde dönmeye ve anlamsız bir biçimde kendi etrflarında çember çizmeye başlarlar;onlar da hiçliğe dayanamazlar.insan bir şey bekliyordu,sabahtan akşama kadar bekliyordu ve hiçbir şey olmuyordu. insan tekrar tekrar bekliyordu. hiçbir şey olmuyordu. insan bekliyor, bekliyor, bekliyordu, düşünüyor, düşünüyordu, şakakları ağrımaya başlayana kadar düşünüyordu. hiçbir şey olmuyordu. insan yalnız kalıyordu. yalnız. yalnız.”
Stefan Zweig, Satranç

Leo Tolstoy
“How many trials and tribulations we have to go through in order to enjoy them as they are now! And even now, I’ll swear there’s more dread than enjoyment. You’re always, always afraid for them. Especially at this age when there are so many dangers both for girls and boys.’

‘It all depends on how they were brought up,’ said the visitor. ‘You’re quite right,’ the countess went on. ‘Up to now, thank God, I’ve been a good friend to my children and they trust me completely.’ The countess was repeating the delusion of so many parents, who imagine their children have no secrets from them.

Tolstoy, Leo. War And Peace (Penguin Popular Classics) (pp. 44-45). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.”
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Jean Webster
“Don't let politeness interelfere with truth”
Jean Webster, Daddy-Long-Legs & Dear Enemy

“The sun will always rise, but we may never know”
Aprl Ray

“Give, do not lend; after death who will thank you?”
E M Forster

Mark Twain
“I said, "Don't do nothing of the kind; it's one of the most jackass ideas I ever struck;”
Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Alexandre Dumas
“What a fool I was not to tear my heart out on the day when I resolved to avenge myself!”
Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas
“I am he whom you sold and dishonored — I am he whose betrothed you prostituted — I am he upon whom you trampled that you might raise yourself to fortune — I am he whose father you condemned to die of hunger — I am he whom you also condemned to starvation, and who yet forgives you, because he hopes to be forgiven - I am Edmund Dantes!”
Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

Nathaniel Philbrick
“To write timelessly about the here and now, a writer must approach the present indirectly. The story has to be about more than it at first seems. Shakespeare used the historical sources of his plays as a scaffolding on which to construct detailed portraits of his own age. The interstices between the secondhand historical plots and Shakespeare’s startlingly original insights into Elizabethan England are what allow his work to speak to us today. Reading Shakespeare, we know what it is like, in any age, to be alive. So it is with Moby-Dick, a novel about a whaling voyage to the Pacific that is also about America racing hell-bent toward the Civil War and so much more. Contained in the pages of Moby-Dick is nothing less than the genetic code of America: all the promises, problems, conflicts, and ideals that contributed to the outbreak of a revolution in 1775 as well as a civil war in 1861 and continue to drive this country’s ever-contentious march into the future. This means that whenever a new crisis grips this country, Moby-Dick becomes newly important. It is why subsequent generations have seen Ahab as Hitler during World War II or as a profit-crazed deep-drilling oil company in 2010 or as a power-crazed Middle Eastern dictator in 2011.”
Nathaniel Philbrick, Why Read Moby-Dick?

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