Literature About Literature Quotes

Quotes tagged as "literature-about-literature" Showing 1-30 of 31
Vikram Seth
“Every object strives for its proper place. A book seeks to be near its truest admirer. Just as this helpless moth seeks to be near the candle that infatuates him.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy

Daniil Kharms
“It’s hard to say something about Pushkin to a person who doesn’t know anything about him. Pushkin is a great poet. Napoleon is not as great as Pushkin. Bismarck compared to Pushkin is a nobody. And the Alexanders, First, Second and Third, are just little kids compared to Pushkin. In fact, compared to Pushkin, all people are little kids, except Gogol. Compared to him, Pushkin is a little kid.
And so, instead of writing about Pushkin, I would rather write about Gogol.
Although, Gogol is so great that not a thing can be written about him, so I'll write about Pushkin after all.
Yet, after Gogol, it’s a shame to have to write about Pushkin. But you can’t write anything about Gogol. So I’d rather not write anything about anyone.”
Daniil Kharms, Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings

Kurt Vonnegut
“Listen. All great literature is about what a bummer it is to be a human being.”
Kurt Vonnegut

Journey through the Power of the Rainbow represents a condensed compendium of literary efforts from
“Journey through the Power of the Rainbow represents a condensed compendium of literary efforts from a life dedicated to transforming the themes of injustice, grief, and despair that we all encounter during some unavoidable point of our existence into a sustainable life-affirming poetics of passionate creativity, empowered spiritual vision, and inspired commitment.”
Aberjhani, Journey through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry

William H. Gass
“As Borges has taught us, all the books in the library are contemporary. Great poems are like granaries: they are always ready to enlarge their store.”
William H. Gass, Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation

Vikram Seth
“Whenever she opened a scientific book and saw whole paragraphs of incomprehensible words and symbols, she felt a sense of wonder at the great territories of learning that lay beyond her - the sum of so many noble and purposive attempts to make objective sense of the world.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy

Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“There are some people about whom it is difficult to say anything which would describe them immediately and fully in their most typical and characteristic aspects; these are the people who are usually called "ordinary" and accounted as "the majority," and who actually do make up the great majority of society. In their novels and stories writers most often try to choose and present vividly and artistically social types which are extremely seldom encountered in real life, and which are nevertheless more real than real life itself. Podkolyosin, viewed as a type, in perhaps exaggerated, but he is hardly unknown. How many clever people having learned from Gogol about Podkolyosin at once discover that great numbers of their friends bear a terrific resemblance to Podkolyosin. They knew before Gogol that their friends were like Podkolyosin, except they did not know yet that that was their name...
Nevertheless the question remains before us: what is the novelist to do with the absolutely "ordinary" people, and how can he present them to readers so that they are at all interesting? To leave them out of a story completely is not possible, because ordinary people are at every moment, by and large, the necessary links in the chain of human affairs; leaving them out, therefore, means to destroy credibility. To fill a novel entirely with types or, simply for the sake of interest, strange and unheard-of people, would be improbable and most likely not even interesting. In our opinion the writer must try to find interesting and informative touches even among commonplace people. When, for example, the very nature of certain ordinary persons consists precisely of their perpetual and unvarying ordinariness, or, better still, when in spite of their most strenuous efforts to life themselves out of the rut of ordinariness and routine, then such persons acquire a certain character of their own-the typical character of mediocrity which refuses to remain what it is and desires at all costs to become original and independent, without having the slightest capacity for independence.”
Dostoevsky

César Aira
“Poison or elixir, narcotic or aphrodisiac, whatever it was, this flower, relic of a day in the life of an accidental writer, an inadvertent counterfeiter leaving his traces in code, the birds were coming to try it, performing a dance for no one and flying up toward the moon.”
César Aira, Varamo

Ben Lerner
“But my research had taught me that the tissue of contradictions that was my personality was itself, at best, a poem, where “poem” is understood as referring to a failure of language to be equal to the possibilities it figures; only then could my fraudulence be a project and not merely a pathology; only then could my distance from myself be redescribed as critical, aesthetic, as opposed to a side effect of what experts might call my substance problem, felicitous phrase, the origins of which lay not in my desire to evade reality, but in my desire to have a chemical excuse for reality’s unavailability.”
Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station

Ben Lerner
“If I was a poet, I had become one because poetry, more intensely than any other practice, could not evade its anachronism and marginality and so constituted a kind of acknowledgment of my own preposterousness, admitting my bad faith in good faith, so to speak.”
Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station

Ben Lerner
“When I spoke to her in Spanish I was not translating, I was not thinking my thoughts in English first, but I was nevertheless outside the language I was speaking, building simple sentences with the blocks I’d memorized, not communicating through a fluid medium.”
Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station

Richard Powers
“She saw how the mind makes forever, in order to store the things it had already lost.”
Richard Powers

Jorge Luis Borges
“In this night too, in this night of his mortal eyes into which he was now descending, love and danger were again waiting...
a murmur of glory and hexameters, of men defending a temple the gods will not save, and of black vessels searching the sea for a beloved isle;
the murmor of the Odysseys and Iliads it was his destiny to sing and leave echoing concavely in the memory of man.
These things we know, but not those he felt descending into the last shade of all.”
Jorge Luis Borges

César Aira
“A few birds flew out from the mountains and glided for a while without sound. Standing out against the sky on high slopes beyond a range of low hills, they saw an endless herd of deer, rendered mute by distance. The landscape was reminiscent of a cardboard cutout, but on a huge scale, which gave the impression they were the ones who had become miniatures…All three of them were equally lost.”
César Aira, The Hare

César Aira
“I beg you not to read anything threatening, or even prophetic, into my words, Mr. Clarke. Simply take them as a description, or a 'law' if you like. This circle around a law is a world in miniature within our world, which itself is a miniature. We create the world to fit in with our personal system, so that man can become world. In other words, so that the miniature can become miniature. But miniatures have their own laws, you know. It is not only space which can become minute: it also happens to the corresponding time, which becomes extremely fast. That is why life is so short.”
César Aira, The Hare

Hilda Hilst
“Primeiro você precisa saber a sua própria língua de uma maneira absoluta. Depois, esquecer que sabe a língua e começar tudo de novo, para dar aquele passo novo na língua. Do contrário, você seria uma pessoa formal, escrevendo muito bem, mas uma coisa chatérrima. Portanto, é todo um processo de construir e destruir. Isso leva anos e, quando você está velhinho, parece que aí você consegue escrever mais ou menos bem. Quando se está com aquelas manchas nas mãos, que aparecem com os anos e que eu chamo de "as flores do sepulcro".”
Hilda Hilst, Fico Besta Quando Me Entendem

Thomas C. Foster
“There is only one story.”
Thomas C. Foster

Kelly Proudfoot
“He closed the pages and stuffed them back into his jacket. Keeping his eyes cast downwards as he sipped his wine, he pulled out and lit a cigarette – almost a post-coital gesture.

from The Willow Lake Group by Kelly Proudfoot”
Kelly Proudfoot, The Willow Lake Group

Charles Bukowski
“I walked around the library looking for books. I pulled them off the shelves, one by one. But they were all tricks. They were very dull. There were pages and pages of words that didn't say anything. Or if they did say something they took too long to say it and by the time they said it you already were too tired to have it matter at all. I tried book after book. Surely, out of all those books, there was one.”
Charles Bukowski

Chris Campanioni
“Literature sustains life because it captures death in its forward march. Clickety-clickety-clack, the wheels go round and round ...”
Chris Campanioni, In Conversation

Oliver Oyanadel
“The rebellion against fascism is immensely important to society when its grip on our dreamers strangles the creativity out of our ambition, finally snuffing out all progress as we know it, and as if implanting a tombstone, parks institutions in its place.”
Oliver Oyanadel

Simone de Beauvoir
“Sim, ela vai esquecer a igreja branca e dourada como tinha esquecido tantas outras. Aquela curiosidade que havia mantido quase intacta lhe parecia com frequência como uma sobrevivência obstinada: mas de que servia se as lembranças se reduzem a poeira? A lua brilhava, como a estrelinha que a acompanha fielmente, e Nicole se lembrou dos versos bonitos de Aucassin e Nicolette: “Estrelinha, eu te vi/ Que a lua traz a si.” Esta é a vantagem da literatura, pensou ela: nós guardamos as palavras conosco. As imagens murcham, deformam-se, apagam-se. Mas ela reencontrava as velhas palavras em suas cordas vocais, quase como foram escritas. As palavras os uniam aos séculos passados, quando os astros brilhavam exatamente como hoje. E esse renascimento e essa permanência lhe davam uma impressão de eternidade.”
Simone de Beauvoir, Misverstand in Moskou

Italo Calvino
“A obra literária é uma dessas mínimas porções nas quais o existente se cristaliza numa forma, adquire um sentido, que não é fixo, nem definido, nem enrijecido numa imobilidade mineral, mas tão vivo quanto um organismo.”
Italo Calvino

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“You can't write an honest novel about race in this country. If you write about how people are really affected by race, it'll be too obvious. Black writers who do literary fiction in this country, all three of them, not the ten thousand who write those bullshit ghetto books with the bright covers, have two choices: they can do precious or they can do pretentious. When you do neither, nobody knows what to do with you. So if you're going to write about race, you have to make sure it's so lyrical and subtle that the reader who doesn't read between the lines won't even know it's about race. You know, a Proustian meditation, all watery and fuzzy, that at the end just leaves you feeling watery and fuzzy."
"Or just find a white writer. White writers can be blunt about race and get all activist because their anger isn't threatening.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

José C. Vales
“Y así, del mismo modo que un amateur de las letras no debe cometer la imprudencia de embarcarse y tratar de cruzar el piélago literario, así una aficionada a las flores no tiene por qué ser una experta jardinera.”
José C. Vales, El pensionado de Neuwelke

Thomas Mann
“Our receptivity to praise stands in no relationship to our vulnerability to mean disdain and spiteful abuse. No matter how stupid such abuse is, no matter how plainly impelled by private rancors, as an expression of hostility it occupies us far more deeply and lastingly than praise. Which is very foolish, since enemies are, of course, the necessary concomitant of any robust life, the very proof of its strength.”
Thomas Mann

Vladimir Nabokov
“We must thank fate (and the author’s thirst for universal fame) for his not having turned to the Ukrainian dialect as a medium of expression, because then he would have been lost. When I want a good nightmare I imagine Gogol penning in Little Russian dialect volume after volume of Dikanka and Mirgorod stuff about ghosts haunting the banks of the Dniepr, burlesque Jews and dashing Cossacks.”
Vladimir Nabokov, Nikolai Gogol

“Se ciò che ci distingue dagli altri membri del regno animale è la parola, allora la letteratura - e la poesia, in particolare, è la sua forma più alta - è, per dirla senza mezzi termini, lo scopo della nostra specie.”
Iosif Brodskij

“Sometimes, I marvel at the wonder
of how graceful words seem to appear
pen to paper; in others' hands

And I think to myself-
oh, how obsolete my existence is,
to be unable to do the same.”
Joy Chua

Roberto Bolaño
“Escolhia A Metamorfose em vez de o Processo, escolha Bartleby em vez de Moby Dick, escolhia Um Coração Simples em vez de Bouvard e Pécuchet, e Um Conto de Natal em vez de Um conto de duas cidades ou de As aventuras do sr. Picwick. Que triste paradoxo, pensou Amalfitano. Nem mais os farmacêuticos ilustrados se atrevem a grandes obras, imperfeitas, torrenciais, as que abrem caminhos no desconhecido. Escolhem os exercícios perfeitos dos grandes mestres. Ou o que dá na mesma: querem ver os grandes mestres em sessões de treino de esgrima, mas não querem saber dos combates de verdade, nos quais os grandes mestres lutam contra aquilo, esse aquilo que atemoriza a todos nós, esses aquilo que acovarda e põe na defensiva, e há sangue e ferimentos mortais e fetidez.”
Roberto Bolaño

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