Literature Quotes

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All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.

The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it.
Literary imagination is an aesthetic object offered by a writer to a lover of books.
Only those things are beautiful which are inspired by madness and written by reason.
Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book-friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.
Literature is a defense against the attacks of life. It says to life: You can't deceive me. I know your habits, foresee and enjoy watching all your reactions, and steal your secret by involving you in cunning obstructions that halt your normal flow.
Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.
The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.
People do not deserve to have good writings; they are so pleased with the bad.
How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.
The hardest thing to do is to write straight honest prose on human beings. First you have to know the subject; then you have to know how to write. Both take a lifetime to learn, and anybody is cheating who takes politics as a way out. All the outs are too easy, and the thing itself is too hard to do.
It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature.
The liveliness of literature lies in its exceptionality, in being the individual, idiosyncratic vision of one human being, in which, to our delight and great surprise, we may find our own vision reflected.
Only the more rugged mortals should attempt to keep up with current literature.
The writer in western civilization has become not a voice of his tribe, but of his individuality. This is a very narrow-minded situation.
Literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal apparatus by conscience in touch with humanity.
If the most significant characteristic of man is the complex of biological needs he shares with all members of his species, then the best lives for the writer to observe are those in which the role of natural necessity is clearest, namely, the lives of the very poor.
Literature is without proofs. By which it must be understood that it cannot prove, not only what it says, but even that it is worth the trouble of saying it.
In the present age, alas! our pens are ravished by unlettered authors and unmannered critics, that make a havoc rather than a building, a wilderness rather than a garden. But, a lack! what boots it to drop tears upon the preterit?
Do not worry about the incarnation of ideas. If you are a poet, your works will contain them without your knowledge -- they will be both moral and national if you follow your inspiration freely.
The great standard of literature as to purity and exactness of style is the Bible.
Literature is not exhaustible, for the sufficient and simple reason that a single book is not. A book is not an isolated entity: it is a narration, an axis of innumerable narrations. One literature differs from another, either before or after it, not so much because of the text as for the manner in which it is read.
A losing trade, I assure you, sir: literature is a drug.
All literature is political.
English literature is a kind of training in social ethics. English trains you to handle a body of information in a way that is conducive to action.
When politicians and politically minded people pay too much attention to literature, it is a bad sign -- a bad sign mostly for literature. But it is also a bad sign when they don't want to hear the word mentioned.
The struggle of literature is in fact a struggle to escape from the confines of language; it stretches out from the utmost limits of what can be said; what stirs literature is the call and attraction of what is not in the dictionary.
All literature is gossip.
There is a great discovery still to be made in literature, that of paying literary men by the quantity they do not write.
When a book, any sort of book, reaches a certain intensity of artistic performance it becomes literature. That intensity may be a matter of style, situation, character, emotional tone, or idea, or half a dozen other things. It may also be a perfection of control over the movement of a story similar to the control a great pitcher has over the ball.
Speak of the moderns without contempt, and of the ancients without idolatry.
The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order.
One learns little more about a man from his feats of literary memory than from the feats of his alimentary canal.
Just as it is true that a stream cannot rise above its source, so it is true that a national literature cannot rise above the moral level of the social conditions of the people from whom it derives its inspiration.
Literature transforms and intensifies ordinary language, deviates systematically from everyday speech. If you approach me at a bus stop and murmur Thou still unravished bride of quietness, then I am instantly aware that I am in the presence of the literary.
When we read of human beings behaving in certain ways, with the approval of the author, who gives his benediction to this behavior by his attitude towards the result of the behavior arranged by himself, we can be influenced towards behaving in the same way.
If you look at history you'll find that no state has been so plagued by its rulers as when power has fallen into the hands of some dabbler in philosophy or literary addict.
The artist is of no importance. Only what he creates is important, since there is nothing new to be said. Shakespeare, Balzac, Homer have all written about the same things, and if they had lived one thousand or two thousand years longer, the publishers wouldn't have needed anyone since.
Only two classes of books are of universal appeal. The very best and the very worst.
To provoke dreams of terror in the slumber of prosperity has become the moral duty of literature.