Littera Scripta

Literary Quotations Just for the fun of it, here are some quotations relating to literature. It's a purely arbitrary list. If you know of any good ones that I've missed, feel free to send them along. I might include them... then again, I might not. ;-)

Sir, the fact that a book is in the public library brings no comfort. Books are the one element in which I am personally and nakedly acquisitive. If it weren't for the law I would steal them. If it weren't for my purse I would buy them.

Harold Laski

Confronted by an absolutely infuriating review it is sometimes helpful for the victim to do a little personal research on the critic. Is there any truth to the rumor that he had no formal education beyond the age of eleven? In any event is he able to construct a simple English sentence? Do his participles dangle? When moved to lyricism does he write "I had a fun time"? Was he ever arrested for burglary? I don't know that you will prove anything this way, but it is perfectly harmless and quite soothing.

Jean Kerr

Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.

Don Marquis

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.

Robert Benchley

If I read a book that impresses me, I have to take myself firmly in hand before I mix with other people; otherwise they would think my mind rather queer.

Anne Frank

When people ask me what qualifies me to be a writer for children, I say I was once a child. But I was not only a child, I was, better still, a weird little kid, and although I would never choose to give my own children this particular preparation for life, there are few things, apparently, more helpful to a writer than having once been a weird little kid.

Katherine Paterson

Just how difficult it is to write biography can be reckoned by anybody who sits down and considers just how many people know the real truth about his or her love affairs.

Rebecca West

I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

Virginia Woolf

With sixty staring me in the face, I have developed inflammation of the sentence structure and a definite hardening of the paragraphs.

James Thurber

You know how it is in the kid's book world: It's just bunny eat bunny.


For I bless God in the libraries of the learned
and for all the booksellers in the world.

Christoper Smart; Jubilate Agno

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

Mark Strand

When I am dead, I hope it may be said
His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.

Hilaire Belloc

I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.

Peter De Vries

If you're looking for messages, try Western Union.

Ernest Hemingway

Writers are always selling somebody out.

Joan Didion

Give me a condor's quill! Give me Vesuvius' crater for an inkstand! ...To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.

Herman Melville; Moby Dick

I am at heart, a tiresome nag complacently positive that there is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.

Gore Vidal

If you are a novelist of a certain type of temperament, then what you really want to do is re-invent the world. God wasn't too bad a novelist except he was a Realist.

John Barth

La lecture de tous les bons livres est comme une converstion avec les plus honnêtes gens des siècles passés. (The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries.)

Rene Descartes; Le Discours de la Méthode

When I want to read a novel, I write one.

Benjamin Disraeli

The writer's only responsibility is to his art... If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of old ladies.

William Faulkner

Ni un solo momento, viejo hermoso Walt Whitman,
he dejado de ver tu barba Ilena de mariposas.

(Not for a moment, beautiful aged Walt Whitman,
have I ceased seeing your beard full of butterflies.)

Federico Garcia Lorca; Oda a Walt Whitman

An artist is his own fault.

John O'Hara; The Portable F. Scott Fitzgerald

Why does my muse only speak when she is unhappy?
She does not, I only listen when I am unhappy.

Stevie Smith; My Muse

I myself am more and more inclined to agree with Omar and Satchel Paige as I grow older:
Don't try to rewrite what the moving finger has writ, and don't ever look over your shoulder.

Ogden Nash; If a Boder meet a Boder, Need a Boder Cry? Yes

The blank page, difficult mirror,
gives back only what you were.

George Seferis; Summer Solstice

I have occasionally had the exquisite thrill of putting my finger on a little capsule of truth, and heard it give the faint squeak of mortality under my pressure.

E.B. White


Related Articles

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Recommended Books

Jon Winokur. The Portable Curmudgeon

Roy L. Stewart. Quotations With an Attitude : A Wickedly Funny Source Book

Steven Gilbar. Readers Quotation Book : A Literary Companion

John Bartlett, Justin Kaplan (Editor). Bartlett's Familiar Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs Traced to Their Sources in Ancient and Modern Literature

Helen Exley. Book Lovers Quotations

David A. Spector. Call Me Ishmael: 801 Memorable First and Last Lines in Literature

James Charlton (Editor). Fighting Words : Writers Lambast Other Writers-From Aristotle to Anne Rice

J. Kevin Graffagnino. Only in Books : Writers, Readers & Bibliophiles on Their Passion

Web Links

Mark Twain Quotations, Newspaper Collections, and Related Resources

Literary Quotations

Barlett's Familiar Quotations - searchable

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