quotations about literature
Literature is the one place in any society where, within the secrecy of our own heads, we can hear voices talking about everything in every possible way.
SALMAN RUSHDIE, speech, Feb. 6, 1990
Literature is the garden of wisdom.
JAMES ELLIS, attributed, Day's Collacon
Once you allow yourself to identify with the people in a story, then you might begin to see yourself in that story even if on the surface it's far removed from your situation. This is what I try to tell my students: this is one great thing that literature can do -- it can make us identify with situations and people far away. If it does that, it's a miracle.
CHINUA ACHEBE, The Altantic Online, Aug. 2, 2000
Literature is a vast forest and the masterpieces are the lakes, the towering trees or strange trees, the lovely, eloquent flowers, the hidden caves, but a forest is also made up of ordinary trees, patches of grass, puddles, clinging vines, mushrooms, and little wildflowers.
ROBERTO BOLANO, 2666
An interchange of literature is the conversation of nations.
EDWARD COUNSEL, Maxims
Literature is subservient to nothing but truth.
GAO XINGJIAN, "Literature as Testimony: The Search for Truth", Witness Literature: Proceedings of the Nobel Centennial Symposium
The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order.
JEAN COCTEAU, attributed, Where Books Fall Open
Literature is a great staff, but a very sorry crutch.
SIR WALTER SCOTT, attributed, Day's Collacon
While thoughts exist, words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living.
CYRIL CONNOLLY, The Unquiet Grave
To subvert is not the aim of literature, its value lies in discovering and revealing what is rarely known, little known, thought to be known but in fact not very well known of the truth of the human world. It would seem that truth is the unassailable and most basic quality of literature.
GAO XINGJIAN, Nobel Lecture, 2000
We think literature is immortal, but even that decays and ultimately turns to dust.
MICK FARREN, Darklost
I expected more from literature than from real, naked life.
GUNTER GRASS, The Tin Drum
There is a form of literature that is a deed, and a form that is only talk, and the latter passes away like a conversation.
AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought
The things that are said in literature are always the same. What is important is the way they are said.
JORGE LUIS BORGES, The Paris Review, winter-spring 1967
Literature: The art of putting old words into new places.
EDWARD BLANCHARD, Flights of Fancy
Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.
FERNANDO PESSOA, The Book of Disquiet
Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.
NEIL GAIMAN, American Gods
The history of literature is the history of the human mind.
WILLIAM HICKLING PRESCOTT, "Chateaubriand's English Literature", Critical and Historical Essays
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.
JORGE LUIS BORGES, "Note on (toward) Bernard Shaw", Other Inquisitions
All literature is but a word--a thought--a maxim amplified.
EDWARD COUNSEL, Maxims