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quotations about memory

Man's memory shapes its own Eden within.

In memory everything seems to happen to music.


We are all looking for something of extraordinary importance whose nature we have forgotten; I am writing the memoirs of a man who has lost his memory.

EUGENE IONESCO, Present Past / Past Present

Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by so quick you can hardly catch it going.

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore

Memory is the mother of all wisdom.

AESCHYLUS, Prometheus Bound

Honeymooning, moonlighting, late for the Proms,
Our echoes die in that corridor and now
I come as Hansel came on the moonlit stones
Retracing the path back, lifting the buttons.

SEAMUS HEANEY, The Underground

What an insidious drug memory can be. Especially the memory of unhappiness.


Memory breeds in me strange loneliness.


No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car.


Hindsight is of little value in the decision-making process. It distorts our memory for events that occurred at the time of the decision so that the actual consequence seems to have been a "foregone conclusion." Thus, it may be difficult to learn from our mistakes.

DIANE F. HALPERN, Thought and Knowledge

I think you remember everything ... you just can't bring it to mind all the time.

EDWARD ALBEE, Three Tall Women

If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out.

JANE AUSTEN, Mansfield Park

Memory quote

Remembering. I am half-smiling at ridiculous situations, crazy people and strange places, all with the benefit of hindsight. I admit I am choosing my memories selectively. I am quickening time, losing years and even improving my looks. I have never included the bad side which, I know, is an integral part of one's memories. That was not for me.

JOHN KEMP, Sticky Wicket

There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened.


It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.

LEWIS CARROLL, Alice Through the Looking Glass

No matter how long we exist, we have our memories. Points in time which time itself cannot erase. Suffering may distort my backward glances, but even to suffering, some memories will yield nothing of ther beauty or their splendor. Rather they remain as hard as gems.

ANNE RICE, Blood and Gold

Reminiscences make one feel so deliciously aged and sad.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, The Irrational Knot

A person who has not completely lost the memory of paradise, even though it is a faint one, will suffer endlessly. He will feel the call of the essential world, will hear the voice that comes from so far away that one cannot find out where it comes from, a voice that cannot guide him.

EUGENE IONESCO, Present Past / Past Present

What if we're all like that? Like ghosts ... in someone's mind ... gradually fading ... fading ... until finally ... one day ... we just disappear ... drift into nothingness. Wouldn't that be sad?


The more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.


The past scampers like an alley cat through the present, leaving the paw prints of memories scattered helter-skelter.


Night-dreams trace on Memory's wall
Shadows of the thoughts of day,
And thy fortunes, as they fall,
The bias of the will betray.


Memories are contrary things; if you quit chasing them and turn your back, they often return on their own.


The memory has as many moods as the temper, and shifts its scenery like a diorama.

GEORGE ELIOT, Middlemarch

Memory quote

I was shaking all over, and it wasn't from the vampire. Memories have teeth, too.


Alzheimer's ... it is a barren disease, as empty and lifeless as a desert. It is a thief of hearts and souls and memories.


We don't forget.... Our heads may be small, but they are as full of memories as the sky may sometimes be full of swarming bees, thousands and thousands of memories, of smells, of places, of little things that happened to us and which came back, unexpectedly, to remind us who we are.

ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food.

AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought

Memories are nothing but the lash with which yesterday flogs tomorrow.

PHILIP MOELLER, The Roadhouse in Arden

Still Time, great wizard of this earth,
Who holds o'er human minds such sway!
Oft bids to scenes of later birth
Old recollections to give way.

ANNE S. BUSHBY, "Florinda"

Memory may be but a power of coming to the treasury of Fact,
A momentary self-desertion, an absence in spirit from the now,
An actual coursing hither and thither, by the mind, slipped from its leash,
A life, as in the mystery of dreams, spent within the limits of a moment.

MARTIN FARQUHAR TUPPER, Proverbial Philosophy

If we lose our memory, we lose ourselves. Forgetting is one of the symptoms of death. Without memory we cease to be human beings.

IVAN KLIMA, speech at conference in Lahti, Finland, 1990

Memory is a great deceiver: it embroiders until naught is left but the glory and the pleasure.

TOBSHA LEARNER, The Witch of Cologne

Our memories are card-indexes consulted and then put back in disorder by authorities whom we do not control.

CYRIL CONNOLLY, The Unquiet Grave

In memory everything seems to happen to music.

Memory itself is an internal rumour; and when to this hearsay within the mind we add the falsified echoes that reach us from others, we have but a shifting and unseizable basis to build upon. The picture we frame of the past changes continually and grows every day less similar to the original experience which it purports to describe.

GEORGE SANTAYANA, The Life of Reason

To an old memory like mine the present days are but as a little water poured on the deep.


Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history. No commandment figures so frequently, so insistently, in the Bible. It is incumbent upon us to remember the good we have received, and the evil we have suffered.

ELIE WIESEL, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 11, 1986

My memories pale as I prevail upon them again and again. They become more and more ghostly. I fear nothing so much as losing them altogether and having only my blank endless mind to live in.

E. L. DOCTOROW, Homer & Langley

Our memories tell us who we are and they cannot be achieved through committee work, by consulting other people about what happened. That doesn't mean that at all times memories are telling us the absolute truth, but that the main source of who we are is that memory, flawed or not.

TOBIAS WOLFF, Continuum, summer 1998

I regard memory not as a phenomenon preserving one thing and losing another merely by chance, but as a power that deliberately places events in order or wisely omits them. Everything we forget about our own lives was really condemned to oblivion by an inner instinct long ago.

STEFAN ZWEIG, The World of Yesterday

You don't remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened.

JOHN GREEN, An Abundance of Katherines

Man's memory shapes
Its own Eden within.


Browse Memory Quotes II

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Memory - Wikipedia article.

Memory - BBC video on memory.

Memory Improvement Techniques

Memory - Exploratorium exhibition.

How to Remember Things


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