Top Literature And Life Quotes

Browse top 57 famous quotes and sayings about Literature And Life by most favorite authors.

Favorite Literature And Life Quotes

1. "The next time you feel yourself giving in to the sometimes overwhelming urge to panic about the fate of literature in the digital age, follow this simple remedy: remember that you dream. For that is ironclad proof . . . that literature—that narrative art in whatever form—will never die. Humans, strange creatures that we are, make sense of our lives by telling stories. In the space between each day and the next, we refresh our minds by concocting the most fantastic and elaborate fictions. We spend roughly a third of our lives thus, re-arranging our scattered experiences into stories. That we do it at all is bizarre and inexplicable. But as long as we do it, we will crave stories—human stories, stories that speak to us—in our waking life. The Internet, powerful as it is, cannot change that."
Author: Adam Hammond
2. "I asked Geertrui the other day what she thought love is-real love, true love. She said that for her real love is observing another person and being observed by another person with complete attention. If she's right, you only have to look at the pictures Rembrandt painted of Titus, and there are quite a lot, to see that they loved each other. Because that is what you're seeing. Complete attention, one of the other..."but in that case," he said, speaking the words as the thought came to him, "all art is love, because all art is about looking closely, isn't it? Looking closely at what's being painted.""The artist looking closely while he paints, the viewer looking closely at what has been painted. I agree. All true art, yes. Painting, Writing-literature-also. I think it is. And bad art is a failure to observe with complete attention. So, you see why I like the history of art. It's the study of how to observe life with complete attention. It's the history of love."
Author: Aidan Chambers
3. "In literature one has the best company in the world at complete command; one also has the worst. One has a social conscience which dissuades one from harbouring unprofitable company in life, and I find that my two canons are a great aid and support for an analogous literary conscience which speaks up against consorting with unprofitable company in literature."
Author: Albert Jay Nock
4. "Humans were so preoccupied with love. They were all desperate to form an attachment to one person they could refer to as their other half. It seemed from my reading of literature that being in love meant becoming the beloveds entire world. The rest of the universe paled into insignificance compared to the lovers. When they were separated, each fell into a melancholy state, and only when they were reunited did their hearts start beating again. Only when they were together could really see the colors of the world. When they were apart, that color leached away, leaving everything a hazy gray. I lay in bed, wondering about the intensity of this emotion that was so irrational and so irrefutably human. What if a persons face was so sacred to you it was permanently inscribed in your memory? What if their smell and touch were dearer to you than life itself?"
Author: Alexandra Adornetto
5. "Literature might be called the art of story, and story might in turn be called a universal language, for every culture we know of has a tradition of storytelling. No doubt stories have touched your life, too, from bedtime stories you may have heard as a child to news stories you see on TV or read in a newspaper. We might even say that a major goal of living is to created the story of our own lives, a story we hope to take pleasure and pride in telling."
Author: Andrea A. Lunsford
6. "The makers of literature are those who have seen and felt the miraculous interestingness of the universe. If you have formed...literary taste...your life will be one long ecstasy of denying that the world is a dull place."
Author: Arnold Bennett
7. "Literature is a way in which we can learn to live deeper lives -- husband with wife, parent with child, brother with sister, fellow member with fellow member. Most good authors are better than we are. They are much better company than our own friends. What comes from good company? What comes from good company is better manners, greater sensitivity, greater sensibility, greater empathy, great sympathy. Reading good literature makes us more capable of understanding other people, of loving other people, those whom we don't particularly want to love, even our enemies, as well as those closest to us. How can we expect to have full marriages when we are not going into those marriages with full minds and fine sensibilities? We are ignoring the tremendous possibilities of a delicate, well-poised, rich, sensitive life if we ignore the literature of the past. There is no substitute."
Author: Arthur Henry King
8. "Like symbolism, decadence puts forth the idea that the function of literature is to evoke impressions and 'correspondences', rather than to realistically depict the world. ... the decadent aestheticized decay and took pleasure in perversity. In decadent literature, sickness is preferable to health, not only because sickness was regarded as more interesting, but because sickness was construed as subversive, as a threat to the very fabric of society. By embracing the marginal, the unhealthy and the deviant, the decadents attacked bourgeois life, which they perceived as the chief enemy of art."
Author: Asti Hustvedt
9. "Perhaps the critics are right: this generation may not produce literature equal to that of any past generation--who cares? The writer will be dead before anyone can judge him--but he must go on writing, reflecting disorder, defeat, despair, should that be all he sees at the moment, but ever searching for the elusive love, joy, and hope--qualities which, as in the act of life itself, are best when they have to be struggled for, and are not commonly come by with much ease, either by a critic's formula or by a critic's yearning."
Author: Bill Styron
10. "One day at Fenner's (the university cricket ground at Cambridge), just before the last war, G. H. Hardy and I were talking about Einstein. Hardy had met him several times, and I had recently returned from visiting him. Hardy was saying that in his lifetime there had only been two men in the world, in all the fields of human achievement, science, literature, politics, anything you like, who qualified for the Bradman class. For those not familiar with cricket, or with Hardy's personal idiom, I ought to mention that "the Bradman class" denoted the highest kind of excellence: it would include Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Newton, Archimedes, and maybe a dozen others. Well, said Hardy, there had only been two additions in his lifetime. One was Lenin and the other Einstein."
Author: C.P. Snow
11. "I was already devouring literature and I was the ripe old age of 15 when I decided to be an actor. I just thought plays were the most fantastic way of expressing life. I thought I'd discovered Shakespeare - 'hey, there's a new guy in town, don't know if anyone's read him.' I was just excited about the whole thing, from day one."
Author: Chiwetel Ejiofor
12. "Language can't describe reality. Literature has no stable reference, no real meaning. Each reader's interpretation is equally valid, more important than the author's intention. In fact, nothing in life has meaning. Reality is subjective. Values and truths are subjective. Life itself is a kind of illusion. Blah, blah, blah, let's have another scotch."
Author: Dean Koontz
13. "Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted. And while it is true that literature and history contain heroic, romantic, glorious, even triumphant episodes in an exile's life, these are no more than efforts meant to overcome the crippling sorrow of estrangement."
Author: Edward W. Said
14. "Violence commands both literature and life, and violence is always crude and distorted."
Author: Ellen Glasgow
15. "To write is to forget. Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life. Music soothes, the visual arts exhilarates, the performing arts (such as acting and dance) entertain. Literature, however, retreats from life by turning in into slumber. The other arts make no such retreat— some because they use visible and hence vital formulas, others because they live from human life itself. This isn't the case with literature. Literature stimulates life. A novel is a story of what never was, a play is a novel without narration. A poem is the expression of ideas or feelings a language no one uses, because no one talks in verse."
Author: Fernando Pessoa
16. "The Algerian fidaï, unlike the unbalanced anarchists made famous in literature, does not take dope. The fidaï does not need to be unaware of danger, to befog his consciousness, or to forgot. The "terrorist," from the moment he undertakes an assignment, allows death to enter into his soul. He has a rendezvous with death.The fidaï, on the other hand, has a rendezvous with the life of the Revolution, and with his own life. The fidaï is not one of the sacrificed. To be sure, he does not shrink before the possibility of losing his life or the independence of his country, but at no moment does he choose death."
Author: Frantz Fanon
17. "It is the modern literature of the educated, not of the uneducated, which is avowedly and aggressively criminal..The vast mass of humanity, with their vast mass of idle books and idle words, have never doubted and never will doubt that courage is splendid, that fidelity is noble, that distressed ladies should be rescued, and vanquished enemies spared. There are a large number of cultivated persons who doubt these maxims of daily life."
Author: G.K. Chesterton
18. "The 1980s witnessed radical advances in the theorisation of the study of literature in the universities. It had begun in France in the 1960s and it made a large impact on the higher education establishments of Britain and America. New life was breathed into psychoanalytic and Marxist theory, while structuralism gave way to post-structuralism. The stability of the text as a focus of study was challenged by deconstruction, a theory developed by the French philosopher, Jacques Derrida, which represented a complete fracture with the old liberal-formalist mode of reading. Coherence and unity were seen as illusory and readers were liberated to aim at their own meanings. Hardy's texts were at the centre of these theoretical movements, including one that came to prominence in the 1980s, feminism."
Author: Geoffrey Harvey
19. "Reading is a sage way to bump up against life. Reading may be an escape, but it is not an escape from my own life and problems.  It is an escape from the narrow boundaries of being only me. Reading in some wonderful ways helps me find out who I am. When she was a young girl Patricia MacLachlan's mother encouraged her to "read a book and find out who you are." And it is true that in some ways reading defines me as it refines me. Reading enlarges my vision of the world; it helps me understand someone who is different from me. It makes me bigger on the inside. We tend to see the world from our own perspective; it is good to see it from the eyes of others. Good literature helps me understand who I am in relation to what others experience. Far from being an escape from reality, good literature is a window into reality. I read to feel life."
Author: Gladys Hunt
20. "They were allowed a little touch at each of the books, but only with their fingertips tonight, literature cannot bear dirty hands; first we'll have to back each volume with paper, the covers must not get dirty, nor the spines slit, books are the nation's most precious possession, books have preserved the nation's life through monopoly, pestilence, and volcanic eruption, not to mention the tons of snow that have lain over the country's widely scattered homesteads for the major part of every one of its thousand years."
Author: Halldór Laxness
21. "Art is made by those who consider themselves to have failed at whatever isn't art. And of course it is loved as consolation, or a call to arms, by those who feel the same. One of the reasons there seem to be fewer readers for literature today than there were yesterday is that the concept of failure has been outlawed. If we are all beautiful, all clever, all happy, all successes in our way, what do we want with the language of the dispossessed? But the nature of failure ensures that writers will go on writing no matter how many readers they have. You have to master the embarrassments and ignominies of life."
Author: Howard Jacobson
22. "Literature differs from life in that life is amorphously full of detail, and rarely directs us toward it, wheras literature teaches us to notice. Literature makes us better noticers of life; we get to practice on life itself; which in turn makes us better readers of detail in literature; which in turn makes us better readers of life."
Author: James Wood
23. "We've inherited many ideas about writing that emerged in the eighteenth century, especially an interest in literature as both an expression and an exploration of the self. This development ? part of what distinguishes the "modern" from the "early modern" ? has shaped the work of many of our most celebrated authors, whose personal experiences indelibly and visibly mark their writing. It's fair to say that the fiction and poetry of many of the finest writers of the past century or so ? and I'm thinking here of Conrad, Proust, Lawrence, Joyce, Woolf, Kafka, Plath, Ellison, Lowell, Sexton, Roth, and Coetzee, to name but a few ? have been deeply autobiographical. The link between the life and the work is one of the things we're curious about and look for when we pick up the latest book by a favorite author."
Author: James Shapiro
24. "An acquaintanceship with the literature of the world may be won by any person who will devote half an hour a day to the careful reading of the best books. The habit of reading good books is one that gives great comfort in all the stages and among all the vicissitudes of life. The man who has learned to love good reading is never alone. His friends are the great ones of human history, and to them he may always go for stimulating and helpful communion. --GQ 71 (GQ is A Guide for Quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood, 3rd Edition, 1930)"
Author: John Andreas Widtsoe
25. "Science has discovered that, like any work of literature, the human genome is a text in need of commentary, for what Eliot said of poetry is also true of DNA: 'all meanings depend on the key of interpretation.' What makes us human, and what makes each of us his or her own human, is not simply the genes that we have buried into our base pairs, but how our cells, in dialogue with our environment, feed back to our DNA, changing the way we read ourselves. Life is a dialectic."
Author: Jonah Lehrer
26. "He lived within himself, nourished by his own substance, like some torpid creature which hibernates in caves. Solitude had reacted upon his brain like a narcotic. After having strained and enervated it, his mind had fallen victim to a sluggishness which annihilated his plans, broke his will power and invoked a cortège of vague reveries to which he passively submitted.The confused medley of meditations on art and literature in which he had indulged since his isolation, as a dam to bar the current of old memories, had been rudely swept away, and the onrushing, irresistible wave crashed into the present and future, submerging everything beneath the blanket of the past, filling his mind with an immensity of sorrow, on whose surface floated, like futile wreckage, absurd trifles and dull episodes of his life."
Author: Joris Karl Huysmans
27. "Modern civilization depends on science … James Smithson was well aware that knowledge should not be viewed as existing in isolated parts, but as a whole, each portion of which throws light on all the other, and that the tendency of all is to improve the human mind, and give it new sources of power and enjoyment … narrow minds think nothing of importance but their own favorite pursuit, but liberal views exclude no branch of science or literature, for they all contribute to sweeten, to adorn, and to embellish life … science is the pursuit above all which impresses us with the capacity of man for intellectual and moral progress and awakens the human intellect to aspiration for a higher condition of humanity.[Joseph Henry was the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, named after its benefactor, James Smithson.]"
Author: Joseph Henry
28. "Flaubert teaches you to gave upon the truth and not blink from its consequences; he teaches you, with Montaigne, to sleep on the pillow of doubt; he teaches you to dissect out the constituent parts of reality, and to observe the Nature is always a mixture of genres; he teaches you the most exact use of language; he teaches you not to approach a book in search of moral or social pills -- literature is not a pharmacopoeia; he teaches the pre-eminence of Truth, Beauty, Feeling and Style. And if you study his private life, he teaches courage, stoicism, friendship; the importance of intelligence, skepticism and wit; the folly of cheap patriotism; the virtue of being able to remain by yourself in your own room; the hatred of hypocrisy; distrust of the doctrinaire; the need for plain speaking."
Author: Julian Barnes
29. "Modernist literature with all its vast apparatus was an instrument, a form of perception, and once absorbed, the insights it brought could be rejected without its essence being lost, even the form endured, and it could then be applied to your own life, your own fascinations, which could then suddenly appear in a completely new and significant light."
Author: Karl Ove Knausgård
30. "No one who loves life can ignore literature, and no one who loves literature can ignore life."
Author: Laura Esquivel
31. "Literature is a source of pleasure, he said, it is one of the rare inexhaustible joys in life, but it's not only that. It must not be disassociated from reality. Everything is there. That is why I never use the word fiction. Every subtlety in life is material for a book. He insisted on the fact. Have you noticed, he'd say, that I'm talking about novels? Novels don't contain only exceptional situations, life or death choices, or major ordeals; there are also everyday difficulties, temptations, ordinary disappointments; and, in response, every human attitude, every type of behavior, from the finest to the most wretched. There are books where, as you read, you wonder: What would I have done? It's a question you have to ask yourself. Listen carefully: it is a way to learn to live. There are grown-ups who would say no, that literature is not life, that novels teach you nothing. They are wrong. Literature performs, instructs, it prepares you for life."
Author: Laurence Cossé
32. "O, great wise man,' she said, 'I have been wondering so many things. Is life more than sitting at home doing the same thing over and over? Wise man, is life more than watching one's relatives do unpleasant things, or more than grim tasks one must perform at school and at work? Is life more than being entertained by literature, wise man, or more than traveling from one place to another, suffering from poor emotional health and pondering the people one loves? And what about those who lead a life of mystery? And the mysteries of life? And, wise man, what about the overall feeling of doom that one cannot ever escape no matter what one does, and miscellaneous things that I have neglected to mention in specific?"
Author: Lemony Snicket
33. "And more even than the painter, the writer, in order to achieve volume and substance, in order to attain to generality and, so far as literature can, to reality, needs to have seen many churches in order to paint one church and for the portrayal of a single sentiment requires many individuals. For if art is long and life is short, we may on the other hand say that, if inspiration is short, the sentiments which it has to portray are not of much longer duration. It is our passions which draw the outline of our books, the ensuing intervals of repose which write them."
Author: Marcel Proust
34. "You always know more than you think you know without being aware of it. You always remember best what has hurt most.Memory is a reflex of the pain. Knowledge is the memory of the pain combined with the unconsciousness which we 'rationalize' via dreams or by means of reading literature. It is impossible to learn from someone else's experience unless we don't assume this experience as our own's, which we can achieve only by living it anew and from scratch. We can not live our lives at someone else's expense. Only life fraught with dangers and risks and lived as your own's deserves its name. Only selfish people do not live their lives as if they do not belong entirely to them. Cowardice equals a life that you refuse to live at its fullest and at its most dangerous."
Author: Martin Walser
35. "We read literature for a number of reasons, but two of the most compelling ones are to get out of ourselves and our own life stories and - especially important - to find ourselves by understanding our own life stories more clearly in the context of others."
Author: Maureen Corrigan
36. "Or on retiring to Prunesquallors' he might take down one of the Doctor's many books and read, for these days a passion to accumulate knowledge of any and every kind consumed him; but only as a means to an end. He must know all things, for only so might he have, when situations arose in the future, a full pack of cards to play from. He imagined himself occasions when the conversation of one from who he foresaw advancement might turn to astronomy, metaphysics, history, chemistry, or literature, and he realized that to be able to drop into the argument a lucid and exact thought, an opinion based on what might *appear* to be a life-time study, would instantaneously gain more for him than waiting until the conversation turned upon what lay within his scope of experience."
Author: Mervyn Peake
37. "One of the most brilliant Russian writers of the twentieth century, Yevgeny Zamyatin belongs to the tradition in Russian literature represented by Gogol, Leskov, Bely, Remizov, and, in certain aspects of their work, also by Babel and Bulgakov. It is a tradition, paradoxically, of experimenters and innovators. Perhaps the principal quality that unites them is their approach to reality and its uses in art - the refusal to be bound by literal fact, the interweaving of reality and fantasy, the transmutation of fact into poetry, often grotesque, oblique, playful, but always expressive of the writer's unique vision of life in his own, unique terms."
Author: Mirra Ginsburg
38. "You see the profound effect literature can have on life? Who says it's all a waste of time? If only I could produce one book that left someone with that kind of ferocious grievance. If you have read one of my books, you probably feel cheated out of however much money it might have cost you, and you'll certainly begrudge the time you wasted on it. But even at my most bullish and self-aggrandizing, I can't quite make myself believe that I've actually wrecked someone's life. Any documentary evidence to the contrary will be gratefully received."
Author: Nick Hornby
39. "He was conscious—and the thought brought a gleam of pleasure into his brown agate eyes—that it was through certain words of his, musical words said with musical utterance, that Dorian Gray's soul had turned to this white girl and bowed in worship before her. To a large extent the lad was his own creation. He had made him premature. That was something. Ordinary people waited till life disclosed to them its secrets, but to the few, to the elect, the mysteries of life were revealed before the veil was drawn away. Sometimes this was the effect of art, and chiefly of the art of literature, which dealt immediately with the passions and the intellect. But now and then a complex personality took the place and assumed the office of art, was indeed, in its way, a real work of art, life having its elaborate masterpieces, just as poetry has, or sculpture, or painting."
Author: Oscar Wilde
40. "Yet one had ancestors in literature as well as in one's own race, nearer perhaps in type and temperament, many of them, and certainly with an influence of which one was more absolutely conscious. There were times when it appeared to Dorian Gray that the whole of history was merely the record of his own life, not as he had lived in act and circumstance, but as his imagination had created it for him, as if it had been in his brain and in his passions. He felt that he had known them all, those strange terrible figures that had passed across the stage of the world and made sin so marvellous and evil so full of subtlety. It seemed to him that in some mysterious way their lives had been his own."
Author: Oscar Wilde
41. "If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant, I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of the Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw the corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human a life... again I should point to India."
Author: Plato
42. "Some things can't be explained. They just are. And after a while they disappear, usually forever, or become interesting in another way. Literature's consolations are always temporary, while life is quick to begin again. It is better not even to look so hard, to leave off explaining. Nothing makes me more queasy than to spend time with people who don't know that and who can't forget, and for whom such knowledge isn't a cornerstone of life."
Author: Richard Ford
43. "It's not that we have to quit this life one day, it's how many things we have to quit all at once: holding hands, hotel rooms, music, the physics of falling leaves, vanilla and jasmine, poppies, smiling, anthills, the color of the sky, coffee and cashmere, literature, sparks and subway trains... If only one could leave this life slowly!"
Author: Roman Payne
44. "In literature and in life we ultimately pursue, not conclusions, but beginnings."
Author: Sam Tanenhaus
45. "In the circle where I was raised, I knew of no one knowledgeable in the visual arts, no one who regularly attended musical performances, and only two adults other than my teachers who spoke without embarrassment of poetry and literature — both of these being women. As far as I can recall, I never heard a man refer to a good or a great book. I knew no one who had mastered, or even studied, another language from choice. And our articulate, conscious life proceeded without acknowledgement of the preceding civilisations which had produced it."
Author: Shirley Hazzard
46. "In a way, literature is true than life,' he said to himself. 'On paper, you say exactly and completely what you feel. How easy it is to break things off on paper! You hate, you shout, you kill, you commit suicide; you carry things to the very end. And that's why it's false. But it's damned satisfying. In life, you're constantly denying yourself, and others are always contradicting you. On paper, I make time stand still and I impose my convictions on the whole world; they become the only reality."
Author: Simone De Beauvoir
47. "The idea was flawed, of course," he said irritably. "Innately and fatally flawed. It depended on two of the human race's greatest myths: the possibility of permanence, and the simplicity of human nature. Both of which are all well and good in literature, but the purest fantasy outside the covers of a book. Our story should have stopped that night with the cold cocoa, the night we moved in: and they all lived happily ever after, the end. Inconveniently, however, real life demanded that we keep on living."
Author: Tana French
48. "I often like to think that our map of the world is wrong, that where we have centered physics, we should actually place literature as the central metaphor that we want to work out from. Because I think literature occupies the same relationship to life that life occupies to death. A book is life with one dimension pulled out of it. And life is something that lacks a dimension which death will give it. I imagine death to be a kind of release into the imagination in the sense that for characters in a book, what we experience is an unimaginable dimension of freedom."
Author: Terence McKenna
49. "He accepted the deformity which had made life so hard for him; he knew that it had warped his character, but no he saw also that by reason of it he had acquired that power of introspection which had given him so much delight. Without it he would never have had his keen appreciation of beauty, his passion for art and literature, and his interest in the varied spectacle of life. […] Then he saw that normal was the rarest thing in the world. Everyone had some defect of body or of mind […] The only reasonable thing was to accept the good of men and be patient with their faults."
Author: W. Somerset Maugham
50. "Literature is, to my mind, the great teaching power of the world, the ultimate creator of all values, and it is this, not only in the sacred books whose power everybody acknowledges, but by every movement of imagination in song or story or drama that height of intensity and sincerity has made literature at all. Literature must take the responsibility of its power, and keep all its freedom: it must be like the spirit and like the wind that blows where it listeth; it must claim its right to pierce through every crevice of human nature, and to descrive the relation of the soul and the heart to the facts of life and of law, and to describe that relation as it is, not as we would have it be..."
Author: W.B. Yeats

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I was smart enough to know that I shouldn't tell anyone the reason I needed that icy air. No need to spill the secret that I was the genius of all geniuses, the Leonardo da Vinci of the 1980s. That would just inspire envy and skepticism. So I'd just stare at the closed window and stew. If ten minutes went by without my lungs getting fresh air, I panicked. I needed to make sure the monoxide hadn't eaten my cranium."
Author: A.J. Jacobs

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