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"Qui regardait les mains du bourreau pendant la flagellation, les oliviers sur le chemin de la Croix? Mais les voici représentés."                                             Albert Camus, L'homme révolté


"Les jeunes filles en fleur rient et jacassent éternellement devant la mer, mais celui qui les contemple perd peu à peu le droit de les aimer, comme celles qu'il a aimées perdent le pouvoir de l'être." 

                                                               Albert Camus, L'homme révolté


"The last time and the first time are really the only time we ever see anything."

                                                            William Eastlake, Portrait of an Artist with Twenty-six Horses


"It was wrong, then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences (like the meeting of Anna, Vronsky, the railway station, and death, or the meeting of Tomas, Tereza, Beethoven, and the cognac), but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life, for he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty."

                                                                                Milan Kundera


"Trees fall with spectacular crashes. But planting is silent and growth is invisible."

                                                                                Powers, The Overstory




"Did you ever see anything so — so affreux as — as everything?"  Henry James via an eighth-order Eddington monkey.

                                                                              Scientific American



"So far as possible, the student should confine himself to the vocabulary he has acquired in his reading of Latin prose authors; and he should never use a word which is not familiar to him unless he has taken the trouble to ascertain that it is employed by Caesar, or by Cicero (in his speeches) or by Livy. These three great prose writers had occasion to describe every human emotion and almost every kind of human experience; and they consequently provide a vocabulary which is sufficient for all the ordinary needs of prose composition."


                                                p. 302 Bradley's Arnold Latin Prose Composition, edited by J. F. Mountford.




"My dear fellow, we sit here on a blind rock careening through space; we are all of us rushing headlong to the grave. Think you the worms will care, when anon they make a meal of you, whether you spent your moment sighing wigless in your chamber, or sacked the golden towns of Montezuma?"

                                                                            John Barth, The Sot-weed Factor



"At least in the life of the mind, ventures should be carried through to the end."

                                                                                      N. O. Brown, Love's Body



"Les enfants transposent peut-être, mais ils n'inventent pas."                   Simenon, Maigret à l'école

"I was way past the age when it's fun to swear at people you can't hurt." Raymond Chandler, "Finger Man"


“The madman’s explanation of a thing is always complete, and often in a purely rational sense, satisfactory. Or, to speak more strictly, the insane explanation, if not conclusive, is at least unanswerable; this may be observed especially in the two or three commonest kinds of madness.

“If a man says (for instance) that men have a conspiracy against him, you cannot dispute it except by saying that all the men deny that they are conspirators, which is exactly what conspirators would do. His explanation covers the facts as much as yours.

“Or if a man says that he is the rightful King of England, it is no complete answer to say that the existing authorities call him mad, for if he were King of England, that might be the wisest thing for the existing authorities to do.

“Or if a man says that he is Jesus Christ, it is no answer to tell him that the world denies his divinity, for the world denied Christ’s.

. . .

“The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.”                                                               G.K. Chesterton



dirvi ch'i' sia, saria parlare indarno,

ché'l nome mio ancor molto non suona.    Dante, Purgatorio14


"The wrong things are said when there is nothing that can be said." (Tomas Tomas)

                                                            William Eastlake, Portrait of an Artist with Twenty-six Horses


"Nous ne savons jamais vraiment ce qu'est la stupidité avant d'avoir experimenté sur nous-mêmes."  Paul Gauguin


"On one side are those who, like Auden, sense the furies hidden in themselves, evils they hope never to unleash, but which, they sometimes perceive, add force to their ordinary angers and resentments, especially those angers they prefer to think are righteous. On the other side are those who can say of themselves without irony, 'I am a good person,' who perceive great evils only in other, evil people whose motives and actions are entirely different from their own. This view has dangerous consequences when a party or nation, having assured itself of its inherent goodness, assumes its actions are therefore justified, even when, in the eyes of everyone else, they seem murderous and oppressive."

                                                   Edward Mendelson, New York Review of Books, 20 March 2014.

Harold Transome:

". . . as for the food, it would be the finest thing in the world for this country if the southern cooks would change their religion, get persecuted, and fly to England, as the old silk-weavers did."

                                                                             George Eliot, Felix Holt, the Radical.




“it’s one thing to read poetry, it’s another thing to try to beat the horses.”

Chris Fiore.


"A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor."

                                                                                    Ring Lardner, 1924


"I began to send off poems that were published. Fortunately no one reads published poems. It's the best way of keeping a secret."

                                                            William Eastlake, Portrait of an Artist with Twenty-six Horses


"Just so with the poet — he deserves not the name while he only speaks out his few subjective feelings; but as soon as he can appropriate to himself, and express, the world, he is a poet. Then he is inexhaustible, and can always be new; while  subjective nature has soon talked out his little internal material, and is at last ruined by mannerism. People always talk of the study of the ancients; but what does that mean, except that it says, turn your attention to the real world, and try to express it  — for that is what the ancients did."

                                                                                Johann von Goethe, tr. John Oxenford

"Verse no longer stands at the center of communicative discourse. It is no longer, as it was from Homer to Milton, the natural repository of knowledge and traditional sentiment. It no longer gives to society the main record of past grandeur or its natural setting for prphecy, as it did in Virgil and Dante. Verse has grown private. It is a special language which the individual  poet insinuates, by force of personal genius, into the awareness of his contemporaries, persuading them to learn and perhaps hand on his own uses of words. Poetry has become essentially lyric — that is to say, it is poetry of private vision rather than of public or of national occasion.. . ."

                                                                                      George Steiner, The Death of Tragedy




The songs I had are withered

Or vanished clean,

Yet there are bright tracks

Where I have been,


And there grow flowers

For others' delight.

Think well, O singer,

Soon comes night.


(Ivor Gurney)


"In der Beschränkung zeigt sich erst der Meister,

Und das Gesetz nur kann uns Freiheit geben."

                                                                   Goethe,  "Natur und Kunst"

            "Si vous avez du pain, et si moi j'ai un euro, si je vous achète le pain, j'aurai le pain et vous aurez l'euro et vous voyez dans cet échange un équilibre, c'est-à-dire: A a un euro, B un pain. Et dans l'autre cas B a le pain et A a l'euro. Donc, c'est un équilibre parfait.

            "Mais, si vous avez un sonnet de Verlaine, ou le théorème de Pythagore, er que moi je n'ai rien, et si vous me les enseignez, à la fin de cet échange-là, j'aurai le sonnet et le théorème, mais vous les aurez gardés.

            "Dans le premier cas, il y a un équilibre, c'est la marchandise, dans le second il y a accroissement, c'est la culture."                                       Michel Serres

"Falstaff lives because he is not Shakespeare; Nora, because she is not Ibsen. Indeed, their power of life is greatly superior to that of their begetters. Even if Sophocles were only a name whereby to designate an unknown, as is that of Homer, Oedipus and Antigone would be indestructibly vital. . . . What knowledge need we have of Racine to experience the extreme life of Iphigénie or Phèdre? Doubtless, thre creation of a dramatic character is related to the private genius of the dramatist. But we do not really know how. . . . But whatever their relationship to the source of invention, dramatic personages assume their own integral being. They lead their own life beyond the mortality of the poet. We have not, and need not have, adequate biographies of Aeschylus or Shakespeare."

                                                                                                    George Steiner, The Death of Tragedy




Frank Sidgwick to Ivor Gurney: "I don't care how hard you make the reader's literary difficulties, but you must place him in possession of the facts." 

                                                                       Kate Kennedy, Dweller in Shadows


"Thus the unfacts, did we possess them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude."

                                                                         James Joyce, Finnegans Wake


   "But where's the man, who counsel can bestow,
Still pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know?
Unbias'd, or by favour or by spite;
Not dully prepossess'd, nor blindly right;
Though learn'd, well-bred; and though well-bred, sincere;
Modestly bold, and humanly severe?
Who to a friend his faults can freely show,
And gladly praise the merit of a foe?
Blest with a taste exact, yet unconfin'd;
A knowledge both of books and human kind;
Gen'rous converse; a soul exempt from pride;
And love to praise, with reason on his side?"

                                                                       Alexander Pope, "An Essay on Criticism"





"Once you've played Lady Macbeth, you can never play Juliet again."

                                                               Matthew Lopez (quoted in The New Yorker)


"'I want to live,' she screams, 'where I can see!'"              Robert Lowell

"Chaque génération évoque un paradis perdu, tout en regrettant de n'être pas née plus tôt."

                                                                              Robert Solé, Un soirée au Caire



"В текущем времени всегда есть от­рава."                Nadezhda Mandelstam "Mozart and Salieri".


Сейчас, как никогда, эму было ясно, что искусство всегда, не переставая, занято двумя вещами. Оно неотступно размышляет о смерти и неотступно творит этим жизнь.

                                                                                                           Boris Pasternak, Доктор Живаго



1. Le droit de ne pas lire.

2. Le droit de sauter les pages.

3. l droit de ne pas finir un livre.

4. Le droit de relire.

5. Le droit de lire n'importe quoi.

6. Le droit au bovaryisme (maladie textuellement transmissible).

7. Le droit de lire n'importe où.

8. Le droit de grapiller.

9. Le droit de lire à haute voix.

10. Le droit de nous taire.

                                                                          Daniel Pennac, Comme un Roman

"The trouble is, however, that men in general do not create in light and warmth alone. They create in darkness and coldness. They create when they are hopeless, in the midst of antagonisms, when they are wrong, when their powers are no longer subject to their control. They create as the ministers of evil. Here in New England at this very moment nothing but good seems to be returning; and in that good, particularly if we ignore the difference between men and the natural world, how easy it is suddenly to believe in the poem as one has never believed in it before, suddenly to require of it a meaning beyond what its words can possibly say, a sound beyond any giving of the ear, a motion beyond our previous knowledge of feeling."                             Wallace Stevens, "Two or Three Ideas"




“Tous mes moments ne sont qu’un éternel passage / De la crainte à l’espoir, de l’espoir à la rage.”  Bérénice



Atalide: Il ne me verra plus.             Zaïre: Madame, le voici.


"By the time of the Twelfth Dynasty (2000-1788) an 'author' was already complaining of the difficulty of saying anything new!" George Sarton, A History of Science


"Be not arrogant because of thy knowledge, and be not puffed up for that thou art a learned man. Take counsel with the ignorant as with the learned, for the limits of art cannot be reached, and no artist is perfect in his excellences. Goodly discourse is more hidden than the precious green-stone, and yet it is found with slave-girls over the millstones."

                                 from the Proverbs of Ptathotep, Vth Dynasty, Old Kingdom, ca. 2500

"Now, as Bartoline Saddletree had a considerable gift of words, which he mistook for eloquence, and conferred more liberally upon the society in which he lived than was at all times gracious and acceptable, there went forth a saying, with which wags used sometimes to interrupt his rhetoric, that, as he had a golden nag at his door, so he had a gray mare in his shop."

                                                       Sir Walter Scott, The Heart of Midlothian

"Fear not the tyrants will rule forever,

            Or the priests of the evil faith;

They stand on the brink of that raging river,

            Whose waves they have tainted with death.

It is fed from the depths of a thousand dells,

Around them it foams and rages and swells;

Like their swords and their sceptres I floating see,

Like wrecks on the surge of eternity."

                                                                   Percy Bysshe Shelley


“She touched his organ, and from that bright epoch, even it, the old companion of his happiest hours, incapable as he had thought of elevation, began a new and deified existence.”

                                                                                              Martin Chuzzlewit, chapter 24


"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."

                                                                                              Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche

"Not in innocence, and not in Asia was mankind born."

                                                                                     Robert Ardrey, African Genesis




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