Archive for the ‘Favorite Passages’ Category

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  for the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.


~ Vita Sackville-West


“Beauty and the Butterfly” by Vittorio Matteo Corcos, 1933

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Old forms and phrases began to have a sense that frightened her.  She had a new feeling, the feeling of danger; on which a new remedy rose to meet it, the idea of an inner self or, in other words, of concealment.  She puzzled out with imperfect signs, but with a prodigious spirit, that she had been a centre of hatred and a messenger of insult, and that everything was bad because she had been employed to make it so.  Her parted lips locked themselves with the determination to be employed no longer.  She would forget everything, she would repeat nothing, and when, as a tribute to the successful application of her system, she began to be called a little idiot, she tasted a pleasure new and keen.  When therefore, as she grew older, [they] in turn announced before her that she had grown shockingly dull, it was not from any real contraction of her little stream of life.  She spoiled their fun, but she practically added to her own.  She saw more and more; she saw too much.


~ From What Maisie Knew by Henry James, born on this day in 1843


Fritz Zuber-Buhler

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Every issue of the paper presents an opportunity and a duty to say something courageous and true; to rise above the mediocre and conventional; to say something that will command the respect of the intelligent, the educated, the independent part of the community; to rise above fear of partisanship and fear of popular prejudice.  I would rather have one article a day of this sort; and these ten or twenty lines might readily represent a whole day’s hard work in the way of concentrated, intense thinking and revision, polish of style, weighing of words.


~ Joseph Pulitzer, born on this day in 1847


Joseph Pulitzer, 1918

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Writers may be disreputable, incorrigible, early to decay or late to bloom, but they dare to go it alone.

~ John Updike, born on this day in 1932


Félix Vallotton, 1904


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Try getting blindly carried away by your feelings, without reasoning, without a primary cause, driving consciousness away at least for a time; start hating, or fall in love, only so as not to sit with folded arms.  The day after tomorrow, at the very latest, you’ll begin to despise yourself for having knowingly hoodwinked yourself.  The result: a soap bubble, and inertia. […] Better to do nothing!  Better conscious inertia!  And so, long live the underground! 

For what and to what end, in fact, do I want to write? […] There’s something imposing in it, there will be more of a judgment on oneself, it will gain in style.  Besides: maybe I will indeed get relief from the writing. […] Snow is falling today, almost wet, yellow, dull.  And it was falling yesterday, and it was falling the other day as well.  I think it was apropos of the wet snow that I recalled this anecdote that now refuses to be gotten rid of.  And so, let this be a story apropos of the wet snow.


~ From Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky


“Garden under Snow” by Paul Gauguin, 1879

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On Art

Art, especially the stage, is an area where it is impossible to walk without stumbling.  There are in store for you many unsuccessful days and whole unsuccessful seasons: there will be great misunderstandings and deep disappointments…you must be prepared for all this, expect it and nevertheless, stubbornly, fanatically follow your own way.


~ Anton Chekhov, born on this day in 1860


Leonid Pasternak


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I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night?  Let me think.  Was I the same when I got up this morning?  I almost think I can remember feeling a little different.  But if I’m not the same, the next question is “Who in the world am I?”  Ah, that’s the great puzzle!

~ Lewis Carroll, born on this day in 1832


“Alice in Wonderland” by John Tenniel, 1865

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