To give an accurate description of what has never occurred is not merely the proper occupation of the historian, but the inalienable privilege of any man of parts and culture.
Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but moulds it to its purpose. The nineteenth century, as we know it, is largely an invention of Balzac.
From the point of view of literature Mr. Kipling is a genius who drops his aspirates. From the point of view of life, he is a reporter who knows vulgarity better than any one has ever known it.
A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.
Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.
The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it.
When I read great literature, great drama, speeches, or sermons, I feel that the human mind has not achieved anything greater than the ability to share feelings and thoughts through language.
Literature is the human activity that takes the fullest and most precise account of variousness, possibility, complexity, and difficulty.
Violence commands both literature and life, and violence is always crude and distorted.
Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children. Life is the other way round.
Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.
The Bible is literature, not dogma.
We know too much, and are convinced of too little. Our literature is a substitute for religion, and so is our religion.
Life comes before literature, as the material always comes before the work. The hills are full of marble before the world blooms with statues.
In science, read, by preference, the newest works; in literature, the oldest. The classic literature is always modern.
Poetry should help, not only to refine the language of the time, but to prevent it from changing too rapidly.
The decline of literature indicates the decline of a nation.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.
I know many books which have bored their readers, but I know of none which has done real evil.
I write-down to speak-up.
The force of the advertising word and image dwarfs the power of other literature in the 20th century.
Just don't take any class where you have to read BEOWULF.
It is one of the paradoxes of American literature that our writers are forever looking back with love and nostalgia at lives they couldn't wait to leave.
The one and only substitute for experience which we have not ourselves had is art, literature
The web, then, or the pattern, a web at once sensuous and logical, an elegant and pregnant texture: that is style, that is the foundation of the art of literature.