Literature Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 1007 quotes )
Literature cannot develop between the categories "permitted?"not permitted?"this you can and that you can't." Literature that is not the air of its contemporary society, that dares not warn in time against threatening moral and social dangers, such literature does not deserve the name of literature; it is only a facade. Such literature loses the confidence of its own people, and its published works are used as waste paper instead of being read.-Letter to the Fourth National Congress of Soviet Writers
Literature, real literature, must not be gulped down like some potion which may be good for the heart or good for the brain—the brain, that stomach of the soul. Literature must be taken and broken to bits, pulled apart, squashed—then its lovely reek will be smelt in the hollow of the palm, it will be munched and rolled upon the tongue with relish; then, and only then, its rare flavor will be appreciated at its true worth and the broken and crushed parts will again come together in your mind and disclose the beauty of a unity to which you have contributed something of your own blood.
Literature deals with morality but does not necessarily, does not, qua literature, help you to be more moral, either by precept or example. It makes you more aware. Which is to say that it makes you more human by making life more, not less, difficult. When you become more aware, the area of moral choice is widened. You can be a better man; you can also be a worse. Literature will not determine which. It is the equivalent of neither grace nor good works.
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...
Literature presents you with alternate mappings of the human experience. You see that the experiences of other people and other cultures are as rich, coherent, and troubled as your own experiences. They are as beset with suffering as yours. Literature is a kind of legitimate voyeurism through the keyhole of language where you really come to know other people's lives--their anguish, their loves, their passions. Often you discover that once you dive into those lives and get below the surface, the veneer, there is a real closeness.
Literature was not promulgated by a pale and emasculated critical priesthood singing their litanies in empty churches - nor is it a game for the cloistered elect, the tinhorn mendicants of low calorie despair. Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, their responsibilities have been decreed by our species.--speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1962
Literature is not exhaustible, for the sufficient and simple reason that a single book is not. A book is not an isolated entity: it is a narration, an axis of innumerable narrations. One literature differs from another, either before or after it, not so much because of the text as for the manner in which it is read.
Literature duplicates the experience of living in a way that nothing else can, drawing you so fully into another life that you temporarily forget you have one of your own. That is why you read it, and might even sit up in bed till early dawn, throwing your whole tomorrow out of whack, simply to find out what happens to some people who, you know perfectly well, are made up.
Literature, after all, from Homer onwards, is littered with the recounting of deaths and with the fascination for death, and in this it only expresses what we all repeatedly dwell on but do not necessarily or readily voice. So far as death goes, I don't claim any oddity. There is only one sea: I'm in the same boat as everyone else. And that seems, more generally, to be the position that every novelist, unless they are possessed of a peculiar arrogance, should take: I am mortal too, I am human too. I too, like you, share life's joys, pains, confusions. We're all in the same boat.