Book Quotations ♠©winnie caw 2002
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The Printing press is either the greatest blessing or the greatest curse of modern times, sometimes one forgets which it is.

~ J M Barrie

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"Classic". A book which people praise and don't read.

~ Mark Twain, 'Following the Equator', 1897

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There is a great deal of difference between the eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read.

~ G K Chesterton

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I shall lose no time in reading your book.

~ Benjamin Disraeli

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He knew everything about literature except how to enjoy it.

~ Joseph Heller, 'Catch-22', 1961

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I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true.

~ Dorothy Parker

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Mr J Ruskin is about to begin a work of great importance and, therefore, begs that in reference to calls and correspondence you will consider him dead for the next two months.

~ John Ruskin (circular, attrib.)

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Once you've put one of his books down, you simply can't pick it up again.

~ Mark Twain (of Henry James)

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Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children; life is the other way round.

~ David Lodge

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I've read some of your modern free verse and wonder who set it free.

~ John Barrymore

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Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split.

~ Raymond Chandler (to Edward Weeks)

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You don't expect me to know what to say about a play when I don't know who the author is, do you?

~ George Bernard Shaw

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When I want to read a novel, I write one.

~ Benjamin Disraeli

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We were put to Dickens as children but it never quite took. That unremitting humanity soon had me cheesed off.

~ Alan Bennett, 'The Old Country', 1978

*****

The Art of Biography

Is different from Geography

Geography is about maps,

But Biography is about Chaps.

 

~ Edmund Clerihew Bentley, 'Biography for Beginners', 1905

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Critics are to authors what dogs are to lamp-posts.

~ Jeffrey Robinson

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Biography, like big game hunting, is one of the recognised forms of sport, and it is as unfair as only sport can be.

~ Philip Guedella, 'Supers and Supermen', 1920

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Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folk have lent me.

~ Anatole France

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Yeats is becoming so aristocratic, he's evicting imaginary tenants.

~ Oliver St John Gogarty

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Here is that marriage of style and content we look for in all great writing. A shatteringly vulgar and worthless life captured in shatteringly vulgar and worthless prose.

~ Stephen Fry, 'Paperweight', 1992

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What other culture could have produced someone like Hemingway and not seen the joke?

~ Gore Vidal

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If, with the literate, I am

Impelled to try an epigram,

I never seek to take the credit;

We all assume that Oscar said it.

 

~ Dorothy Parker, 'A Pig's Eye View of Literature', 1937

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An incinerator is a writer's best friend.

~ Thornton Wilder

*****

[writing to a magazine that had published his obituary]

I've just read that I am dead. Don't forget to delete me from your list of subscribers.

~ Rudyard Kipling

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Someone told me that each equation I included in the book would halve the sales.

~ Stephen Hawking, 'A Brief History of Time', 1988

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I am the most spontaneous speaker in the world because every word, every gesture, and every retort has been carefully rehearsed.

~ George Bernard Shaw

*****

[to H G Wells]

It is all very well to be able to write books, but can you waggle your ears?

~ J M Barrie

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The covers of this book are too far apart.

~ Ambrose Bierce

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I read the book of Job last night. I don't think God comes well out of it.

~ Virginia Woolf (attrib.)

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[from a book review]

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

~ Dorothy Parker

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The profession of book-writing makes horse-racing seem like a stable business.

~ John Steinbeck

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He directed rehearsals with all the airy deftness of a rheumatic deacon producing Macbeth for a church social.

~ NoŽl Coward( of J R Crawford, attrib.)

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From the moment I picked your book up until the moment I put it down I could not stop laughing. Someday I hope to read it.

~ Groucho Marx (to Leo Rosten)

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An author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.

~ Benjamin Disraeli

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I have been commissioned to write an autobiography and I would be grateful to any of your readers who could tell me what I was doing between 1960 and 1974.

~ Jeffrey Bernard

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As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.

~ Mark Twain, 'Pudd'nhead Wilson', 1894

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I never read the life of any important person without discovering that he knew more and could do more than I could ever hope to know or to do in half a dozen lifetimes.

~ J B Priestley, 'Apes and Angels', 1928

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It was like watching someone organise her own immortality. Every phrase and gesture was studied. Now and again, when she said something a little out of the ordinary, she wrote it down herself in a notebook.

~ Harold Laski (of Virginia Woolf)

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Dr Donne's verses are like the peace of God; they pass all understanding.

~ James I

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One of those big, fat paperbacks, intended to while away a monsoon or two, which, if thrown with a good overarm action, will bring a water buffalo to its knees.

~ Nancy Banks-Smith (of 'The Far Pavilions')

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They told me how Mr Gladstone read Homer for fun, which I thought served him right.

~ Winston Churchill, 'My Early Life', 1930

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Autobiography is now as common as adultery and hardly less reprehensible.

~ John Griff

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The art of newspaper paragraphing is to stroke a platitude until it purrs like an epigram.

~ Don Marquis

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The girl was beheaded, chopped into pieces and placed in a trunk but was not interfered with.

~ Newspaper Report

*****

A would-be satirist, a hired buffoon,

A monthly scribbler of some low lampoon,

Condemned to drudge, the meanest of the mean,

And furbish falsehoods for a magazine.

 

~ Lord Byron

*****

Her journalism, like a diamond, will sparkle more if it is cut.

~ Raymond Mortimer (of Susan Sontag)

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The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.

~ Oscar Wilde, 'The Importance of Being Earnest', 1895

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Show me a congenital eavesdropper with the instincts of a Peeping Tom and I will show you the makings of a dramatist.

~ Kenneth Tynan, 'Passing on the Stairs', 1957

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The humour of Dostoievsky is the humour of a barloafer who ties a kettle to a dog's tail.

~ W Somerset Maugham, 'A Writer's Notebook', 1949

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The Compleat Angler is acknowledged to be one of the world's books. Only the trouble is that the world doesn't read its books, it borrows a detective story instead.

~ Stephen Leacock, 'The Boy I Left Behind Me', 1947

*****

Nothing induces me to read a novel except when I have to make money by writing about it. I detest them.

~ Virginia Woolf

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If you steal from one author, it's plagiarism; if you steal from many, it's research.

~ Wilson Mizner

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Accuracy to a newspaper is what virtue is to a lady; but a newspaper can always print a retraction.

~ Adlai Stevenson, 'The Wit and Wisdom of Adlai Stevenson', 1965

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Let alone re-write, he doesn't even re-read.

~ Clive James, 'The Dreaming Swimmer', 1992

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All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.

~ Oscar Wilde

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For years a secret shame destroyed my peace -

I'd not read Eliot, Auden or MacNeice

But then I had a thought that brought me hope -

Neither had Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope.

 

~ Justin Richardson, 'Take Heart, Illiterates', 1966

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I am the kind of writer that people think other people are reading.

~ V S Naipaul

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I never read the papers...I rely on Sven to tell me if there's a war broken out. No, I think there's far too much going on already without reading about it as well.

~ Alan Ayckbourn, 'Joking Apart', 1979

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No self-respecting fish would be wrapped in a Murdoch newspaper.

~ Mike Royko

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My favorite poem is 'Thirty days hath September' because it actually tells you something.

~ Groucho Marx (attrib.)

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Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.

~ T S Eliot, 'The Sacred Wood', 1920

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Being published by the Oxford University Press is rather like being married to a duchess; the honour is almost greater than the pleasure.

~ G M Young

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More than one newspaper has been ruined by the brilliant writer in the editor's chair.

~ Lord Camrose

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A publisher who writes is like a cow in a milk bar.

~ Arthur Koestler

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He once telephoned a semicolon from Moscow.

~ James Bone (on the accuracy of a journalist)

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Freedom of the press in Britain means freedom to print such of the proprietor's prejudices as the advertisers don't object to.

~ Hannen Swaffer

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All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality - the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape.

~ A C Benson

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Some books make me want to go adventuring, others feel that they have saved me the trouble.

~ Ashleigh Brilliant

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Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends.

~ S Weir Mitchell

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In a very real sense, people who read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.

~ S I Hayakawa

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Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

~ Sir Richard Stede (1672 - 1729)

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Book love ... is your pass to the greatest, the purest and the most perfect pleasure that God has prepared for his creatures.

~ Anthony Trollope (1815 - 1882)

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The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self-activity.

~ Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881)

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Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind.

~ Robert Chambers

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A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.

~ Gilbert Chesterton

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Books are the curse of the human race.

~ Benjamin Disraeli

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Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.

~ T S Eliot

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When you re-read a classic, you do not see more in the book that you did before; you see more in you than was there before.

~ Cliff Fadiman

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A book that is shut is but a block.

~ Thomas Fuller

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This will never be a civilized country until we expend more money for books than we do for chewing gum.

~ Elbert Hubbard

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A bad book is as much labour to write as a good one, it comes as sincerely from the author's soul.

~ Aldous Huxley

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I am a part of everything that I have read.

~ John Kieran

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In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.

~ Andre Maurois

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An author is a fool who, not content with boring those he lives with, insists on boring future generations.

~ Charles de Montesquieu

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Books, like friends, should be few and well chosen.

~ Samuel Paterson

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What is the most precious, the most exciting smell awaiting you in the house when you return to it after a dozen years or so? The smell of roses, you think? No, mouldering books.

~ Andre Sinyavsky

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A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted. You should live several lives while reading it.

~ William Styron

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There is no such thing as a moral book or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.

~ Oscar Wilde

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Books had an instant replay long before televised sports.

~ Bert Williams

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The man who does not read books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.

~ Mark Twain

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There is no robber worse than a bad book.

~ Unknown

*****


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