Literary Wit and Wisdom: Classic Quotes on Life, Love and Literature

Classic Quotes on Life, Love and Literature

By Artist is Robert Lewis Reid (1862–1929). Photographed 2007 by Carol Highsmith (1946–), who explicitly placed the photograph in the public domain. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Chinua Achebe (1930-2013, Nigeria):

“We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own. The Igbo, always practical, put it concretely in their proverb Onye ji onye n'ani ji onwe ya: "He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down,” The Education of a British-Protected Child.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986, Argentina):

“You can't measure time by days, the way you measure money by dollars and cents, because dollars are all the same while every day is different and maybe every hour as well.”

Willa Cather (1873-1947, United States):

“In great misfortunes, people want to be alone. They have a right to be. And the misfortunes that occur within one are the greatest. Surely the saddest thing in the world is falling out of love--if once one has ever fallen in,” The Professor’s House.

Kate Chopin (1850-1904, United States):

“Some people are born with a vital and responsive energy. It not only enables them to keep abreast of the times; it qualifies them to furnish in their own personality a good bit of the motive power to the mad pace. They are fortunate beings. They do not need to apprehend the significance of things. They do not grow weary nor miss step, nor do they fall out of rank and sink by the wayside to be left contemplating the moving procession," The Awakening.  

Victor Hugo (1802-1885, France)

“What Is Love? I have met in the streets a very poor young man who was in love. His hat was old, his coat worn, the water passed through his shoes and the stars through his soul."

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784, England):

“A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.”

George Orwell (1903-1950, England)

“A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it," 1984.

Natsume Sōseki (1867-1916, Japan)

“Approach everything rationally, and you become harsh. Pole along in the stream of emotions, and you will be swept away by the current. Give free rein to your desires, and you become uncomfortably confined. It is not a very agreeable place to live, this world of ours," The Three-Cornered World.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968, United States)

“It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone," The Winter of Our Discontent.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745, Ireland)

“You should never be ashamed to admit you have been wrong. It only proves you are wiser today than yesterday."

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910, Russia)

“If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you," Essays, Letters and Miscellanies.

Edith Wharton (1862-1937, United States)

“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.”

Émile Zola (1840-1902, France)

“If people can just love each other a little bit, they can be so happy,” Germinal.

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Burgess, Adam. "Literary Wit and Wisdom: Classic Quotes on Life, Love and Literature." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Burgess, Adam. (2020, August 27). Literary Wit and Wisdom: Classic Quotes on Life, Love and Literature. Retrieved from Burgess, Adam. "Literary Wit and Wisdom: Classic Quotes on Life, Love and Literature." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 23, 2021).