Very early, I knew that the only object in life was to grow.
It is astonishing what force, purity, and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods.
Next to invention is the power of interpreting invention; next to beauty the power of appreciating beauty.
I now know all the people worth knowing in America, and I find no intellect comparable to my own.
There are two modes of criticism. One which crushes to earth without mercy all the humble buds of Phantasy, all the plants that, though green and fruitful, are also a prey to insects or have suffered by drought. It weeds well the garden, and cannot believe the weed in its native soil may be a pretty, graceful plant. There is another mode which enters into the natural history of every thing that breathes and lives, which believes no impulse to be entirely in vain, which scrutinizes circumstances, motive and object before it condemns, and believes there is a beauty in natural form, if its law and purpose be understood.
Topics: Criticism, Critics
Would that the simple maxim, that honesty is the best policy, might be laid to heart; that a sense of the true aim of life might elevate the tone of politics and trade till public and private honor become identical.
A home is no home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as for the body. For human beings are not so constituted that they can live without expansion. If they do not get it in one way, they must in another, or perish.
Truth is the nursing mother of genius? No man true can be absolutely true to himself, eschewing cant, compromise, servile imitation, and complaisance without becoming original.
Nature provides exceptions to every rule.
It is not because the touch of genius has roused genius to production, but because the admiration of genius has made talent ambitious, that the harvest is still so abundant.
Reverence the highest; have patience with the lowest; let this day’s performance of the meanest duty be thy religion.
One hour of love will teach a woman more of her true relations than all your philosophizing.
Man can never come up to his ideal standard.—It is the nature of the immortal spirit to raise that standard higher and higher as it goes from strength to strength, still upward and onward.—The wisest and greatest men are ever the most modest.
Beware of over-great pleasure in being popular or even beloved.
Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But in fact they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman.
Topics: Men & Women
Man tells his aspiration in his God; but in his demon he shows his depth of experience.
Melancholy attends the best joys of an ideal life.
Two persons love in one another the future good which they aid one another to unfold.
I am suffocated and lost when I have not the bright feeling of progression.
Drudgery is as necessary to call out the treasures of the mind as harrowing and planting those of the earth.
I have urged on woman independence of man, not that I do not think the sexes mutually needed by one another, but because in woman this fact has led to an excessive devotion, which has cooled love, degraded marriage and prevented it her sex from being what it should be to itself or the other. I wish woman to live, first for God’s sake. Then she will not take what is not fit for her from a sense of weakness and poverty. Then if she finds what she needs in man embodied, she will know how to love and be worthy of being loved.
It does not follow because many books are written by persons born in America that there exists an American literature. Books which imitate or represent the thoughts and life of Europe do not constitute an American literature. Before such can exist, an original idea must animate this nation and fresh currents of life must call into life fresh thoughts along the shore.
Topics: Books, Reading
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Henry David Thoreau American Philosopher
- Joan Didion American Essayist, Novelist, Memoirist
- Ralph Waldo Emerson American Philosopher
- James Russell Lowell American Poet, Critic
- Sheryl Sandberg American Executive, Author
- Helen Gurley Brown American Publisher
- Amos Bronson Alcott American Teacher
- Whitney Young American Civil Rights Leader
- James Freeman Clarke American Unitarian Clergyman
- Kurt Vonnegut American Novelist