The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
Several children present me with scraps of paper for autographs: obviously don’t know who I am and don’t care. I sign “Jackie Collins” and they go away quite content.
A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.
I think of an author as somebody who goes into the marketplace and puts down his rug and says, “I will tell you a story,” and then he passes the hat.
Topics: Authors & Writing
It is not always easy to diagnose. The simplest form of stupidity – the mumbling, nose-picking, stolid incomprehension – can be detected by anyone. But the stupidity which disguises itself as thought, and which talks so glibly and eloquently, indeed never stops talking, in every walk of life is not so easy to identify, because it marches under a formidable name, which few dare attack. It is called Popular Opinion…
Comparatively few people know what a million dollars actually is. To the majority it is a gaseous concept, swelling or decreasing as the occasion suggests. In the minds of politicians, perhaps more than anywhere, the notion of a million dollars has this accordion-like ability to expand or contract; if they are disposing of it, the million is a pleasing sum, reflecting warmly upon themselves; if somebody else wants it, it becomes a figure of inordinate size, not to be compassed by the rational mind.
Students today are a pretty solemn lot. One of the really notable achievements of the twentieth century has been to make the young old before their time.
Few people can see genius in someone who has offended them.
Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.
The people of the United States, perhaps more than any other nation in history, love to abase themselves and proclaim their unworthiness, and seem to find refreshment in doing so… That is a dark frivolity, but still frivolity.
The most original thing a writer can do is write like himself. It is also his most difficult task.
The drama may be called that part of theatrical art which lends itself most readily to intellectual discussion: what is left is theater.
You never see what you want to see, forever playing to the gallery.
Too much traffic with a quotation book begets a conviction of ignorance in a sensitive reader. Not only is there a mass of quotable stuff he never quotes, but an even vaster realm of which he has never heard.
If I had my way books would not be written in English, but in an exceedingly difficult secret language that only skilled professional readers and story-tellers could interpret. Then people like you would have to go to public halls and pay good prices to hear the professionals decode and read the books aloud for you. This plan would have the advantage of scaring off all amateur authors, retired politicians, country doctors and I-Married-a-Midget writers who would not have the patience to learn the secret language.
Topics: Books, Reading
The world is burdened with young fogies. Old men with ossified minds are easily dealt with. But men who look young, act young and everlastingly harp on the fact that they are young, but who nevertheless think and act with a degree of caution that would be excessive in their grandfathers, are the curse of the world. Their very conservatism is secondhand, and they don’t know what they are conserving.
Topics: Conservatives, Fear
Wisdom is a variable possession. Every man is wise when pursued by a mad dog, fewer when pursued by a mad woman; only the wisest survive when attacked by a mad notion.
The greatest gift that Oxford gives her sons is, I truly believe, a genial irreverence toward learning, and from that irreverence love may spring.
Topics: Education, Colleges, Universities
Happiness is always a by-product. It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular. But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.
Only a fool expects to be happy all the time.
The wit of a graduate student is like champagne. Canadian champagne.
Pornography is rather like trying to find out about a Beethoven symphony by having somebody tell you about it and perhaps hum a few bars.
The clerisy are those who read for pleasure, but not for idleness; who read for pastime but not to kill time; who love books, but do not live by books.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Margaret Atwood Canadian Author
- Stephen Leacock Canadian Humorist
- Marshall Mcluhan Canadian Thinker
- Graham Greene British Novelist
- James Cameron Canadian Filmmaker
- Pierre Trudeau Canadian Statesman
- Margaret Laurence Canadian Novelist
- Jeanette Winterson English Novelist
- Italo Calvino Italian Novelist, Writer
- George Bernard Shaw Irish Playwright