I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.
Topics: Soul, Authors & Writing
If we Americans are to survive it will have to be because we choose and elect and defend to be first of all Americans; to present to the world one homogeneous and unbroken front, whether of white Americans or black ones or purple or blue or green. If we in America have reached that point in our desperate culture when we must murder children, no matter for what reason or what color, we don’t deserve to survive, and probably won t.
When grown people speak of the innocence of children, they don’t really know what they mean. Pressed, they will go a step further and say, Well, ignorance then. The child is neither. There is no crime which a boy of 11 has not envisaged long ago. His only innocence is, he may not yet be old enough to desire the fruits of it. His ignorance is, he does not know how to commit it.
Do not talk about disgrace from a thing being known, when the disgrace is, that the thing should exist.
One of the saddest things is that the only thing that a man can do for eight hours a day, day after day, is work. You can’t eat eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day nor make love for eight hours—all you can do for eight hours is work. Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy.
A gentleman can live through anything.
You should approach Joyce’s Ulysses as the illiterate Baptist preacher approaches the Old Testament: with faith.
Maybe it was because like not only finds like; it can’t even escape from being found by its like. Even when it’s just like in one thing, because even them two with the same like was different.
The last sound on the worthless earth will be two human beings trying to launch a homemade spaceship and already quarreling about where they are going next.
Topics: Fighting, Quarrels, Fight
Given a choice between grief and nothing, I’d choose grief.
A writer is congenitally unable to tell the truth and that is why we call what he writes fiction.
Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.
Topics: Literature, Reading, Books
When ideas come, I write them; when they don’t come, I don’t.
It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.
Topics: Mankind, Man
Facts and truth really don’t have much to do with each other.
Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. They were coming toward where the flag was and I went along the fence. Luster was hunting in the grass by the flower tree.
Time is a fluid condition which has no existence except in the momentary avatars of individual people.
Topics: Time Management
Fear is the most damnable, damaging thing to human personality in the whole world.
People need trouble—a little frustration to sharpen the spirit on, toughen it. Artists do; I don’t mean you need to live in a rat hole or gutter, but you have to learn fortitude, endurance. Only vegetables are happy.
Topics: Trouble, Difficulty
All of us have failed to reach our dream of perfection, so I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible.
Topics: Fail, Perfection, Mistake, Perfect, Failure, Dream
The artist is of no importance. Only what he creates is important, since there is nothing new to be said. Shakespeare, Balzac, Homer have all written about the same things, and if they had lived one thousand or two thousand years longer, the publishers wouldn’t have needed anyone since.
Topics: Art, Literature, Books
The best job that was ever offered to me was to become a landlord in a brothel. In my opinion it’s the perfect milieu for an artist to work in.
There is something about jumping a horse over a fence, something that makes you feel good. Perhaps it’s the risk, the gamble. In any event it’s a thing I need.
The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. This is the artist’s way of scribbling “Kilroy was here” on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass.
The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is worth any number of old ladies.
Topics: Writers, Writing, Authors & Writing
When my horse is running good, I don’t stop to give him sugar.
The salvation of the world is in man’s suffering.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Saul Bellow Canadian-born American Novelist
- Philip Roth American Novelist, Short-story Writer
- Bernard Malamud American Novelist
- John Steinbeck American Novelist
- Toni Morrison American Novelist
- Katherine Anne Porter American Writer
- Joyce Carol Oates American Novelist
- William Styron American Novelist
- Pearl S. Buck American Novelist
- Nelson Algren American Novelist