200+ Best Literature Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Profoundly inspirational literature quotes will make you look at life differently and help you live a meaningful life.

Famous Literature Quotes

I didn’t make any money from my writing until much later. I published about 80 stories for nothing. I spent on literature. — Naguib Mahfouz

Gather experience… Look at what you should not look at. A feeling of anxiety is the sure and certain evidence that you should do this. — Clive Barker

Journalism is popular, but it is popular mainly as fiction. Life is one world, and life seen in the newspapers is another. — Gilbert K. Chesterton

I’m not so sure that horror should be dismissed as something less than literature. — Whitley Strieber

Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope. — Edith Wharton

There have been a number of us working very, very hard to bring myth and fairy tales into public consciousness, through fantasy literature and other media. I hope we’re succeeding in some small way. — Terri Windling

Censure is the tax a man pays to the public for being eminent. — Jonathan Swift

Literature has been the salvation of the damned, literature has inspired and guided lovers, routed despair and can perhaps in this case save the world. — John Cheever

Fortune truly helps those who are of good judgment. — Euripides

Albert Einstein when asked what he considered to be the most powerful force in the universe answered: Compound interest! What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want. — Mignon McLaughlin

I am of the opinion that I am not a political writer, and, moreover, that as far as true literature is concerned, there actually are no political writers. I think that my writing is no more political than ancient Greek theatre. I would have become the writer I am in any political regime. — Ismail Kadare

That friendship will not continue to the end which is begun for an end. — Francis Quarles

If literature isn’t everything, it’s not worth a single hour of someone’s trouble. — Jean-Paul Sartre

We are more closely connected to the invisible than to the visible. — Novalis

Poetry consists in a rhyming dictionary and things seen. — Gertrude Stein

And I found both literature and the church very dramatic presences in the world of the 1950s. — Thomas Keneally

Literature isn’t a moral beauty contest. Its power arises from the authority and audacity with which the impersonation is pulled off; the belief it inspires is what counts. — Philip Roth

Any garment which is cut to fit you is much more becoming, even if it is not so splendid as a garment which has been cut to fit somebody not of your stature. — Edna Ferber

It was delightful but, of course, it was pretty insulting to my professional reputation. — Anthony Holden

The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary. — Gabriel Garcia Marquez

There is nothing new in art except talent. — Anton Chekhov

If women be educated for dependence; that is, to act according to the will of another fallible being, and submit, right or wrong, to power, where are we to stop? — Mary Wollstonecraft

At first, I only laughed at myself. Then I noticed that life itself is amusing. I’ve been in a generally good mood ever since. — Marilyn vos Savant

We all become great explorers during our first few days in a new city, or a new love affair. — Mignon McLaughlin

The unions claim the deck is stacked against them when it comes to labor laws, but the truth is many private and public sector workers are forced to pay union dues as a condition of their employment, yet they have little say in how the unions spend their money. — Linda Chavez

To become properly acquainted with a truth, we must first have disbelieved it, and disputed against it. — Novalis

I believe that the power of literature is stronger than the power of tyranny. — Ma Jian

Fantasy is toxic: the private cruelty and the world war both have their start in the heated brain. — Elizabeth Bowen

The worst possible turn can not be programmed. It is caused by coincidence. — Friedrich Durrenmatt

When we first broke into that forbidden box in the other dimension, we knew we had discovered something as surprising and powerful as the New World when Columbus came stumbling onto it. — Ken Kesey

It’s funny, in literature no one ever goes to the lavatory. — Tom Baker

No one can feel as helpless as the owner of a sick goldfish. — Kin Hubbard

Literature has its own life, even in a dictatorship like the Soviet Union. — Heinrich Boll

Our artillery has really been sensational. For once we have enough of something and at the right time. Officers tell me they actually have more guns than they know what to do with. — Ernie Pyle

Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture. — Allen Ginsberg

Then again, they’re not scripted and I feel it’s virtually impossible to be anything but yourself when you’re in front of the cameras and cooking so there is a measure of truth in what you see. — Nigella Lawson

I don’t even like old cars. I’d rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God’s sake. — J. D. Salinger

Extol Jewish virtue, modern Zionism and the Israeli Defense Forces. — Geraldo Rivera

Dickens is one of those authors who are well worth stealing. — George Orwell

What we value about music and literature are the moments that they create in our minds when we encounter them. — Stephan Jenkins

I preach there are all kinds of truth, your truth and somebody else’s. But behind all of them there is only one truth and that is that there’s no truth. — Flannery O’Connor

In the order of literature, as in others, there is no act that is not the coronation of an infinite series of causes and the source of an infinite series of effects. — Jorge Luis Borges

I worked half my life to be an overnight success, and still it took me by surprise. — Jessica Savitch

A script is not a piece of literature it’s a process. — Abel Ferrara

Personal experience is the basis of all real literature. — George Henry Lewes

What I do deny is that you can build any enduring society without some such mystical ethos. — Herbert Read

My imagination is a monastery and I am its monk. — John Keats

I remember a moment when the Prince went back to his old school, Grammar School in Melbourne, and slightly to his horror his old music teacher produced a cello. — Anthony Holden

They are focused on whether they can do something. They never think whether they should do something. — Michael Crichton

We are no longer puppets being manipulated by outside powerful forces: we become the powerful force ourselves. — Leo Buscaglia

If I didn’t see its place in the Saga when I planned it, I probably wouldn’t write it at all. — Leslie Charteris

In literature as in ethics, there is danger, as well as glory, in being subtle. Aristocracy isolates us. — Charles Baudelaire

I’m never going to be in danger of getting the Nobel Prize for literature. — David Eddings

Women are naturally secretive, and they like to do their own secreting. — Arthur Conan Doyle

Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it. Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin. — Hermann Hesse

But when will our leaders learn – war is not the answer. — Helen Thomas

Once we get them in the studio, you interview a person the same way you would interview another. You ask them a question. You let them answer. You try to listen closely and then ask a follow-up. — Bob Schieffer

The front-line soldier wants it to be got over by the physical process of his destroying enough Germans to end it. He is truly at war. The rest of us, no matter how hard we work, are not. — Ernie Pyle

One would like to be grand and heroic, if one could; but if not, why try at all? One wants to be very something, very great, very heroic; or if not that, then at least very stylish and very fashionable. It is this everlasting mediocrity that bores me. — Harriet Beecher Stowe

One of the great themes in American literature is the individual’s confrontation with the vast open spaces of the continent. — Justin Cronin

If you are looking down while you are walking it is better to walk up hill the ground is nearer. — Gertrude Stein

I have the fault of being a little more sincere than is proper. — Moliere

I don’t exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it. — J. D. Salinger

I wrote one terrible manuscript after another for a decade and I guess they gradually got a little less terrible. But there were many, many unpublished short stories, abandoned screenplays and novels… a Library of Congress worth of awful literature. — Seth Grahame-Smith

Living is a sickness to which sleep provides relief every sixteen hours. It’s a palliative. The remedy is death. — Nicolas Chamfort

Hateful to me as are the gates of hell, Is he who, hiding one thing in his heart, Utters another. — Homer

But surely for everything you have to love you have to pay some price. — Agatha Christie

A lot of performing instincts are involved in the business of direction, but so is analysis and having a sense of literature. — Trevor Nunn

And literature frequently rises to heights that make it international. — Irving Langmuir

Necessity of action takes away the fear of the act, and makes bold resolution the favorite of fortune. — Francis Quarles

Stupidity is something unshakable; nothing attacks it without breaking itself against it; it is of the nature of granite, hard and resistant. — Gustave Flaubert

When our spelling is perfect, it’s invisible. But when it’s flawed, it prompts strong negative associations. — Marilyn vos Savant

We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit because what was native has been stolen from us, the love of Black women for each other. — Audre Lorde

What was funny if you were there is that we were all immensely sophisticated people who knew exactly what she was going to say and we’re chatting away, nice to see you. — Anthony Holden

Bill Gates is a very rich man today… and do you want to know why? The answer is one word: versions. — Dave Barry

If American politics are too dirty for women to take part in, there’s something wrong with American politics. — Edna Ferber

The conversational overachiever is someone whose grasp exceeds his reach. This is possible but not attractive. — Fran Lebowitz

To apologize is to lay the foundation for a future offense. — Ambrose Bierce

No psychologist should pretend to understand what he does not understand… Only fools and charlatans know everything and understand nothing. — Anton Chekhov

As a result, the highly civilized man can endure incomparably more than the savage, whether of moral or physical strain. Being better able to control himself under all circumstances, he has a great advantage over the savage. — Lafcadio Hearn

This race is hotter than a Times Square Rolex. — Dan Rather

Horror fans are a particular breed. They analyze films with such detail and expertise that I am reminded of the Canadian literary critic Northrup Frye, who approached literature with similar archetypal analysis. — Roger Ebert

Films for TV have to be much closer to the book, mainly because the objective with a TV movie that translates literature is to get the audience, after seeing this version, to pick up the book and read it themselves. My attitude is that TV can never really be any form of art, because it serves audience expectations. — Michael Haneke

The literature of menopause is the saddest, the most awful, and the most medical of all genres. You’re sleepless, you’re anxious, you’re fat, you’re depressed – and the advice is always the same: take more walks, eat some kale, and drink lots of water. It didn’t help. — Sandra Tsing Loh

Irony is the form of paradox. Paradox is what is good and great at the same time. — Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel

You look at science fiction and look how often it talks about being alien, being alienated about the other. Look at the number of blue people – ‘Avatar,’ I’m looking at you. And it is now easier to find people of color in science-fiction literature and media, but the issues of representation are still really, really troubling. — Nalo Hopkinson

Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe, old age flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death. — Edith Wharton

Observing humans and observing oneself yields a clear-minded starting point for literature. — Gao Xingjian

The world is bad but not without hope. It is only hopeless when you look at it from an ideal viewpoint. — Friedrich Durrenmatt

It appears to me that almost any man may like the spider spin from his own inwards his own airy citadel. — John Keats

Going home must be like going to render an account. — Joseph Conrad

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different. — Kurt Vonnegut

May not the complaint, that common people are above their station, often take its rise in the fact of uncommon people being below theirs? — Charles Dickens

I love the early process of asking questions about a story and deciding which questions matter most. — Diane Sawyer

The Cardinal is at his wit’s end – it is true that he had not far to go. — Lord Byron

The writer can choose what he writes about but he cannot choose what he is able to make live. — Flannery O’Connor

Sometimes I can’t figure designers out. It’s as if they flunked human anatomy. — Erma Bombeck

Resignation, not mystic, not detached, but resignation open-eyed, conscious, and informed by love, is the only one of our feelings for which it is impossible to become a sham. — Joseph Conrad

Do not count your chickens before they are hatched. — Aesop

Holden Caulfield is the best character in literature, period. — Josh Hutcherson

I attempt to write a good novel. Whether it is literature or not is something that will be decided by the ages, not by me and not by a pack of critics around the globe. — Elizabeth George

I’m writing a new love story, set in eastern North Carolina. Surprise, surprise, huh? — Nicholas Sparks

Intimate relationships are a gold mine for literature to explore, to understand, to describe. — A. B. Yehoshua

It is true that short forms of poetry have been cultivated in the Far East more than in modern Europe; but in all European literature short forms of poetry are to be found – indeed quite as short as anything in Japanese. — Lafcadio Hearn

There are some women whose pregnancy would make some sly bachelor smile. — Honore de Balzac

Hobbies are apt to run away with us, you know; it doesn’t do to be run away with. We must keep the reins. — George Eliot

Never mind, dear, we’re all made the same, though some more than others. — Noel Coward

Few of the great works of ancient Greek literature are easy reading. — Gilbert Murray

In the streets through which we passed, I must own the houses in general struck me as if they were dark and gloomy, and yet at the same time they also struck me as prodigiously great and majestic. — Karl Philipp Moritz

For a Jewish Puritan of the middle class, the novel is serious, the novel is work, the novel is conscientious application why, the novel is practically the retail business all over again. — Howard Nemerov

American literature has never been content to be just one among the many literatures of the Western World. It has always aspired to be the literature not only of a new continent but of a New World. — Christopher Dawson

Think before you speak is criticism’s motto; speak before you think, creation’s. — E. M. Forster

Many journalists seem to believe that we have become little different from our enemies. — Linda Chavez

An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever afterwards. — F. Scott Fitzgerald

Allen Ginsberg was a world authority on the writing of William Blake, and had an incredible knowledge of classic literature and world politics. — David Amram

One of the surprising things in this world is the respect a worthless man has for himself. — E. W. Howe

He knew everything about literature except how to enjoy it. — Joseph Heller

Nature has no principles. She makes no distinction between good and evil. — Anatole France

An Englishman will fairly drink as much As will maintain two families of Dutch. — Daniel Defoe

I think that what people want from cable news channels is the sense that if there’s hard news, it’s going to come up immediately. — Brit Hume

Cooking is actually quite aggressive and controlling and sometimes, yes, there is an element of force-feeding going on. — Nigella Lawson

More than we sleep, play, or make love, we work. Yet despite – or perhaps because of – this dominant daily grind, much of our literature is biased toward other pursuits. — Paul Di Filippo

I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries. — Stephen King

First-person narrators is the way I know how to write a book with the greatest power and chance of artistic success. — Anne Rice

My landlady, who is only a tailor’s widow, reads her Milton; and tells me, that her late husband first fell in love with her on this very account: because she read Milton with such proper emphasis. — Karl Philipp Moritz

A taste for the best reading is not cultivated in Spanish girls, even where the treasures of that great Castilian literature are accessible to them. — Katharine Lee Bates

All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what’s cool. — Steven Brust

How do you know you’re going to do something, untill you do it? — J. D. Salinger

There are a lot of people who are doing wonderful things, quietly, with no motive of greed, or hostility toward other people, or delusions of superiority. — Charles Kuralt

It is unhappily true that much insincere Literature and Art, executed solely with a view to effect, does succeed by deceiving the public. — George Henry Lewes

No man can produce great things who is not thoroughly sincere in dealing with himself. — James Russell Lowell

The excellency of every art is its intensity, capable of making all disagreeable evaporate. — John Keats

I found that dance, music, and literature is how I made sense of the world… it pushed me to think of things bigger than lifes daily routines… to think beyond what is immediate or convenient. — Mikhail Baryshnikov

A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself. — E. M. Forster

Happiness is a hard master, particularly other people’s happiness. — Aldous Huxley

I have always been fascinated by the supernatural elements in stories, whether fairy tales, myths, film or literature. — Trudi Canavan

One doesn’t recognize the really important moments in one’s life until it’s too late. — Agatha Christie

I don’t know if many people know this about me, but I have multiple sclerosis. So I don’t have time for a lot of shades of gray. I don’t have time for BS. — Neil Cavuto

The writers who reject tendentiousness and purpose in their work are the very ones who display it in every word they write. I could draw countless examples from the history of literature to show that the more a writer clamours for spiritual freedom, the more tendentious his work is liable to be. — Bjornstjerne Bjornson

Before I left the castle I so fixed its entrances that never more can the Count enter there Undead. — Bram Stoker

My parents were founders of the Cuban Communist Party, and I grew up extremely poor. — Guillermo Cabrera Infante

In the history of literature there are many great enduring works which were not published in the lifetimes of the authors. If the authors had not achieved self-affirmation while writing, how could they have continued to write? — Gao Xingjian

Every culture has contributed to maths just as it has contributed to literature. It’s a universal language; numbers belong to everyone. — Daniel Tammet

There’s naught, no doubt, so much the spirit calms as rum and true religion. — Lord Byron

I spent four years doing a doctorate in postmodern American literature. I can recognize it when I see it. — Kate Atkinson

What fascinated me mostly about Mickey Cohen was that he, in his later years, hired someone to help him to comprehend literature, to help him to read better, to understand words better. — Harvey Keitel

Secret families are really the bedrock issue of Western literature. — Tayari Jones

Nothing written for pay is worth printing. Only what has been written against the market. — Ezra Pound

Now when I look back to the Guildford of that time, it seems far more exotic to me than Nagasaki. — Kazuo Ishiguro

Even the most fickle are faithful to a few bad habits. — Mason Cooley

We must wash literature off ourselves. We want to be men above all, to be human. — Antonin Artaud

There’s no workman, whatsoever he be, That may both work well and hastily. — Geoffrey Chaucer

Our greatest foes, and whom we must chiefly combat, are within. — Miguel de Cervantes

I feel like an outsider, and I always will feel like one. I’ve always felt that I wasn’t a member of any particular group. — Anne Rice

I’ve often been accused of making anthropology into literature, but anthropology is also field research. Writing is central to it. — Clifford Geertz

The writer’s greed is appalling. He wants, or seems to want, everything and practically everybody, in another sense, and at the same time, he needs no one at all. — James A. Baldwin

Lawyers didn’t seriously get involved in the Watergate stories until quite late, when we realized we were on to something. — Bob Woodward

What characterizes a member of a minority group is that he is forced to see himself as both exceptional and insignificant, marvelous and awful, good and evil. — Norman Mailer

Every beloved object is the center point of a paradise. — Novalis

Maud Gonne was – excuse me, Maud Gonne was central to the Gaelic literature revival. She wrote plays, and she sang. — Derrick Jensen

In thus pointing out certain respects in which philosophy resembles literature more than science, I do not mean, of course, to imply that it would be well for philosophy if it ceased to aim at scientific rigor. — Morris Raphael Cohen

For the happiest life, days should be rigorously planned, nights left open to chance. — Mignon McLaughlin

I believe that truth has only one face: that of a violent contradiction. — Georges Bataille

Be able to defend your arguments in a rational way. Otherwise, all you have is an opinion. — Marilyn vos Savant

No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. — Edward R. Murrow

Early Islam was a time of great creativity. Scholars excelled in sciences and literature. — Basmah bint Saud

Communism possesses a language which every people can understand – its elements are hunger, envy, and death. — Heinrich Heine

The study of social progress is today not less needed in literature than is the analysis of the human heart. — Alfred de Vigny

An age which is incapable of poetry is incapable of any kind of literature except the cleverness of a decadence. — Raymond Chandler

First of all, the Jewish religion has a great deal in common with the Christian religion because, as Rabbi Gillman points out in the show, Christianity is based on Judaism. Christ was Jewish. — Barbara Walters

Someone who is about to die does not mourn the dead. — Friedrich Durrenmatt

It’ll become obvious that we’ve really been working against ourselves. — Neale Donald Walsch

All round the room my silent servants wait, My friends in every season, bright and dim. — Bryan Procter

Let grace and goodness be the principal loadstone of thy affections. For love which hath ends, will have an end; whereas that which is founded on true virtue, will always continue. — John Dryden

Because most writers have totally unrealistic concepts of how publishing works. — Jim Harrison

Infectious diseases introduced with Europeans, like smallpox and measles, spread from one Indian tribe to another, far in advance of Europeans themselves, and killed an estimated 95% of the New World’s Indian population. — Jared Diamond

In philosophy if you aren’t moving at a snail’s pace you aren’t moving at all. — Iris Murdoch

The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid. — Gilbert K. Chesterton

The thornbush is the old obstacle in the road. It must catch fire if you want to go further. — Franz Kafka

It may be said that poems are in one way like icebergs: only about a third of their bulk appears above the surface of the page. — Howard Nemerov

Music enriches people’s lives in the same way paintings and literature do. Everybody deserves that. — Victoria Wood

For my own family, I would always choose the makeshift, surrogate family formed by various characters unrelated by blood. — Anne Tyler

There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false. — Harold Pinter

Inspiration arrives as a packet of material to be delivered. — John Updike

Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood. — Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Those who appreciate the ways of simple tribes, where every activity is direct and immediately understandable, are able to live among them. — Ella Maillart

There’s a wealth of literature out there which, hopefully, will be, you know, exploded in the future, and I personally find it very rewarding to be involved with classic storytelling, and sort of legendary characters. — Sean Bean

First, they were bred when I was not capable to observe or before I was born; likewise the breeding of men is of a different manner from that of women. — Margaret Cavendish

Architects of grandeur are often the master builders of disillusionment. — Bryant H. McGill

Only the more rugged mortals should attempt to keep up with current literature — George Ade

Literary theory has become a parody of science, generating its own arcane jargon. In the process, tragically, it discourages love of literature for its own sake. — Nancy Pearcey

Oxford is the most dangerous place to which a young man can be sent. — Anthony Trollope

Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm. — Graham Greene

News reporting is a cycle: No matter how much you work at sending a message, it’s only successful if it’s received. — Jessica Savitch

Whether it is the old lady’s fear, or the many ghostly traditions of this place, or the crucifix itself, I do not know, but I am not feeling nearly as easy in my mind as usual. — Bram Stoker

The higher a man stands, the more the word vulgar becomes unintelligible to him. — John Ruskin

The relationship between talent and management is uneasy, at best. — Jessica Savitch

It is doubtless one of Aristotle’s great services that he conceived so clearly the truth that literature is a thing that grows and has a history. — Gilbert Murray

The way to build a complex system that works is to build it from very simple systems that work. — Kevin Kelly

The thing that teases the mind over and over for years, and at last gets itself put down rightly on paper – whether little or great, it belongs to Literature. — Sarah Orne Jewett

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