100 Quotes About Literature

Giving life to the written word is an art form. Writers are the highest of all artists, for they bring to life characters out of all time and space. They create worlds of their own imagining, new worlds that capture our imaginations. Authors don’t merely tell stories; they interpret them, shaping them into something entirely new yet familiar Read more

The world of literature is vast, diverse, and mysterious, but here are some of the best quotes about literature for you to enjoy.

Sometimes two people have to fall apart, to realize how...
Sometimes two people have to fall apart, to realize how much they need to fall back together. Colleen Hoover
What are we doing to each other? Because I know...
What are we doing to each other? Because I know that I am doing to him exactly what he is doing to me. We are sometimes so happy, and never in our lives have we known more unhappiness. Graham Greene
The world has become sad because a puppet was once melancholy. The nihilist, that strange martyr who has no faith, who goes to the stake without enthusiasm, and dies for what he does not believe in, is a purely literary product. He was invented by Turgenev, and completed by Dostoevsky. Robespierre came out of the pages of Rousseau as surely as the People's Palace rose out debris of a novel. Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but moulds it to its purpose. Oscar Wilde
The truth is, everyone likes to look down on someone. If your favorites are all avant-garde writers who throw in Sanskrit and German, you can look down on everyone. If your favorites are all Oprah Book Club books, you can at least look down on mystery readers. Mystery readers have sci-fi readers. Sci-fi can look down on fantasy. And yes, fantasy readers have their own snobbishness. I’ll bet this, though: in a hundred years, people will be writing a lot more dissertations on Harry Potter than on John Updike. Look, Charles Dickens wrote popular fiction. Shakespeare wrote popular fiction–until he wrote his sonnets, desperate to show the literati of his day that he was real artist. Edgar Allan Poe tied himself in knots because no one realized he was a genius. The core of the problem is how we want to define “literature”. The Latin root simply means “letters”. Those letters are either delivered–they connect with an audience–or they don’t. For some, that audience is a few thousand college professors and some critics. For others, its twenty million women desperate for romance in their lives. Those connections happen because the books successfully communicate something real about the human experience. Sure, there are trashy books that do really well, but that’s because there are trashy facets of humanity. What people value in their books–and thus what they count as literature–really tells you more about them than it does about the book. Brent Weeks
Personal experience is the basis of all real literature.
Personal experience is the basis of all real literature. George Henry Lewis
He who writes to his beloved every day is not...
He who writes to his beloved every day is not a lover, but a writer. Dr. Kyaciss Pfiell
For thy sweet love remembr'd such wealth brings That then,...
For thy sweet love remembr'd such wealth brings That then, I scorn to change my state with kings. William Shakespeare
Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and...
Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent Victor Hugo
For my part, I love to give myself up to the illusion of poetry. A hero of fiction that never existed is just as valuable to me as a hero of history that existed a thousand years ago. Washington Irving
Read for yourselves, read for the sake of your inspiration, for the sweet turmoil in your lovely head. But also read against yourselves, read for questioning and impotence, for despair and erudition, read the dry sardonic remarks of cynical philosophers like Cioran or even Carl Schmitt, read newspapers, read those who despise, dismiss or simply ignore poetry and try to understand why they do it. Read your enemies, read those who reinforce your sense of what's evolving in poetry, and also read those whose darkness or malice or madness or greatness you can't understand because only in this way will you grow, outlive yourself, and become what you are. Adam Zagajewski
The glory of the protagonist is always paid for by...
The glory of the protagonist is always paid for by a lot of secondary characters Tony Hoagland
Something genuine like a mark in a toilet, graced with...
Something genuine like a mark in a toilet, graced with guts and gutted with grace E.e. Cummings
No one says a novel has to be one thing....
No one says a novel has to be one thing. It can be anything it wants to be, a vaudeville show, the six o’clock news, the mumblings of wild men saddled by demons. Ishmael Reed
If the word doesn't exist, invent it; but first be...
If the word doesn't exist, invent it; but first be sure it doesn't exist. Charles Baudelaire
Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have...
Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others. Virginia Woolf
Surely it is an odd way to spend your life - sitting alone in a room with a pen in your hand, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, struggling to put words on pieces of paper in order to give birth to what does not exist, except in your head. Why on earth would anyone want to do such a thing? The only answer I have ever been able to come up with is: because you have to, because you have no choice. Paul Auster
Keep reminding yourself that literature is one of the saddest roads that leads to everything. Unknown
Literature was not promulgated by a pale and emasculated critical priesthood singing their litanies in empty churches - nor is it a game for the cloistered elect, the tinhorn mendicants of low calorie despair. Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, their responsibilities have been decreed by our species.--speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1962 . John Steinbeck
Anyone who says writing is easy isn't doing it right.
Anyone who says writing is easy isn't doing it right. Amy Joy
I think that I had better go, Holmes.
I think that I had better go, Holmes.""Not a bit, doctor. Stay where you are. I am lost without my Boswell. Arthur Conan Doyle
In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway. Unknown
In my profession it isn’t a question of telling good literature from bad. Really good literature is seldom appreciated in its own day. The best authors die poor, the bad ones make money – it’s always been like that. What do I, an agent, get out of a literary genius who won’t be discovered for another hundred years? I’ll be dead myself then. Successful incompetents are what I need. Walter Moers
I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak. Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
In literature the ambition of the novice is to acquire...
In literature the ambition of the novice is to acquire the literary language the struggle of the adept is to get rid of it. George Bernard Shaw
I don't mind nothing happening in a book, but nothing happening in a phony way--characters saying things people never say, doing jobs that don't fit, the whole works--is simply asking too much of a reader. Something happening in a phony way must beat nothing happening in a phony way every time, right? I mean, you could prove that, mathematically, in an equation, and you can't often apply science to literature. Nick Hornby
Hold your pen and spare your voice.
Hold your pen and spare your voice. Dorothy Parker
It perhaps might be said--if any one dared--that the most...
It perhaps might be said--if any one dared--that the most worthless literature of the world has been that which has been written by the men of one nation concerning the men of another. Stephen Crane
Nothing is more comical than seriousness understood as a virtue that has to precede all important literature Unknown
Words are a puzzle put them together the right way...
Words are a puzzle put them together the right way and you get something beautiful. Amy Joy
Literature is the art of writing something that will be...
Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice. Cyril Connolly
After reading Edgar Allan Poe. Something the critics have not noticed: a new literary world pointing to the literature of the 20th Century. Scientific miracles, fables on the pattern A+ B, a clear-sighted, sickly literature. No more poetry but analytic fantasy. Something monomaniacal. Things playing a more important part than people; love giving away to deductions and other forms of ideas, style, subject and interest. The basis of the novel transferred from the heart to the head, from the passion to the idea, from the drama to the denouement. . Jules De Goncourt
As often I have been a science fiction writer writing science fiction for the community of science fiction readers, I am also, for good or ill, an American writing American literature to an American audience. Most fundamentally, though, I am a human being writing human literature to a human audience. Orson Scott Card
I want to be able to do anything with words: handle slashing, flaming descriptions like Wells, and use the paradox with the clarity of Samuel Butler, the breadth of Bernard Shaw and the wit of Oscar Wilde, I want to do the wide sultry heavens of Conrad, the rolled-gold sundowns and crazy-quilt skies of Hitchens and Kipling as well as the pastel dawns and twilights of Chesterton. All that is by way of example. As a matter of fact I am a professed literary thief, hot after the best methods of every writer in my generation. F. Scott Fitzgerald
The pale organisms of literary heroes feeding under the author's supervision swell gradually with the reader's lifeblood; so that the genius of a writer consists in giving them the faculty to adapt themselves to that - not very appetizing - food and thrive on it, sometimes for centuries. Vladimir Nabokov
There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than...
There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. George Washington
Science begs literature to develop wings.
Science begs literature to develop wings. Santosh Kalwar
There is only one motive for writing a novel: to be published and read. To me there is no distinction between the mystery novel and the novel, only between good books and bad books. A good book takes the reader into a new world of experience; it is an experiment. A bad book, unless the writing is inept, reinforces the intransigent attitude of the reader not to experiment with a new world. Since there are criminals and psychopaths and sociopaths in all my novels they are in a way psychological thrillers. John Franklin Bardin
My theory on literature is an author who does not indulge in trashiness-writes about people you could introduce into your own home...he did not care to read a book or go to a play about people he would not care to meet at his own dinner table. I believe we should live by certain standards and ideals... Booth Tarkington
One gets wise by meeting people and meeting people through...
One gets wise by meeting people and meeting people through their literature. Girdhar Joshi
Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life. Fernando Pessoa
When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young. Maya Angelou
A wise reader reads the book of genius not with his heart, not so much with his brain, but with his spine. It is there that occurs the telltale tingle... Vladimir Nabokov
The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose. Margaret Atwood
The ability to read becomes devalued when what one has learned to read adds nothing of importance to one's life. Bruno Bettelheim
To enjoy and learn from what you read you must understand the meanings of the words a writer uses. You do yourself a grave disservice if you read around words you don’t know, or worse, merely guess at what they mean without bothering to look them up. For me, reading has always been not only a quest for pleasure and enlightenment but also a word-hunting expedition, a lexical safari. Charles Harrington Elster
The creator of Sir John Falstaff, of Hamlet, and of Rosalind also makes me wish I could be more myself. But that, as I argue throughout this book, is why we should read, and why we should read only the best of what has been written. Harold Bloom
I know that I am a small, weak man, but I have amassed a large library; I dream of dangerous places. Terry Pratchett
Literature is the supreme means by which you renew your sensuous and emotional life and learn a new awareness. F.R. Leavis
Literature for me was a magnificent destiny for which I was not yet fully prepared. 76 Anita Brookner
..begged them as we read our literary texts, only to listen. To wrench open - it takes an effort of will - the portcullis to their teenage hearts for just a couple of hours once a week, to humbly admit another, and better - a Yeats or Shakespeare, a Crazy Jane or Hamlet - and to welcome them, to allow for those tiny spots of time some vibration in the jelly of being, that makes, once it has settled, a subtle new mould.. Otherwise, I would observe tartly..you are merely going to become a product of your family, the few friends you might make and the few lovers you may garner..nothing more than a function of your upbringing - a type. Whereas, if you will only read, and listen, you will admit a multiplicity of voices and points of view, consider them with some humility, allow them gracious entrance however strident or discordant some of them may sound, then you will grow and change, and each of these voices will become a constituent part of who you become, an atom of growing being. It is literature and only literature than can do this. Rick Gekoski
I explained that most great works of the imagination were meant to make you feel like a stranger in your own home. The best fiction always forced us to question what we took for granted. It questioned traditions and expectations when they seemed too immutable. I told my students I wanted them in their readings to consider in what ways these works unsettled them, made them a little uneasy, made them look around and consider the world, like Alice in Wonderland, through different eyes. . Azar Nafisi
Literature is map of humanity, the documenter of civilization. Books introduce us to the landscape of the greatest minds of every century. Kilroy J. Oldster
Reading books makes us more attentive to our personage and the aesthetic world that we live in. Writers that we idolize use language, logic, and nuance to paint physical and emotional scenes with refined precision. A writer’s use of vivid language creates lingering aftereffects that work their wonder on the reader’s malleable mind. A stirred mind resurrects our semiconscious memories; it causes us to summon up enduring images of our family, friends, and acquaintances. Just as importantly, inspirational writing makes us recognize our own telling character traits and identify our formerly unexpressed thoughts and feelings. Kilroy J. Oldster
For several years, while I searched for, found, and studied black women writers, I deliberately shut O'Connor out, feeling almost ashamed that she had reached me first. And yet, even when I no longer read her, I missed her, and realized that though the rest of America might not mind, having endured it so long, I would never be satisfied with a segregated literature. I would have to read Zora Hurston and Flannery O'Connor, Nella Larsen and Carson McCullers, Jean Toomer and William Faulkner, before I could begin to feel well read at all. Alice Walker
Good literature is one key to peace. When we stop reading each other, when we stop paying attention to each other's words and stories, we too easily oppose one another. Dave DiGrazie
A translation is no translation, ’ he said, ‘unless it will give you the music of a poem along with the words of it. John Millington Synge
Music and literature, the two temporal arts, contrive their pattern of sounds in time; or, in other words, of sounds and pauses.  Communication may be made in broken words, the business of life be carried on with substantives alone; but that is not what we call literature; and the true business of the literary artist is to plait or weave his meaning, involving it around itself; so that each sentence, by successive phrases, shall first come into a kind of knot, and then, after a moment of suspended meaning, solve and clear itself.- O N SOME TECHNICAL ELEMENTS OF STYLE IN LITERATURE . Robert Louis Stevenson
A great memory does not make a mind, any more than a dictionary is a piece of literature. John Henry Newman
I see that you are heartlessly clever. For you know how to Love, but not Forever. You still return to me in flashes, so strong it clouds my Mind.The fire has turned to ashes, and yet, you’re not behind. Meraaqi
To read Shakespeare is to feel encompassed -- the plays contain practically every word I know, practically every character type I have ever met, and practically every idea I have ever had. Kenji Yoshino
This was the curse of the voracious reader, she realized. Real life never quite measured up to the heightened and precise contours of her literary worlds. A real war was never as true as a fictive one. Reif Larsen
Ah youth, youth! That's what happens when you go steeping your soul into Shakespeare Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Sex, like art, can unsettle a soul, can grind a heart in a mortar. Sex, like literature, can sneak the other within one's wall, even if for only a moment, a moment before one immures oneself again. Rabih Alameddine
Who is the most worthy of admiration, musician or audience? Probably the musician will tell that his audience and the musician that his audience Unknown
Whom boasts about his happiness, cause doesn't got it! Unknown
Literature should be a kind of revolutionary manifesto against established morality and established society. Guo Moruo
A small amount of good literature can often teach more about the inner life than volumes of psychology. Thomas Moore
A myth is something that has never happened, but is happening all the time. Joseph Campbell
Narratives are universally used for mediating emotional experiences. The purpose of aesthetic objects has been defined, in part, as 'the awakening, intensifying, or maintaining of definite emotional states' (Lee, 1913: 99—100). When we read or hear stories, we put aside our own goals and plans, and we temporarily replace our own goals and plans with those of the story characters. Mikkel Wallentin
...empathy is the driving force behind the experience of emotions in narratives (Keen, 2006; Mar et al., 2006; Oatley, 2011). Mikkel Wallentin
Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts. Charles Dickens
There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams -- not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart. . F. Scott Fitzgerald
Without literature, life is hell. Charles Bukowski
Serious literature does not exist to make life easy but to complicate it. Witold Gombrowicz
Every man's memory is his private literature. Aldous Huxley
I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken - and I'd rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived. Margaret Mitchell
People aren’t supposed to look back. I’m certainly not going to do it anymore. Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye? I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life. It is hard work to fill one's life with meaning. That I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here. Chaim Potok
Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress. When I get fed up with one, I spend the night with the other Anton Chekhov
The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. Oscar Wilde
I hate vulgar realism in literature. The man who would call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one. Oscar Wilde
The aim of literature ... is the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart. Donald Barthelme
All I wanted was to be loved for myself." (Erik) Gaston Leroux
Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is! Anne Frank
Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combinatoria of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Italo Calvino
Oh! Do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch. Jane Austen
He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination. Unknown
I could not be happy with a man whose taste did not in every point coincide with my own. He must enter in all my feelings; the same books, the same music must charm us both. Jane Austen
Time is a river...and books are boats. Many volumes start down that stream, only to be wrecked and lost beyond recall in its sands. Only a few, a very few, endure the testings of time and live to bless the ages following. Joseph Fort Newton
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. Edith Wharton
High and fine literature is wine, and mine is only water; but everybody likes water. Mark Twain
My definition of good literature is that which can be read by an educated reader, and reread with increased pleasure. Gene Wolfe
Literature is always personal, always one man's vision of the world, one man's experience, and it can only be popular when men are ready to welcome the visions of others. W.b. Yeats
If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul. Unknown
Reality is not an inspiration for literature. At its best, literature is an inspiration for reality. Romain Gary
Have you learned the lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who braced themselves against you, and disputed passage with you? Walt Whitman
It is true, that which I have revealed to you; there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream--a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought--a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities! Mark Twain
Literature duplicates the experience of living in a way that nothing else can, drawing you so fully into another life that you temporarily forget you have one of your own. That is why you read it, and might even sit up in bed till early dawn, throwing your whole tomorrow out of whack, simply to find out what happens to some people who, you know perfectly well, are made up. Barbara Kingsolver
I do not write with ease, nor am I ever pleased with anything I write. And so I rewrite. Margaret Mitchell
If I read a book that impresses me, I have to take myself firmly in hand before I mix with other people; otherwise they would think my mind rather queer. Anne Frank