"That was the time in my life when I was happiest. Why, you ask? It’s a puzzle I leave to you analysts of the psyche. I have little time for notions of repression and sublimation, for symbols of the unconscious or the subconscious. I have no wish to be autopsied while I am still alive. Let what I am remain private, whole, and mysterious. Let it continue to yield sufferings and joys uncomprehended. And when I die may it all be destroyed, like an unopened letter."
"I had no one to help me, but the T. S. Eliot helped me. So when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place."
— Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (via junkycosmonaut)
"One wants to tell a story, like Scheherezade, in order not to die. It’s one of the oldest urges in mankind. It’s a way of stalling death."
— Carlos Fuentes (via booklover)
"She hated the namelessness of women in stories, as if they lived and died so that men could have metaphysical insights."
— Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding (via earlyfrost)
"She had the rapt look of one brushing through crowds on a summer’s afternoon, when the trees are rustling, the wheels churning yellow, and the tumult of the present seems like an elegy for past happiness and past summers, and there rose in her mind a curious sadness, as if time and eternity showed through skirts and waistcoasts, and she saw people passing tragically to destruction."
— Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room (via fuckyeahvirginiawoolf)
"At the heart of the emptiness there is born in me a sudden understanding."
"For the time, her own body was the source of all the life in the world, which tried to burst forth here — there — and was repressed now by the imposition of ponderous stupidity, the weight of the entire world. Thus tormented, she would twist her hands together, for all things were wrong, all people stupid. She represented them as aimless masses of matter, floating hither and thither, without aim except to impede her. What were they doing, those other people in the world?"
— Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out (via fuckyeahvirginiawoolf)
"If what’s always distinguished bad writing—flat characters, a narrative world that’s cliched and not recognizably human, etc.—is also a description of today’s world, then bad writing becomes an ingenious mimesis of a bad world… Look man, we’d probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it."
"For what can one know even of the people one lives with every day? she asked. Are we not all prisoners? She had read a wonderful play about a man who scratched at the wall of his cell, and she had felt that was true of life—one scratched on the wall."
— Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
"She became aware of something about her. With an effort, she roused herself, to see what it was that penetrated her consciousness. The tall white lilies were reeling in the moonlight, and the air was charged with their perfume, as with a presence. Mrs. Morel gasped slightly in fear. She touched the big, pallid flowers on their petals, then shivered. They seemed to be stretching in the moonlight. She put her hand into one white bin: the gold scarcely showed on her fingers by moonlight. She bent down, to look at the bin-ful of yellow pollen: but it only appeared dusky. Then she drank a deep draught of the scent. It almost made her dizzy."
— D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers
"Then he left her again, and joined the others. Soon they started home. Miriam loitered behind, alone. She did not fit in with the others; she could very rarely get into human relations with anyone: so her friend, her companion, her lover was nature. She saw the sun declining wanly. In the dusky, cold hedgerows were some red leaves. She lingered to gather them, tenderly, passionately. The love in her finger-tips caressed the leaves, the passion in her heart came to a glow upon the leaves."
— D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers
"I would paint a portrait which would bring the tears, had I canvass for it, and the scene should be — solitude, and the figures — solitude — and the lights and shades, each a solitude."
— Emily Dickinson, from a letter to Susan Gilbert, 27 November-3 December 1854 (via proustitute)
"Only one thing remained reachable, close and secure amid all losses: language"
— Paul Celan
"To finish is sadness to a writer—a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn’t really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done."
— John Steinbeck
"I promise to make you so alive that the fall of dust on furniture will deafen you."