Thoughts on Writing and Reading?
Mark Twain: The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug. (Mark Twain. Letter to George Bainton, 10/15/1888)
Emily Dickinson: There is no Frigate like a book to take us lands away . Nor any coursers like a page of prancing Poetry.
Benjamin Franklin: If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worth Reading or do things worth writing about. (Poor Richard’s Almanack)
William Shakespeare: My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; Words without thoughts never to heaven go. (Claudius, Act II, scene iii)
Oscar Wilde: It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn't. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read. (The Importance of Being Earnest)
Miguel Cervantes: It is not the hand but the understanding of a man that may be said to write. (Don Quixote)
Louisa May Alcott: Human minds are more full of mysteries than any written book and more changeable than the cloud shapes in the air (Abbot’s Ghost: A Christmas Story)
What’s the Best Part about Getting Old?
Jonathan Swift: We are so fond of one another, because our ailments are the same. (Journal to Stella. February 1, 1711)
What’s the Meaning of Life?
George Bernard Shaw: The novelties of one generation are only the resuscitated fashions of the generation before last. (Three Plays for Puritans, Preface)
Jane Austen: Next week I shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you know my principal hopes of happiness depend. (Letter 1798-10-27)
George K. Chesterton: A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it. (The Everlasting Man (1925); Ch. 6: The Five Deaths of the Faith
Socrates: Bad men live that they may eat and drink whereas good men eat and drink that they may live. (As quoted by Plutarch)
Victor Hugo: To die is nothing; but it is terrible not to live. (Les Miserables)
Theodore Roosevelt: A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad. (As quoted in Art of Communicating Ideas (1952) by William Joseph Grace)
Louisa May Alcott: It takes people a long time to learn the difference between talent and genius, especially ambitious young men and women. (Little Women)
What Do You Think of Your Compatriots?
Mark Twain: “To me [Edgar Allen Poe's] prose is unreadable—like Jane Austin's [sic]. No there is a difference. I could read his prose on salary, but not Jane's. Jane is entirely impossible. It seems a great pity that they allowed her to die a natural death.” (Letter to W. D. Howells, 1/18/1909)
What's Your Take on Marriage?
Sholem Aleichem: I was foolish enough to butt in on a married couple in order to make up between them, the outcome of which was that I took it on the chin from my own wife. (Railroad Stories, Competitors)