Joseph Brodsky

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.

The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even—if you will—eccentricity.

For darkness restores what light cannot repair.

Life—the way it really is—is a battle not between good and bad, but between bad and worse.

The fact that we are living does not mean we are not sick.

What concerns me is that man, unable to articulate, to express himself adequately, reverts to action. Since the vocabulary of action is limited, as it were, to his body, he is bound to act violently, extending his vocabulary with a weapon where there should have been an adjective.

When hit by boredom, let yourself be crushed by it; submerge, hit bottom. In general, with things unpleasant, the rule is: The sooner you hit bottom, the faster you surface. The idea here is to exact a full look at the worst. The reason boredom deserves such scrutiny is that it represents pure, undiluted time in all its repetitive, redundant, monotonous splendor.
Boredom is your window on the properties of time that one tends to ignore to the likely peril of one's mental equilibrium. It is your window on time's infinity. Once this window opens, don't try to shut it; on the contrary, throw it wide open.


Naguib Mahfouz

How do we grow up for this blue sky, and for the earth this greenness, and for the lord this crap, and for the heart this wonderful ability to love, and for this spirit the infinite energy of faith. How we are hungry and in the world we love them, and we admire them, and those who love us, and those who like us. 

Fear does not prevent death, but it prevents life.

Revolutions managed by the dahah and executed by the brave and then earned by the cowards.

What I most dreaded between what I want and what I can.

It is surprising that the people of our neighborhood laugh, what are they laughing at? They chant to the victor whoever wins, and cheers for the strong, whatever the strong, and prostrate before the Nabateans, so that they are guided by all the terror that is hidden in their depths.

Not the worst of bad luck but satisfaction with it.

If something lasts, the seasons will not go on?

Blessed are the fools, they are the happy ones.

It was not surprising that the Egyptians worshiped Pharaoh, but it is strange that Pharaoh really believed that he was a god.


Camilo José Cela

I, sir, am not bad, although I would not lack reasons to be so.

I'm not made to philosophize, I do not have the heart for it. My heart is more like a machine for making blood to be spilled in a knife fight ... 

The one who resists, wins.

The bad thing about those who believe they are in possession of the truth is that when they have to prove it, they do not succeed.

Things are never as we see them at first sight, and so it happens that when we start to see them up close, when we start working on them, they present us with such strange and even unknown aspects; such happens with the faces that we imagine, with the people we are going to know, that we make them in such a way or in the head, to forget them suddenly at the sight of the true. 

I continue to classify humanity - for my use, which is what matters to me, and may God forgive me - in friends and sons of bitches.

On the hinder slope of the hill two little goatherds are tending to flock of goats; one of them is sitting on a whittling rock to crook out of ash, while the other is trying to coax a few tweets out of a reed flute. 


Octavio Paz

Deserve your dream.

Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone.

Love is an attempt to penetrate another being, but it can only be realized if the surrender is mutual.

Beyond myself, somewhere, 
I wait for my arrival.

Because two bodies, naked and entwined,
leap over time, they are invulnerable,
nothing can touch them, they return to the source,
there is no you, no I, no tomorrow,
no yesterday, no names, the truth of two
in a single body, a single soul,
oh total being. . .

I don't believe that there are dangerous writers: the danger of certain books is not in the books themselves but in the passions of their readers.

It is always difficult to give oneself up; few persons anywhere ever succeed in doing so, and even fewer transcend the possessive stage to know love for what it actually is: a perpetual discovery, and immersion in the waters of reality, an unending re-creation.

This is perhaps the most noble aim of poetry, to attach ourselves to the world around us, to turn desire into love, to embrace, finally what always evades us, what is beyond, but what is always there – the unspoken, the spirit, the soul.


Nadine Gordimer

The truth isn't always beauty, but the hunger for it is.

I have failed at many things, but I have never been afraid.

I'm a candle flame that sways in currents of air you can't see. You need to be the one who steadies me to burn.

Books don't need batteries.

What is the purpose of writing? For me personally, it is really to explain the mystery of life, and the mystery of life includes, of course, the personal, the political, the forces that make us what we are while there's another force from inside battling to make us something else.

The facts are always less than what really happened.

Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you've made sense of one small area.

My answer is: Recognize yourself in others.

The solitude of writing is also quite frightening. It's quite close to madness, one just disappears for a day and loses touch.

Nothing factual that I write or say will be as truthful as my fiction.

A truly living human being cannot remain neutral.


Wisława Szymborska

I'm old-fashioned and think that reading books is the most glorious pastime that humankind has yet devised.

When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.
When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.
When I pronounce the word nothing,
I make something no nonbeing can hold.

Let the people who never find true love
keep saying that there's no such thing.
Their faith will make it easier for them to live and die.

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.

Every beginning, after all, is nothing but a sequel, and the book of events is always open in the middle.

I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.

At the very beginning of my creative life I loved humanity. I wanted to do something good for mankind. Soon I understood that it isn’t possible to save mankind.

Such certainty is beautiful, but uncertainty is more beautiful still.

I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.

When it comes, you’ll be dreaming
that you don’t need to breathe;
that breathless silence is
the music of the dark
and it’s part of the rhythm
to vanish like a spark.


Dario Fo

A theater, a literature, an artistic expression that does not speak for its own time has no relevance.

Know how to live the time that is given you.

Our homeland is the whole world. Our law is liberty. We have but one thought, revolution in our hearts. 

Their [politicians] fiction mechanisms are immune to trauma.

Love is the Creator's greatest invention and, as St. Ambrose said, that is especially true when our entire spirit and body are involved in this extraordinary rite, which is after all the rite of our own birth and of our descent.

An old proverb says:" If the hyenas are on your heels, throw them to feed the juiciest of bites: a newborn lamb. You will see, when they open their jaws to crush their prey, there is no hyena or jackal to pay attention to the rest.

What is the use of being rich if you do not have a poor person around you to pity them?

The most painful goodbye is that of the wise man who leaves you forever.


Günter Grass

Even bad books are books and therefore sacred.

Granted: I AM an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peep-hole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me.

Today I know that all things are watching, that nothing goes unseen, that even wallpaper has a better memory than human beings.

You are vain and wicked--as a genius should be.

Translation is that which transforms everything so that nothing changes.

After the collapse of socialism, capitalism remained without a rival. This unusual situation unleashed its greedy and - above all - its suicidal power. The belief is now that everything - and everyone - is fair game.

The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.

If Jesus had been a hunchback, they could hardly have nailed him to the cross.

Because men
are killing the forests
the fairy tales are running away.
The spindle doesn't know
whom to prick,
the little girl's hands
that her father has chopped off,
haven't a single tree to catch hold of,
the third wish remains unspoken.
King Thrushbeard no longer owns one thing.
Children can no longer get lost.
The number seven means no more than exactly seven.
Because men have killed the forests,
the fairy tales are trotting off to the cities
and end badly.


Gao Xingjian

You should know that there is little you can seek in this world, that there is no need for you to be so greedy, in the end all you can achieve are memories, hazy, intangible, dreamlike memories which are impossible to articulate. When you try to relate them, there are only sentences, the dregs left from the filter of linguistic structures.

With the beginning of life, comes the thirst for truth, whereas the ability to lie is gradually acquired in the process of trying to stay alive.

Young man, nature is not frightening, it's people who are frightening! You just need to get to know nature and it will become friendly. This creature known as man is of course highly intelligent, he's capable of manufacturing almost anything from rumours to test-tube babies and yet he destroys two to three species every day. This is the absurdity of man.

Only a lunatic would think that art is superior to nature.

I believe in science but I also believe in fate.

Men always look differently at women, even if it's not your intention it is wrongly interpreted as such.

Reality exists only through experience, and it must be personal experience. However, once related, even personal experience becomes a narrative.

It's in literature that true life can be found. It's under the mask of fiction that you can tell the truth.


Imre Kertész

You just sit there and tolerate it, the same way everything in this country is tolerated. Every deception, every lie, every bullet in the brains. Just as you are already tolerating bullets in the brains that will be implemented only after the bullet is put in your brains.

The West in general should stand up more for its own values. It is not always worthwhile to compromise.

Man, when reduced to nothing, or in other words a survivor, is not tragic but comic, because he has no fate.

As we pass one step, and as we recognize it as being behind us, the next one already rises up before us. By the time we learn everything, we slowly come to understand it. And while you come to understand everything gradually, you don't remain idle at any moment: you are already attending to your new business; you live, you act, you move, you fulfill the new requirements of every new step of development. If, on the other hand, there were no schedule, no gradual enlightenment, if all the knowledge descended on you at once right there in one spot, then it's possible neither your brains nor your heart could bear it.

I read somewhere; while God still existed one sustained a dialogue with God, and now that He no longer exists one has to sustain a dialogue with other people, I guess, or, better still, with oneself, that is to say, one talks or mumbles to oneself.

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