Install Theme

A PORTRAIT A DAY KEEPS MYSELF SANE

\

Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends.

Alphonse de Lamartine

Formerly I believed books were made like this: a poet came, lightly opened his lips, and the inspired fool burst into song – if you please! But it seems, before they can launch a song, poets must tramp for days with callused feet, and the sluggish fish of the imagination flounders softly in the slush of the heart. And while, with twittering rhymes, they boil a broth of loves and nightingales, the tongueless street merely writhes for lack of something to shout or say

Vladimir Mayakovsky

How I envy those clerks who go by to their offices in the morning! There’s the day’s work cut out for them; no question of mood and feeling; they have just to work at something, and when the evening comes, they have earned their wages, and they are free to rest and enjoy themselves. What an insane thing it is to make literature one’s only means of support! When the most trivial accident may at any time prove fatal to one’s power of work for weeks or months. No, that is the unpardonable sin! To make a trade of an art! I am rightly served for attempting such a brutal folly.

George R. Gissing

Thus it has come about that our theoretical and critical literature, instead of giving plain, straightforward arguments in which the author at least always knows what he is saying and the reader what he is reading, is crammed with jargon, ending at obscure crossroads where the author loses its readers. Sometimes these books are even worse: they are just hollow shells. The author himself no longer knows just what he is thinking and soothes himself with obscure ideas which would not satisfy him if expressed in plain speech.

Carl von Clausewitz

There’s something comforting, almost soothing, about realism, and it’s nothing to do with shocks of recognition — well it wouldn’t, since shocks never console — or even with the familiarity that breeds content, so as much as with the fact that the realistic world, in literature, at least, is one that, from a certain perspective, always makes sense, even in its bum deals and tragedies, inasmuch as it plays — even showboats and grandstands — to our passion for reason. The realistic tradition presumes to deal, I mean, with cause and effect, with some deep need in readers — in all of us — for justice, with the demand for the explicable reap/sow benefits (or punishments), with the law of just desserts — with all God’s and Nature’s organic bookkeeping. And since form fits and follows function, style is instructed not to make waves but merely to tag along, easy as pie, taking in everything that can be seen along the way but not much more and nothing at all of what isn’t immediately available to the naked eye.
 Stanley Elkin

“The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

“Literature is greater than any of us, dammit.”
― Romain Gary

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.”
― Wallace Stevens

“A raznochinets needs no memory—it is enough for him to tell of the books he has read, and his biography is done.”
― Osip Mandelstam

“There is no remedy so easy as books, which if they do not give cheerfulness, at least restore quiet to the most troubled mind.”
― Mary Wortley Montagu