Quotes of Note

“There are two ways of creating a fictitious character; one, the more superficial, perhaps, is to take observed behavior and try to deduce from it the motives from which it springs.  The other is to take some passing mood of one’s own mind and say to oneself, if this fleeting mood were to become a dominant attitude of mind, what would my behavior be under given circumstances?” – Dorothy L. Sayers

“I give way to no one in my admiration for the good man [Charles Dickens].  But I think that if he had dropped all the Turveydrops and Tittletits and the other extraordinary names he gave to people, he would have made his work more realistic.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

“I have always thought of myself as a freak, off to one side, who had the great good fortune to stumble into precisely the style of writing for which my personality and education fitted me.  Lucky is the artist to whom that happens.” – James A. Michener

“It will easily be believed that I am a fond parent to every child of my fancy, and that no one can ever love that family as dearly as I love them.  But like many fond parents I have in my heart of hearts a favorite child.  And his name is David Copperfield.” – Charles Dickens

“It would be a great joke on the people in my books if I just left them high and dry, waiting for me.  If they bully me and do what they choose I have them over a barrel.  They can’t move until I pick up a pencil.  They are frozen, turned to ice standing one foot up and with the same smile they had yesterday when I stopped.”  – John Steinbeck.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood.  This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen.  Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself ‘Let’s try to make a story about it.’ ” – C. S. Lewis

“The one time I met William Faulkner, I asked him how he had come to imagine his truculent black character Lucas Beauchamp.  ‘I saw him,’ answered Faulkner, ‘walking across my typewriter.’ ” – Irving Howe

“My favorite characters are Sarah Gamp—a cruel ruthless woman, a drunkard, opportunist, unreliable, most of her character was bad, but at least it was character; Mrs. Harris, Falstaff, Prince Hal, Don Quixote, and Sancho, of course.  Lady Macbeth I always admire.  And Bottom, Ophelia, and Mercutio—both he and Mrs. Gamp coped with life, didn’t ask any favors, never whined.  Huck Finn, of course and Jim.  Tom Sawyer I never liked much—an awful prig.” – William Faulkner

“I was sitting one morning at work upon [The Last Chronicle of Barset] at the end of the long drawing-room of the Atheneum Club, —as was then my wont when I had slept the previous night in London.  As I was there, two clergymen, each with a magazine in his hand, seated themselves, one on one side of the fire and one on the other, close to me.  They soon began to abuse what they were reading, and each was reading some part of some novel of mine.  The gravamen [essential part] of their complaint lay in the fact that I reintroduced the same characters so often!  ‘Here,’ said one, ‘is that archdeacon whom we have had in every novel he has ever written.’  ‘And here,’ said the other, ‘is the old duke whom he has talked about till everybody is tired of him.  If I could not invent new characters, I would not write novels at all.’  Then one of them fell foul of Mrs. Proudie.  It was impossible for me not to hear their words, and almost impossible to hear them and be quiet.  I got up, and standing between them, I acknowledged myself to be the culprit.  ‘As for Mrs. Proudie,’ I said, ‘I will go home and kill her before the week is over.’  And so I did.” – Anthony Trollope

“When I read that great novelists like Dickens and Trollope ‘killed off’ a character, or changed the conclusion of a tale, I am dumbfounded.  What then was their own relationship to their subject?  But to show how mysterious and incalculable the whole business is, one has only to remember that Trollope ‘went home and killed’ Mrs. Proudie because he had heard some fool at his club complaining that she had lived long enough; and yet that death scene thus arbitrarily brought about is one of the greatest pages he ever wrote.” – Edith Whatron

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