Quotes of Note

“It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating.  Today, for instance, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the leaves, the wind, the words my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes.” – Gustave Flaubert

“The power of fictitious writing, for good as well as for evil, is a thing which ought most seriously to be reflected upon.” Harriet Beecher Stowe

“A writer is a world trapped in a person.” Victor Hugo

“The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head.” – Noah Webster

“Study has been for me a sovereign remedy against all the disappointments of life.  I have never known any trouble that an hour’s reading would not dissipate.” – Montesquieu

_ _ _

The quotes below come from the pages of Booknotes: Americas Finest Authors on Reading, Writing, and the Power of Ideas.  Brian Lamb, the founder of C-SPAN, has edited the thoughts of various nonfiction authors who appeared on the series Booknotes to create this particular book.

“You make an acquaintance with a book as you do with a person.  After ten or fifteen pages, you know with whom you have to deal.  When you have a good book, you really have something of importance.” – Shimon Perez

“The book that I could honestly say probably changed my life, though I didn’t know it then—I see it now—was [Bruce] Catton’s A Stillness at Appomattox, which my aunt gave me as a graduation present from college.  I aspired to write fiction, novels, maybe plays.  When I went to college, everybody was going to be a writer, and I never dared talk about that.  I never dared mention that.  It seemed very presumptuous.  But I secretly wanted to do that—to be that.  When I saw the Catton book, I realized that history could be written about life.  It could be written about human beings.  It could be written about the feeling of places.  It had all the narrative quality and the art of the written word about something that really happened.  That was a revelation to me.” – David McCullough

“I write with a “dip pen,” which causes all kinds of problems—everything from finding blotters to pen points—but it makes me take my time, and it gives me a real feeling of satisfaction.  I’m getting where I’m going.  A dip pen is the kind you used to see in post offices all the time when you were a boy.  I would love to find one of those inkwells they had in post offices.  They had a spring in them.  When you pressed down, it would wet the pen point, and then when you lifted it out, it would close it again so the ink didn’t evaporate.  I can’t find one.  I’m absolutely certain that right here in Washington there are 5 million of the in a warehouse somewhere, but I can’t find one.  But a dip pen, you have to dip it in the ink and write three or four words and dip it again.  It has a real influence on the way I write, so different not only from a typewriter but from using a pencil or a fountain pen.” – Shelby Foote

A lot of stuff is available on microfilm, but the archival collections are not open anymore because of vandalism, because of people stealing manuscripts and all this kind of stuff.  When I first worked at the National Archives, they just turned me loose in the stacks.  Now you’ve got to go in, and you’ve got to tell them what volume you want or document you want, and you sit down in a waiting room and they will bring the stuff down for you, and that’s that.  You can’t work that way; you can’t get things done.” – Forrest McDonald

“There have been a lot of books about [General George S.] Patton.  Most of them have been about Patton’s battles and campaigns.  No one had shown how Patton’s early life had shaped his career, had shaped the man who later became a general, and I wanted to go back, I wanted to explore his antecedents.  I wanted to look at what made him tick.  One just doesn’t become a general that quickly.  This was a lifetime of preparation for Patton.  He was sixty years old when he died.  The last four of those years are the years that we know about.  The other fifty-six years of his life were fascinating.  He had so many different careers and achievements that had he never entered World War II, had he been retired, for example, he would have been a success.  He didn’t think so, but he would have been.” – Carlo D’Este

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