Quotes of Note

“Miss Brodie was easily the equal of both sisters together, she was the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle and they were only the squares on the other two sides.” – Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie 

“Depression afflicts millions directly, and millions more who are relatives or friends of victims.  It has been estimated that as many as one in ten Americans will suffer from the illness.  As assertively democratic as a Norman Rockwell poster, it strikes indiscriminately at all ages, races, creeds and classes, though women are at considerably higher risk than men.  The occupational list (dressmakers, barge captains, sushi chefs, cabinet members) of its patients is too long and tedious to give here; it is enough to say that very few people escape being a potential victim of the disease, at least in its milder form.  Despite depression’s eclectic reach, it has been demonstrated with fair convincingness that artistic types (especially poets) are particularly vulnerable to the disorder—which, in its graver, clinical manifestation takes upward of twenty percent of its victims by way of suicide.  Just a few of these fallen artists, all modern, make up a sad but scintillant roll call: Hart Crane, Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Arshile Gorky, Cesare Pavese, Romaine Gary, Vachel Lindsay, Sylvia Plath, Henry de Montherlant, Mark Rothko, John Berryman, Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, William Inge, Diane Arbus, Tadeusz Borowski, Paul Celan, Anne Sexton, Sergei Esenin, Vladimir Mayakovsky—the list goes on and on. . . And why were they destroyed, while others—similarly stricken—struggled through?” – William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (1990)

“It helps to remember why we got into this whole fiction-writing ‘business’ to begin with: because we wanted to see what was behind that door, if not to break it down altogether. Because writers are born snoops and eavesdroppers and gossips and sneaky little diary readers just about driven by what we don’t know. We’re not expressing ourselves in our writing so much as we are searching for the otherwise inexpressible.” – Max Winter

“[Henry] James transfigured the novel form, or at least offered it the possibility to be something entirely new. If I were asked to identify the place where he effected this change, I should point to chapter 27 of The Portrait [of a Lady] – ‘obviously the best thing in the book,’ in the author’s opinion – when one night Isabel Archer sits alone by the fireside in the palace in Rome where she lives with her husband, Gilbert Osmond, and contemplates the disaster that she, with the secret connivance of others, has made of her life.

“Here, in this chapter, as it navigates the stream of Isabel’s consciousness, was the ‘psychological novel’ born.” – John Banville, “Novels Were Never the Same after Henry James

 “Mabel [Tolkien’s mother] gave Ronald [J.R.R. Tolkien] more than a lovely world in which to grow up; she gave him an array of fascinating tools to explore and interpret it. We know little of her own education, but she clearly valued learning and vigorously set about transmitting what she knew to Ronald. She instructed him in Latin, French, German, and the rudiments of linguistics, awakening in him a lifelong thirst for languages, alphabets, and etymologies. She taught him to draw and to paint, arts in which he would develop his own unmistakable style, primitive and compelling, Rousseau with a dash of Roerich. She passed on to him her peculiar calligraphy; he would later master traditional forms and invent his own. She tried to teach him piano, although that proved a failure. And she introduced him to children’s literature, including Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandThe Princess and the GoblinThe Princess and Curdie, and Andrew Lang’s collections of fairy tales. In George MacDonald he encountered goblins and, although he did not realize it at the time, Christian mythopoesis; in Lang’s retelling of bits of the Old Norse Volsunga saga he met Fáfnir the dragon, a creature that excited his imagination like no other, and the prototype of Smaug of The Hobbit: ‘The dragon had the trade-mark Of Faerie written plain upon him … I desired dragons with a profound desire.’ It was his first baptism into the enchantments of Faerie, an otherworldly realm just touching the fringes of ordinary life and leading, in its farthest reaches, to the outskirts of the supernatural.” – Philip and Carol Zaleski, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings

“When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.” – Ray Bradbury

“I begin with writing the first sentence—and trusting to Almighty God for the second.” – Laurence Sterne

“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” – Voltaire

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