„Lately, I feel like my life is a book written in a language I don't know how to read.“

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William Hazlitt photo

„A scholar is like a book written in a dead language — it is not every one that can read in it.“

—  William Hazlitt English writer 1778 - 1830
"Common Places," No. 13, The Literary Examiner (September - December 1823)

Samuel Beckett photo

„I do not feel like spending the rest of my life writing books that no one will read. It is not as though I wanted to write them.“

—  Samuel Beckett Irish novelist, playwright, and poet 1906 - 1989
Context: I think the next little bit of excitement is flying. I hope I am not too old to take it up seriously, nor too stupid about machines to qualify as a commercial pilot. I do not feel like spending the rest of my life writing books that no one will read. It is not as though I wanted to write them. The Letters of Samuel Beckett 1929–1940 (2009), p. 362

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Alberto Manguel photo
W. Somerset Maugham photo

„It was not till quite late in life that I discovered how easy it is to say: "I don't know."“

—  W. Somerset Maugham British playwright, novelist, short story writer 1874 - 1965
A Writer's Notebook (1946), p. 258

Rigoberto González photo
Sukirti Kandpal photo
Jane Austen photo
Michael Mewshaw photo
Barbara Kingsolver photo
John Updike photo
John Lancaster Spalding photo

„To ask them to read books whose life-breath is pure thought and beauty is as though one asked them to read things written in a language they do not understand and have no desire to learn.“

—  John Lancaster Spalding Catholic bishop 1840 - 1916
Aphorisms and Reflections (1901), Context: The multitude are matter-of-fact. They live in commonplace concerns and interests. Their problems are, how to get more plentiful and better food and drink, more comfortable and beautiful clothing, more commodious dwellings, for themselves and their children. When they seek relaxation from their labors for material things, they gossip of the daily happenings, or they play games or dance or go to the theatre or club, or they travel or they read story books, or accounts in the newspapers of elections, murders, peculations, marriages, divorces, failures and successes in business; or they simply sit in a kind of lethargy. They fall asleep and awake to tread again the beaten path. While such is their life, it is not possible that they should take interest or find pleasure in religion, poetry, philosophy, or art. To ask them to read books whose life-breath is pure thought and beauty is as though one asked them to read things written in a language they do not understand and have no desire to learn. A taste for the best books, as a taste for whatever is best, is acquired; and it can be acquired only by long study and practice. It is a result of free and disinterested self-activity, of efforts to attain what rarely brings other reward than the consciousness of having loved and striven for the best. But the many have little appreciation of what does not flatter or soothe the senses. Their world, like the world of children and animals, is good enough for them; meat and drink, dance and song, are worth more, in their eyes, than all the thoughts of all the literatures. A love tale is better than a great poem, and the story of a bandit makes Plutarch seem tiresome. This is what they think and feel, and what, so long as they remain what they are, they will continue to think and feel. We do not urge a child to read Plato—why should we find fault with the many for not loving the best books? pp. 11-12

Courtney Love photo

„If I fuckin' die without having written two, three, or four brilliant rock songs… I don't know why I lived my life.“

—  Courtney Love American punk singer-songwriter, musician, actress, and artist 1964
1991–1995, Remarks about her ambitions early in her career (1991), Not Bad for a Girl documentary (1995)

Warren G. Harding photo

„I don't know what to do or where to turn in this taxation matter. Somewhere there must be a book that tells all about it, where I could go to straighten it out in my mind. But I don't know where the book is, and maybe I couldn't read it if I found it.“

—  Warren G. Harding American politician, 29th president of the United States (in office from 1921 to 1923) 1865 - 1923
1920s, Remark to Judson Welliver, as quoted in Francis Russell (1968) The Shadow of Blooming Grove.

V.S. Naipaul photo
Stephen Spender photo

„I regard my life as rather a failure in the only thing in which I wanted it to succeed. I have not written the books I ought to have written and I have written a lot of books I should not have written.“

—  Stephen Spender English poet and man of letters 1909 - 1995
Context: I am very honoured by your wanting to write a life of me. But the fact is I regard my life as rather a failure in the only thing in which I wanted it to succeed. I have not written the books I ought to have written and I have written a lot of books I should not have written. My life as lived by me has been interesting to me but to write truthfully about it would probably cause much pain to people close to me — and I always feel that the feelings of the living are more important than the monuments of the dead. Response to a would be biographer in 1980, as quoted in "When Stephen met Sylvia" in The Guardian (24 April 2004) http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,12084,1201328,00.html

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