„The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis, and we'd have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.“

—  William Styron, Writers at Work (1958)
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William Styron1
1925 - 2006
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„I was completely bowled over by this, not having been able to explain how Whitman came to write “Song of Myself,” which is unlike anything not only in American literature, but unique in all the world. The parallels to it are mystical literature.“

—  Karl Shapiro Poet, essayist 1913 - 2000
Context: Whitman to me is the most fascinating of American poets. Whitman started to write the great poetry from scratch after he had written all that junk for newspapers, the sentimental lyrical poems. All of a sudden he wrote Leaves of Grass. When I was teaching at the University of Nebraska, my friend James Miller was chairman of the English Department. He wrote the first book attempting to make a parallel between the structure of Leaves of Grass and the steps of the mystical experience as in St. John of the Cross. I was completely bowled over by this, not having been able to explain how Whitman came to write “Song of Myself,” which is unlike anything not only in American literature, but unique in all the world. The parallels to it are mystical literature. Miller tried to show that there was actual evidence for this kind of experience, which evidently happens at a particular moment in someone’s life. … When I saw the negative reaction to Whitman with the great ruling critics of the time, I couldn’t believe it. Eliot never really gave up hammering away on Whitman, neither did Pound. Although Pound makes little concessions. Whitman, you know, didn’t have any influence in this country until Allen Ginsberg came along.

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„Each moment of the happy lover's hour is worth an age of dull and common life.“

—  Aphra Behn British playwright, poet, translator and fiction writer 1640 - 1689
The Younger Brother, Act III, sc. ii (published posthumously 1696).

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„Boileau said that Kings, Gods and Heroes only were fit subjects for literature. The writer can only write about what he admires.“

—  John Steinbeck American writer 1902 - 1968
Context: Boileau said that Kings, Gods and Heroes only were fit subjects for literature. The writer can only write about what he admires. Present-day kings aren't very inspiring, the gods are on a vacation and about the only heroes left are the scientists and the poor … And since our race admires gallantry, the writer will deal with it where he finds it. He finds it in the struggling poor now. Radio interview (1939) quoted in Introduction by Robert DeMott to a 1992 edition of The Grapes of Wrath

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„It has not been in vain: the good, the enlightened of all ages and nations have found pleasure and consolation in the beauty of the rural earth.“

—  Thomas Cole American artist 1801 - 1848
Context: It has not been in vain: the good, the enlightened of all ages and nations have found pleasure and consolation in the beauty of the rural earth. Prophets of old retired into the solitudes of nature to wait the inspiration of heaven. It was upon Mount Horeb that Elijah experienced the mighty wind, the earthquake, and the fire; and, heard the small still voice. That voice is yet heard among the mountains! Essay on American Scenery in American Monthly Magazine (January 1836)

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„Writing is all a lottery -- I have been a loser by the works of the greatest men of the age.“

—  Tobias Smollett 18th-century poet and author from Scotland 1721 - 1771
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771).

William Styron photo

„Writers ever since writing began have had problems, and the main problem narrows down to just one word — life. Certainly this might be an age of so-called faithlessness and despair we live in, but the new writers haven’t cornered any market on faithlessness and despair, any more than Dostoyevsky or Marlowe or Sophocles did.“

—  William Styron American novelist and essayist 1925 - 2006
Context: Writers ever since writing began have had problems, and the main problem narrows down to just one word — life. Certainly this might be an age of so-called faithlessness and despair we live in, but the new writers haven’t cornered any market on faithlessness and despair, any more than Dostoyevsky or Marlowe or Sophocles did. Every age has its terrible aches and pains, its peculiar new horrors, and every writer since the beginning of time, just like other people, has been afflicted by what that same friend of mine calls “the fleas of life”—you know, colds, hangovers, bills, sprained ankles, and little nuisances of one sort or another. They are the constants of life, at the core of life, along with nice little delights that come along every now and then. The Paris Review (Spring 1954) http://theparisreview.org/viewinterview.php/prmMID/5114 <!-- This has been appeared in a paraphrased version: Every writer since the beginning of time, just like other people, has been afflicted by what a friend of mine calls "the fleas of life" — you know, colds, hangovers, bills, sprained ankles and little nuisances of one sort or another. -->

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„Any literature, when it arrives at being good literature, transcends genre.“

—  Vanna Bonta Italian-American writer, poet, inventor, actress, voice artist (1958-2014) 1958 - 2014

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