As long as I live under the capitalistic system I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose the be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel. . . .
Too much happens.... Man performs, engenders, so much more than he can or should have to bear. That's how he finds that he can bear anything.... That's what's so terrible.
'Gettysburg.... You cant understand it. You would have to be born there.'
A writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid.
The end of wisdom is to dream high enough to lose the dream in the seeking of it.
Some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have got. Not for kudos and not for cash. Your picture in the paper nor money in the bank, neither. Just refuse to bear them.
'Why do you hate the South I dont hate it.... I dont hate it.... I dont hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark I dont. I dont I dont hate it I dont hate it '
I believe that man not merely endure he will prevail.
The Swiss are not a people so much as a neat, clean, quite solvent business
The last sound on the worthless earth will be two human beings trying to launch a homemade spaceship and already quarreling about where they are going next.
This is a free country. Folks have a right to send me letters, and I have a right not to read them.
Hollywood is a place where a man can get stabbed in the back while climbing a ladder.
A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
Man knows so little about his fellows. In his eyes all men or women act upon what he believes would motivate him if he were mad enough to do what that other man or woman is doing.
I don't know anything about inspiration because I don't know what inspiration is I've heard about it, but I never saw it.
If I had not existed, someone else would have written me, Hemingway, Dostoevski, all of us.
I'm a failed poet. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry first, finds he can't and then tries the short story which is the most demanding form after poetry. And failing at that, only then does he take up novel writing.
Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency to get the book written.
All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible.
A man's moral conscience is the curse he had to accept from the gods in order to gain from them the right to dream.
Mississippi begins in a lobby of a Memphis, Tennessee hotel and extends south to the Gulf of Mexico
Really the writer doesn't want success.... He knows he has a short span of life, that the day will come when he must pass through the wall of oblivion, and he wants to leave a scratch on that wall Kilroy was here that somebody a hundred, or a thousand years later will see.
The young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
People between twenty and forty are not sympathetic. The child has the capacity to do but it can't know. It only knows when it is no longer able to do -- after forty. Between twenty and forty the will of the child to do gets stronger, more dangerous, but it has not begun to learn to know yet. Since his capacity to do is forced into channels of evil through environment and pressures, man is strong before he is moral. The world's anguish is caused by people between twenty and forty.
The past is never dead. It's not even past.
I never promise a woman anything nor let her know what I'm going to give her. That's the only way to manage them. Always keep them guessing.
He had a word, too. Love, he called it. But I had been used to words for a long time. I knew that that word was like the others just a shape to fill a lack that when the right time came, you wouldn't need a word for that anymore than for pride or fear.
One of the saddest things is that the only thing that a man can do for eight hours a day, day after day, is work. You can't eat eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day nor make love for eight hours -- all you can do for eight hours is work. Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy.
Home again, his native land he was born of it and his bones will sleep in it . . .
I love Virginians because Virginians are all snobs and I like snobs. A snob has to spend so much time being a snob that he has little time left to meddle with you.
Leo Tolstoy - V. S. Naipaul - Salman Rushdie - Naguib Mahfouz - Mario Puzo - Louisa May Alcott - Elizabeth Gilbert - Boris Pasternak - Alexander Solzehnitsyn - Aldous Huxley