Saturday, 10 April 2010

1000 literary quotes

My collection of Literary Quotes now has over 1000 entries. I don't agree with all the entries, or even understand them. They're more for literature students than creative writers, though I find them stimulating for poetry as well as articles. An earlier version was found on Michael Donaghy's laptop after his death. Here are some items that caught my eye when browsing through.

  • In a truly beautiful work of art the content should do nothing, the form everything, Schiller
  • Form is a straitjacket in the way that a straitjacket was a straitjacket for Houdini, Paul Muldoon
  • I'm being somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but only somewhat when I say that a poem is the city of language just as prose is its countryside. Prose extends laterally filling the page's horizon unimpeded, while poetry is marked by dense verticality, by layerings of meaning and sound. Cities and poetry also share compression, heterogeneity, juxtaposition, Cole Swensen
  • We speak of understanding a sentence in the sense in which it can be replaced by another which says the same; but also in the sense in which it cannot be replaced by any other, Wittgenstein
  • [Beauty is truth, truth beauty] strikes me as a serious blemish on a beautiful poem, and the reason must be either that I fail to understand it, or that it is a statement which is untrue. And I suppose that Keats meant something by it, however remote his truth and his beauty may have been from these words in ordinary use. ... The statement of Keats seems to me meaningless: or perhaps the fact that it is grammatically meaningless conceals another meaning from me, T.S. Eliot
  • Like thatching or clog dancing, literary criticism seems to be something of a dying art, Terry Eagleton
  • What the theorists of modernism and postmodernism have done is to encourage poetry that needs justification, critical props, excuses for the wilfulness of self-indulgent individuals - as if most needed any further excuse, Peter Forbes
  • He is this afternoon writing a poem with great spirit: always a sign of well being with him. Needless to say, it is an intensely dismal poem, Florence Hardy

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