Sunday, 13 November 2011

1200 Literary Quotes

My Some Literary Criticism quotes page now has 1200 entries. Here's a selection

  • "You know I can't stand Shakespeare's plays, but yours are even worse", Tolstoy (to Chekhov)
  • "poetry gets to be the poetry of life by successfully becoming first the poetry of poetry", Hollander
  • "I am convinced that most readers, when they think they are admiring poetry, are deceived by inability to analyse their sensations, and that they are really admiring, not the poetry of the passage before them, but something else in it, which they like better than poetry", A.E. Housman
  • "What I like most about Eliot is that though one of his hearts, the poetic one, has died and been given a separate funeral ... he continues to visit the grave", Graves
  • "[poetry is news] brought to the mountains by a unicorn and an echo", Milosz
  • "the great changes in literature are non-literary in origin; and the same causes that produce the new work produce, in time, its audience. Wordsworth's poems did not produce Wordsworthians", Jarrell
  • "as civilisation advances, poetry almost necessarily declines", Macaulay
  • "a bad poem is one that vanishes into meaning", Valery
  • "to write a poem is to find a way from exile into pilgrimage", Gunn?
  • "Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth", Larkin
  • "Form is a straitjacket in the way that a straitjacket was a straitjacket for Houdini", Paul Muldoon
  • "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
  • "[Plath] was always a posthumous person, but it took her years to acquire a posthumous style", Helen Vendler
  • "We read according to an undeclared handicap system, to the specific needs of the author. We meet the novelists a little way, the poets at least halfway, the translated poets three-quarters of the way; the Postmoderns we pick up at the station in their wheelchairs.", Don Paterson
  • "magician and trickster are the 2 positions left once language slides from the world. The magician seeks to reconsile language and reality, the trickster accepts the rupture and exploits the resulting possibilities" - Adorno?
  • "Listen carefully to first criticisms of your work. Note carefully just what it is about your work that the critics don't like - then cultivate it. That's the part of your work that's individual and worth keeping", Jean Cocteau
  • "Gay men growing up in the mid-century in Scotland necessarily found tricks of concealment, and the 'avant-garde' offered an environment in which creativity could be engaged in without too much awkward self-revelation and without having to decide exactly how serious one was about what one was writing", D.M.Black
  • "The twentieth-century avant-garde liked to embrace boredom as a way of getting round what is considered to be the vapid 'excitement' of popular culture", Kenneth Goldsmith
  • "many poets of the following generation - the fourth after Lowell - who write nonmetered poetry no longer seem to have the example of metered verse within the ear, with the result that many of their lines appear flaccid and lack any apparent reason why a line is broken this way rather than that. Their lines often read like prose", Stephen Dobyns
  • "[Baudelaire's L'Héautontimorouménos] was long seen to be a sexual sadomasochistic poem ... it is now generally accepted that the poem is about writing poetry", Stephen Dobyns

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