- We men have got love well weighed up; our stuff
Can get by without it.
Women don't seem to think that's good enough;
They write about it.
1922–95 English novelist and poet: ‘A Bookshop Idyll’ (1956)
- Literature's always a good card to play for Honours. It makes people think that Cabinet ministers are educated.
The Title (1918) 1867–1931 English novelist:
- Dr Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.
A Start in Life (1981) 1928– British novelist and art historian:
- A well-written Life is almost as rare as a well-spent one.
Critical and Miscellaneous Essays (1838) 1795–1881 Scottish historian and political philosopher:
- ‘What is the use of a book’, thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) 1832–98 English writer and logician:
- If my books had been any worse, I should not have been invited to Hollywood, and if they had been any better, I should not have come. 1888–1959 American writer: letter to Charles W. Morton, 12 December 1945
- When I want to read a novel, I write one.
Life of Benjamin Disraeli (1920) 1804–81 British Tory statesman and novelist: W. Monypenny and G. Buckle
listening to readings from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings:Oh fuck, not another elf!
C. S. Lewis (1990) 1896–1975 English academic: A. N. Wilson
- How rare, how precious is frivolity! How few writers can prostitute all their powers! They are always implying, ‘I am capable of higher things.’
Abinger Harvest (1936) 1879–1970 English novelist:
- What greater service could I have performed for German literature than that I didn't bother with it?
Friedrich der Grosse (1859) 1712–86 Prussian king: K. Biedermann
- He knew everything about literature except how to enjoy it.
Catch-22 (1961) 1923–99 American novelist:
- It's with bad sentiments that one makes good novels. 1894–1963 English novelist: letter, 10 July 1962
- It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature.
Hawthorne (1879) 1843–1916 American novelist:
- The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it.
Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) 1709–84 English poet, critic, and lexicographer: letter to Lord Chesterfield, 7 February 1755; James Boswell
- A beginning, a muddle, and an end.
on the ‘classic formula’ for a novel
New Fiction January 1978 1922–85 English poet: in
- Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children. Life is the other way round.
The British Museum is Falling Down (1965) 1935– English novelist:
- From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.
Dawn Ginsberg's Revenge 1890–1977 American film comedian: a blurb written for S. J. Perelman's 1928 book
- In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.
The Art of Living (1940) 1885–1967 French writer:
explaining to Queen Victoria why he did not wish to read Oliver Twist:It's all among workhouses and Coffin Makers and Pickpockets…I wish to avoid them.
The Victorians (2002) 1779–1848 British Whig statesman: A. N. Wilson
- I have only ever read one book in my life, and that is White Fang. It's so frightfully good I've never bothered to read another.
Uncle Matthew's view of literature
Love in a Cold Climate (1949) 1904–73 English writer:
- And I'll stay off Verlaine too; he was always chasing Rimbauds. 1893–1967 American critic and humorist: ‘The Little Hours’ (1939)
- If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.
1893–1967 American critic and humorist: ‘A Pig's-Eye View of Literature’ (1937)
- Nearly all our best men are dead! Carlyle, Tennyson, Browning, George Eliot!—I'm not feeling very well myself. 1841–1992 English humorous weekly periodical: vol. 104 (1893)
- I have known her pass the whole evening without mentioning a single book, or in fact anything unpleasant, at all.
A Very Great Man Indeed (1953) 1914–86 English poet and dramatist:
- Is Moby Dick the whale or the man?
The Years with Ross (1959) 1892–1951 American journalist and editor: James Thurber
- In view of her penchant
For something romantic,
De Sade is too trenchant
And Dickens too frantic,
And Stendhal would ruin
The plan of attack
As there isn't much blue in
The Red and the Black.
1930– American songwriter: ‘Now’ (1972)
- You're familiar with the tragedies of antiquity, are you? The great homicidal classics?
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1967) 1937– British dramatist:
- Like playing Beethoven on the kazoo.
on his translation of Shakespeare into text messages
Mail on Sunday 20 November 2005 1938– English writer: in