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date: 28 February 2020

Literature and Society 

  1. Nothing I wrote in the thirties saved one Jew from Auschwitz.
    W. H. Auden 1907–73 English poet: attributed
  2. The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one…If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the Ode on a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies.
    William Faulkner 1897–1962 American novelist: in Paris Review Spring 1956
  3. I am convinced more and more day by day that fine writing is next to fine doing the top thing in the world.
    John Keats 1795–1821 English poet: letter to J. H. Reynolds, 24 August 1819
  4. I've used my talents as a writer to enable the Ogoni people to confront their tormentors. I was not able to do it as a politician or a businessman. My writing did it…I think I have the moral victory.
    Ken Saro-Wiwa 1941–95 Nigerian writer and environmentalist: letter, shortly before his execution in 1995, to William Boyd
  5. A writer must refuse, therefore, to allow himself to be transformed into an institution.
    Jean-Paul Sartre 1905–80 French philosopher, novelist, dramatist, and critic: refusing the Nobel Prize at Stockholm, 22 October 1964; in M. Contat and M. Rybalka (eds.) Les Écrits de Sartre (1970)
  6. For a country to have a great writer…is like having another government. That's why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn 1918–2008 Russian novelist: The First Circle (1968) ch. 57, tr. M. Guybon
  7. There are various forms of production: artillery, automobiles, lorries. You also produce ‘commodities’, ‘works’, ‘products’. Such things are highly necessary. Engineering things. For people's souls. ‘Products’ are highly necessary too. ‘Products’ are very important for people's souls. You are engineers of human souls.
    Joseph Stalin 1879–1953 Soviet dictator: speech to writers at Gorky's house, 26 October 1932; see Gorky, Kennedy
  8. describing the question all interviewers ask him, and his answer:
    ‘Why do you write these strong female characters?’ ‘Because you're still asking me that question’.
    Joss Whedon 1964–  American screenwriter: accepting an award from Equality Now, 15 May 2006
  9. Did that play of mine send out
    Certain men the English shot?
    W. B. Yeats 1865–1939 Irish poet: ‘The Man and the Echo’ (1939)