I can't listen to music too often. It makes you want to say stupid, nice things. Said Lenin.
Living in a single attic room at The Hague for the last seven years before his death at forty-four, Spinoza was known to sometimes go as long as three months without once stepping out of doors.
Nothing preposterous can ever be said that hasn't already been said by one of the philosophers. Said Cicero.
How many things there are in this world that I do not want. Said Socrates, strolling through a marketplace in Athens.
Melville, late along, possessed no copies of his own books.
Very great is the number of the stupid. Said Galileo.
Rank vegetable growth, Rebecca West called the sentences of Henry James. One feels that if one took cutting of them one could raise a library in the garden.
O, what a number of lies this young man has told about me. Said Socrates, the first time he heard Plato read one of his dialogues. Says a legend recorded by Diogenes Laertius.
The only writing I've ever been jealous of. Said Woolf of Mansfield.
Keep apart, keep apart and preserve one's soul alive - that is the teaching of the day. It is ill to have been born in these times, but one can make a world within a world. Wrote George Gissing.
As if written illegally, under fear of the police. Bertold Brecht said of Kafka's fiction.
In a letter from Florence Hardy, mentioning that her husband is at his desk: Writing an intensely dismal poem with great spirits.
A Wayward Nun, Dickinson called herself.
I like a view but I like to sit with my back to it. Said Gertrude Stein.
Copies of all the now long lost plays of Sophocles and Euripides still existed at Constantinople until 1203. When the city's churches and libraries were indiscriminately ravaged and torched by the abortive Fourth Crusade.
The value of a classical education, according to a mid nineteenth-century dean of Christ Church, Oxford, one Thomas Gaisford: That it enables us to look down with contempt on those who have no shared its advantages.
We have to believe in free will. We've got no choice. Said Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Byron, briefly, on Southey: Twaddle. On Wordsworth: Drivel. On Keats: Flay him alive.
There's nothing to say that hasn't been said before.
We say nothing but what has been said; the composition and method is ours only. Says Burton in the Enuuch.
Mendelssohn on Liszt: Few brains.
One should always read with a pen in one's hand. Says Delacroix in the Journals.
Tchaivoksky, leaving Bayreuth after the first full four-day performance of The Ring: As if I'd been let out of prison.
[Dostoevsky], while writing The Idiot. They demand from me artistic finish, the purity of poetry, and they point to Turgenev and Goncharov. Let them take a look at the conditions under which I work.
Tolstoy, in his diary, on George Bernard Shaw: His trviliality is astounding.
The world as perceived by Rimbaud: Full of grocers.
God does not inhabit healthy bodies. Said Saint Hildegard of Bingen.
Pound on Milton: Disgusting, coarse-minded, asinine. On Dryden: A lunkhead.
When Chagall paints you do not know if he is asleep or awake. Somewhere or other inside his head there must be an angel.
Lawrence Sterne's love letters to his mistress: Which he sometimes copied word for word from letters he had earlier written his wife.
A latrine, Baudelaire called George Sand.
Diogenes, explaining why people give to beggars, but not to philosophers: Because they think it possible that they themselves might become lame and blind, but they do not expect to turn out philosophers.
Dante tires one quickly. It is like looking at the sun. Said Joyce.
A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand. Said Russell.
Woolf: I have the feeling that I shall go mad. I hear voices and cannot concentrate on my work. I have fought against it, but cannot fight any longer.
Putridity and corruption. Said Kierkegaard re [Hegel's lectures, published version].
According to his own wish, Liszt's funeral was conducted without music.
All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story. Said Isak Dinesen.
I left my capacity for hoping on the little roads that led to Zelda's sanatoriums. Said Scott.
My memory and intellect have gone to wait for me elsewhere. Wrote Michaelangelo to Vasari at eighty-three.
David Markson, Vanishing Point