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"This is the stuff we're made of, half indifference and half malice."

Jose Saramago in Blindness

"We - as readers or writers, tellers or listeners - understand each other, we share knowledge of the structures of our myths, we comprehend the logic of symbols, largely because we have access to the same swirl of story. We have only to reach out into the air and pluck a piece of it."

Thomas C. Foster in How to Read Literature Like a Professor

"When you choose one way out of many, all the ways you don't take are snuffed out like candles, as if they'd never existed. At the moment all Will's choices existed at once. But to keep them all in existence meant doing nothing. He had to choose, after all."

Phillip Pullman in The Amber Spyglass

"[P]ride - the vice of the lowest and most debased creatures no less than of the high and self-assured. The miserable companion of thieves and ruffians, the fallen outcast of low haunts, the associate of the scourings of the jails and hulks, living within the shadow of the gallows itself."

Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist

"Death (or its allusion) makes men precious and pathetic."

Jorge Luis Borges in Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings

"'The ideal reasoner,' he remarked, 'would, when he had once been shown a single fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all the chain of events which led up to it but also all the results which would follow from it.'"

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

"It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all."

Joseph Heller in Catch-22

"What a lousy earth! He wondered how many people were destitute that same night even in his own prosperous country, how many homes were shanties, how many husbands were drunk and wives socked, and how many children were bullied, abused, or abandoned. How many families hungered for food they could not afford to buy? How many hearts were broken? How many suicides would take place that same night, how many people would go insane? How many cockroaches and landlords would triumph? How many winners were losers, successes failures, and rich men poor men? How many wise guys were stupid? How many happy endings were unhappy endings? How many honest men were liars, brave men cowards, loyal men traitors, how many sainted men were corrupt, how many people in positions of trust had sold their souls to bodyguards, how many had never had souls? How many straight-and-narrow paths were crooked paths? How many best families were worst families and how many good people were bad people? When you added them all up and then subtracted, you might be left with only the children, and perhaps with Albert Einstein and an old violinist or sculptor somewhere."

Joseph Heller in Catch-22

"'The theories say that, do they?' replied the Professor in the tone of a meek disciple. 'Oh! unpleasant theories! How the theories will hinder us, won't they?"

Jules Verne in A Journey to the Interior of the Earth

"[T]here are only so many absurd promises you can make to a horse."

David Tallerman in Giant Thief

"'A gentleman never works magic against a woman, particularly his own mama.' Gentlemen, it seemed to Christopher, made things unreasonably difficult for themselves in that case."

Diana Wynne Jones in The Lives of Christopher Chant

"'Women are terrifying,' said Yojirō."

Natsume Soseki in Sanshirō

"'Kate,' she said after a moment, 'stories never really end. They can go on and on and on. It's just that sometimes, at a certain point, one stops telling them."

Mary Norton in The Borrowers

"There he was. The infant Titus. His eyes were open but he was quite still. The puckered-up face of the newly-born child, old as the world, wise as the roots of trees."

Mervyn Peake in Titus Groan

"Seconds are so small. One – two – three – four – seconds are so huge."

Mervyn Peake in Gormenghast

"Sweet and dear friend, I have come a long way from the quay at Langton, and the vision of the Dwarf, the Maid, and the Lady; and for this kiss wherewith I have kissed thee e’en now, and the kindness of thine eyes, it was worth the time and the travail."

William Morris in Wood Beyond the World

"Dear friend, dost thou speak to me thus mournfully to move me to love thee better?  Then is thy labour lost; for no better may I love thee than now I do; and that is with mine whole heart."

William Morris in Wood Beyond the World

"'Does pain go away and leave no trace, then?'
'You sometimes even feel sentimental for it.'"

Yasunari Kawabata in Thousand Cranes

"'You've always been fond of understanding people too well.'
'They should arrange not to be understood quite so easily.'"

Yasunari Kawabata in Thousand Cranes

"The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable infliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us."

Herman Melville in Moby-Dick

"But wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt the sea as a merchant sailor, I should now take it into my head to go on a whaling voyage; this the invisible police officer of the Fates, who has the constant surveillance of me, and secretly dogs me, and influences me in some unaccountable way—he can better answer than any one else. And, doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage, formed part of the grand programme of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago. It came in as a sort of brief interlude and solo between more extensive performances. I take it that this part of the bill must have run something like this: "GRAND CONTESTED ELECTION FOR THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES. "WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMAEL. "BLOODY BATTLE IN AFFGHANISTAN.""

Herman Melville in Moby-Dick

"Huge hills and mountains of casks on casks were piled upon her wharves, and side by side the world-wandering whale ships lay silent and safely moored at last; while from others came a sound of carpenters and coopers, with blended noises of fires and forges to melt the pitch, all betokening that new cruises were on the start; that one most perilous and long voyage ended, only begins a second; and a second ended, only begins a third, and so on, for ever and for aye. Such is the endlessness, yea, the intolerableness of all earthly effort."

Herman Melville in Moby-Dick

"In one word, Queequeg, said I, rather digressively; hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple-dumpling; and since then perpetuated through the hereditary dyspepsias nurtured by Ramadans."

Herman Melville in Moby-Dick

"But when a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his suspicions even from himself."

Herman Melville in Moby-Dick

"'Hark ye yet again—the little lower layer. All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event—in the living act, the undoubted deed—there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there's naught beyond. But 'tis enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him.'"

Herman Melville in Moby-Dick

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