Happy birthday, Charles Dickens! Here are some quotes from his writing.
“I am quite serious when I say that I do not believe there are, on the whole earth besides, so many intensified bores as in these United States. No man can form an adequate idea of the real meaning of the word, without coming here.”
—as quoted in Dickens (1949)
“Wherever religion is resorted to as a strong drink, and as an escape from the dull, monotonous round of home, those of its ministers who pepper the highest will be the surest to please. They who strew the Eternal Path with the greatest amount of brimstone, and who most ruthlessly tread down the flowers and leaves that grow by the wayside, will be voted the most righteous; and they who enlarge with the greatest pertinacity on the difficulty of getting into heaven will be considered, by all true believers, certain of going there: though it would be hard to say by what process of reasoning this conclusion is arrived at.”
“I used to sit, think, think, thinking, till I felt as lonesome as a kitten in a wash–house copper with the lid on.”
“Fan the sinking flame of hilarity with the wing of friendship; and pass the rosy wine.”
“But nothing is to be attained without striving. In a determined effort to settle the thoughts, to parcel out the day, to find occupation regularly or to make it, to be up and doing something, are chiefly to be found the mere mechanical means which must come to the aid of the best mental efforts.”
“The disturbed mind and affections, like the tossed sea, seldom calm without an intervening time of confusion and trouble.”
“An idea, like a ghost…must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.”
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
“Never close your lips to those to whom you have opened your heart.”
“Vices are sometimes only virtues carried to excess!”
“I must be taken as I have been made. The success is not mine, the failure is not mine, but the two together make me.”
John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.