- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.”

 

Happy birthday, Edith Wharton! Here are some quotes from the writer:

 

“Some things are best mended by a break.”

 

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time.”

 

“Ah, good conversation—there’s nothing like it, is there? The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing.”

 

“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”

 

“There’s no such thing as old age; there is only sorrow.”

 

“[I]t is the habit of having habits, of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive.”

 

“Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.”

 

“Beware of monotony; it’s the mother of all the deadly sins.”

 

“No insect hangs its nest on threads as frail as those which will sustain the weight of human vanity.”

 

“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.”

 

“After all, one knows one’s weak points so well, that it’s rather bewildering to have the critics overlook them and invent others that (one is fairly sure) don’t exist—or exist in a less measure.”

 

“There is one friend in the life of each of us who seems not a separate person, however dear and beloved, but an expansion, an interpretation, of one’s self, the very meaning of one’s soul.”

 

“I have never known a novel that was good enough to be good in spite of its being adapted to the author’s political views.”

 

“Every dawning talent has to go through a phase of imitation and subjection to influences, and the great object of the young writer should be not to fear those influences, but to seek only the greatest, and to assimilate them so they become [her] stock-in-trade.”

 

“There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there’s only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a fairly good time.”

 

“The only way not to think about money is to have a great deal of it.”

 

“No insect hangs its nest on threads as frail as those which will sustain the weight of human vanity.”

 

“It was easy enough to despise the world, but decidedly difficult to find any other habitable region.”

 

“How much longer are we going to think it necessary to be ‘American’ before…being cultivated, being enlightened, being humane, and having the same intellectual discipline as other civilized countries?”

 

“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”

 

“Life is the only real counselor; wisdom unfiltered through personal experience does not become a part of the moral tissue. True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.”

 

“Habit is necessary; it is the habit of having habits, of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive.”

 

“The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend!”

 

“The real marriage of true minds is for any two people to possess a sense of humor or irony pitched in exactly the same key, so that their joint glances on any subject cross like interarching searchlights.”

 

“At last I had groped my way through to my vocation, and thereafter I never questioned that story-telling was my job…I felt like some homeless waif who, after trying for years to take out naturalization papers, and being rejected by every country, has finally acquired a nationality. The Land of Letters was henceforth to be my country and I gloried in my new citizenship.”

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found 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, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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