- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Writing

Nathaniel Hawthorne on Life, Death, Truth, Happiness, and More.

 

Happy birthday, Nathaniel Hawthorne! Here are some quotes from the writer:

 

“I am a citizen of somewhere else.”

 

“Life is made up of marble and mud.”

 

“To the untrue man, the whole universe is false—it is impalpable—it shrinks to nothing within his grasp.”

 

“Is it a fact—or have I dreamt it—that, by means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time? Rather, the round globe is a vast head, a brain, instinct with intelligence!”

 

“A forced smile is uglier than a frown.”

 

“Accuracy is the twin brother of honesty; inaccuracy, of dishonesty.”

 

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

 

“It contributes greatly towards a man’s moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate.”

 

“Caresses, expressions of one sort or another, are necessary to the life of the affections as leaves are to the life of a tree. If they are wholly restrained, love will die at the roots.”

 

“Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.”

 

“Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”

 

“I do detest all offices—all, at least, that are held on a political tenure. And I want nothing to do with politicians. Their hearts wither away, and die out of their bodies.”

 

“Moonlight is sculpture; sunlight is painting.”

 

“Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important, in some respect, whether he chooses to be so or not.”

 

“The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.”

 

“Amid the seeming confusion of our mysterious world, individuals are so nicely adjusted to a system, and systems to one another and to a whole, that, by stepping aside for a moment, a man exposes himself to a fearful risk of losing his place forever.”

 

“What would a man do, if he were compelled to live always in the sultry heat of society, and could never bathe himself in cool solitude?”

 

“Nobody, I think, ought to read poetry, or look at pictures or statues, who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed.”

 

“Amid the seeming confusion of our mysterious world, individuals are so nicely adjusted to a system, and systems to one another and to a whole, that, by stepping aside for a moment, a man exposes himself to a fearful risk of losing his place forever.”

 

“As the moral gloom of the world overpowers all systematic gaiety, even so was their home of wild mirth made desolate amid the sad forest.”

 

“When the Artist rises high enough to achieve the Beautiful, the symbol by which he makes it perceptible to mortal senses becomes of little value in his eyes, while his spirit possesses itself in the enjoyment of the reality.”

 

“Alas that the artist…may not content himself with the inward enjoyment of the beautiful, but must chase the fitting mystery beyond the verge of his ethereal domain, and crush its frail being in seizing it with a material grasp.”

 

“A high truth, indeed, fairly, finely, and skillfully wrought out, brightening at every step, and crowning the final development of a work of fiction, may add an artistic glory, but is never any truer, and seldom any more evident, at the last page than at the first.”

 

“The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one’s self a fool; the truest heroism is, to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdom, to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed.”

 

“And, by the by, it is a very suspicious symptom of a deficiency of the popular element in a book when it calls forth no harsh criticism.”

 

“I have not lived, but only dreamed about living.”

 

“How slowly I have made my way in life! How much is still to be done!”

 

“Death should take me while I am in the mood.”

 

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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