x
Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.
John le Carré, The Chancellor Who Agreed To Play Spy
x
For Leda's sons rotated life and death,
Each taking turns to draw reviving breath.
Martial, Martial's Epigrams
nobilis haec esset pietatis rixa duobus,
quod pro fratre mori uellet uterque prior,
diceret infernas et qui prior isset ad umbras:
'Viue tuo, frater, tempore, uiue meo.'
Martialis, Epigrammaton Libri
x
All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Все счастливые семьи похожи друг на друга, каждая несчастливая семья несчастлива по-своему.
Лев Никола́евич Толсто́й, Анна Каренина
x
Distrust everything,
If you have to,
But trust the hours
Haven't they carried you,
Everywhere till now?
Galway Kinnell, Wait
x
Then he expired; and as you see me here,
So did I those other three sink down
Between the fifth and sixth days, one by one;
Then, though already blind, I felt them over
And for two days called their names, though
Until my grief was overcome by hunger.

Dante Alighiero, Inferno
Quivi morì; e come tu mi vedi,
vid’ io cascar li tre ad uno ad uno
tra ’l quinto dì e ’l sesto; ond’ io mi diedi,

già cieco, a brancolar sovra ciascuno,
e due dì li chiamai, poi che fur morti.
Poscia, più che ’l dolor, poté ’l digiuno.
Dante Alighiero, Inferno
x
A strange thing happened to me in my dream. I was rapt into the Seventh Heaven. There sat all the gods assembled. As a special dispensation I was granted the favor to have one wish. "Do you wish for youth," said Mercury, "or for beauty, or power, or a long life; or do you wish for the most beautiful woman, or any other of the many fine things we have in our treasure trove? Choose, but only one thing!" For a moment I was at a loss. Then I addressed the gods in this wise: "Most honorable contemporaries, I choose one thing — that I may always have the laughs on my side." Not one god made answer, but all began to laugh. From this I concluded that my wish had been granted and thought that the gods knew how to express themselves with good taste: for it would surely have been inappropriate to answer gravely: your wish has been granted.
Søren Kierkegaard, Diapsalmata
x
'Of course one does meet brilliant men,' said Nikolay Nikolayevich, 'but they are isolated. The fashion nowadays is all for groups and societies of every sort. It is always a sign of mediocrity in people when they herd together, whether their group loyalty is to Solovyev or to Kant or Marx. The truth is only sought by individuals, and they break with those who do not love it enough. How many things in the world deserve our loyalty? Very few indeed. I think one should be loyal to immortality, which is another word for life, a stronger word for it.'
Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago
?
Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к, До́ктор Жива́го
x
Once, once I had a taste for living far from men, but now the Rains...
St. John Perse, Rains
J'avais, j'avais ce goût de vivre loin des hommes, et voici que les Pluies ...
St. John Perse, Pluies
x
If by good luck there had been an ash-tray handy, if one had not knocked the ash out of the window in default, if things had been a little different from what they were, one would not have seen, presumably, a cat without a tail.
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
x
There was a Door to which I found no Key:
There was a Veil past which I could not see:
Some little Talk awhile of Me and Thee
There seem'd- and then no more of
Thee and Me.
Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat XXXII
?
Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat XXXII
x
For one people to exaggerate the inhumanity of another race that has persecuted them - well, anyone can understand that. But when the persecuted people develop a resemblance to the persecutor, that strikes me as an almost superhuman challenge to the rest of the world. What is called for is either an almost impossible heroism or a tolerance of all too human nature.
Which is it? Sublime challenge or spinelessness?
Jean Genet, Prisoner of Love
?
Jean Genet, Un Captif Amoureux
x
We live for free, we do;
The air is free, the cloud is free;
Hills and mountains are free;
The rain, the mud, free,
The outsides of automobiles,
Doors of cinemas,
Shop windows are free;
Cheese and bread may not be so, but
Bitter water is free;
Freedom costs a neck,
Slavery is free,
We live for free, we do.
Orhan Veli Kanık, For Free
Bedava yaşıyoruz, bedava;
Hava bedava, bulut bedava;
Dere tepe bedava;
Yağmur çamur bedava;
Otomobillerin dışı,
Sinemaların kapısı,
Camekanlar bedava;
Peynir ekmek değil ama
Acı su bedava;
Kelle fiyatına hürriyet,
Esirlik bedava;
Bedava yaşıyoruz, bedava.
Orhan Veli Kanık, Bedava
x
So they took me to the hospital
They put my body through a scan
What they saw there would impress them all
For inside me grows a man
Who speaks with perfect diction
As he orders my eviction
As he acts with more conviction
Than I
Andrew Bird, Masterswarm
x
The room betrayed the mother—so she felt—
She kissed her boy and questioned "Are you here?"
Rainer Maria Rilke, Memories of a Childhood
Sie fühlte, wie das Zimmer sie verriet,
und küßte ihren Knaben: Bist du hier?
Rainer Maria Rilke, Memories of a Childhood
x
“I arrived here in my first youth, one morning, many people were hurrying along the streets toward the market, the women had fine teeth and looked you straight in the eye...”
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
“Vi arrivai nella prima giovinezza, una mattina, molta gente andava svelta per le vie verso il mercato, le donne avevano bei denti e guardavano dritto negli occhi...”
Italo Calvino, Le Città Invisibili
x
This said, it is pointless trying to decide whether Zenobia is to be classified among happy cities or among the unhappy. It makes no sense to divide cities into these two species, but rather into another two: those that through the years and the changes continue to give their form to desires, and those in which desires either erase the city or are erased by it.
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Detto questo, è inutile stabilire se Zenobia sia da classificare tra le città felici o tra quelle infelici. Non e in queste due specie che ha senso dividere la città, ma in altre due: quelle che continuano attraverso gli anni e le mutazioni a dare la loro forma ai desideri e quelle in cui i desideri o riescono a cancellare la città o ne sono cancellati.
Italo Calvino, Le Città Invisibili
x
If you lack the proper chemicals to know how the way it felt the last time you let yourself fall this low.
Andrew Bird, Armchairs
x
That among other things. The Venerable Peter, abbot of Cluny, in order to study the Koran better, decided to have it 'translated'. Not only did he forget that in passing from one language to another the holy text could only convey what can be expressed just as easily in any tongue - that is everything except that which is holy; but was probably actually motivated by a secret desire to betray. (This may manifest itself in a sort of stationary dance, rather like the desire to pee.)
Jean Genet, Prisoner of Love
?
Jean Genet, Un Captif Amoureux
x
swings that rest in mid-air because you dont weigh anything
Marta Sui Tubi, Because You Don't Weigh Anything
altelene che restano ferme a metà, perché non pesi niente
Marta Sui Tubi, Perché Non Pesi Niente
x
In Europe people talk only in figures. In Le Monde on 31 October 1985 there are three pages of financial news. The fedayeen didn't even count their dead.
Jean Genet, Prisoner of Love
?
Jean Genet, Un Captif Amoureux
x
And it happened long ago
These things, these things
That make me walk so darn slow
Andrew Bird, Headsoak
x
So don't believe a thing that you might hear
At least from the last thirty-forty years
Cause it wasn't long ago just before the reign of Nero
We had no concept of zero.
Andrew Bird, Beware
x
So it goes.
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
x
From the earth, from the air, sustaining forces pour into us - mostly from the earth. To no man does the earth mean so much as to the soldier. When he presses himself down upon her long and powerfully, when he buries his face and his limbs deep in her from the fear of death by shell-fire, then she is his only friend, his brother, his mother; he stifles his terror and his cries in her silence and her security; she shelters him and releases him for ten seconds to live, to run, ten seconds of life; receives him again and often for ever.
Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front
?
Erich Maria Remarque, Im Westen nichts Neues
x
Time is a tease - because everything has to happen in its own time.
André Breton, Nadja
?
André Breton, Nadja
x
I thought: "Perhaps Adelma is the city where you arrive dying and where each finds again the people he has known. This means I, too, am dead." And I also thought: "This means the beyond is not happy."
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Pensai: “Forse Adelma è la città cui si arriva morendo e in cui ognuno ritrova le persone che ha conosciuto. È segno che sono morto anch’io”. Pensai anche: “È segno che l’aldilà non è felice “.
Italo Calvino, Le Città Invisibili
x
For the others, we can say that Muad'Dib learned rapidly because his first training was in how to learn. And the first lesson of all was the basic trust that he could learn. It is shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult. Muad'Dib knew that every experience carries its lesson.
Frank Herbert, Dune
x
I was in a peculiar situation - no one left to borrow from, yet I still had to live and smoke.
Vladimir Nabokov, The Eye
x
-Sss. So. As the challenged, I choose the battlefield. I assert reality. Very well, I have the first move... I am a dire worlf, prey-stalking, lethal prowler.
-My move. I am a hunter, horse mounted, wolf-stabbing.
-I am a horsefly, horse-stinging, hunter-throwing.
There are many ways to lose the oldest game. Faliure of nerve, hesitation... Being unable to shift into a defensive shape. Lack of imagination
-I am a spider, fly-consuming, eight legged.
-I am a snake, spider-devouring, poison toothed.
-I am an ox, snake-crushing, heavy footed. I feel the snake writhe beneath, my hoof, its spine crushed.
-I am an anthrax, butcher bacterium, warm-life destroying.
A change in direction but still an old gambit. I think... I think I understand how Chronozon plays. How I can turn it against him. I think I will abandon the offensive. "I am a world, space floating, life nurturing."
-I am a nova, all-exploding... planet cremating.
-I am the universe - all things encompassing, all life embracing.
I am anti-life, the beast of judgment, I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, goods, worlds... of everything. Sss. And what will you be then Dreamlord?
-I am hope.
Neil Gaiman, The Absolute Sandman
x
I discover the beautiful as it is arranged in space but not in time. And music? When one sound follows another, I discover here a certain system of the particular, I do not apprehend one sound as coming after another, but in the last sound, the sound I just heard, I discover the previous ones. This is not the same as joining the moments borne by time.
Yakov Druskin, Death
?
Yakov Druskin, Death
x
And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press,
End in Nothing all Things end in -Yes-
Then fancy while Thou art, Thou art
but what
Thou shalt be -Nothing- Though shalt not
be less.
Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat XLVII
?
Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat XLVII
x
Collapse upon the forest floor and down upon your knees
Anthurium Lacrimae decays underneath the canopies
Like a natural disaster
It's the one that keeps happening over and over and over again.
Andrew Bird, Natural Disaster

Literary Orgasms

LE CARRÉ
MARTIAL
TOLSTOY
KINNEL
DANTE
KIERKEGAARD
PASTERNAK
PERSE
WOOLF
KHAYYAM
GENET
KANIK
BIRD
RILKE
CALVINO
CALVINO
BIRD
GENET
MARTA SUI TUBI
GENET
BIRD
BIRD
VONNEGUT
REMARQUE
BRETON
CALVINO
HERBERT
NABOKOV
GAIMAN
DRUSKIN
KHAYYAM
BIRD