A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us.
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- Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.
- There’s only one good test of pornography. Get twelve normal men to read the book, and then ask them, Did you get an erection? If the answer is Yes from a majority of the twelve, then the book is pornographic.
- If music in general is an imitation of history, opera in particular is an imitation of human willfulness; it is rooted in the fact that we not only have feelings but insist upon having them at whatever cost to ourselves. The quality common to all the great operatic roles, e.g., Don Giovanni, Norma, Lucia, Tristan, Isolde, Br?nnhilde, is that each of them is a passionate and willful state of being. In real life they would all be bores, even Don Giovanni.
- Literary confessors are contemptible, like beggars who exhibit their sores for money, but not so contemptible as the public that buys their books.
- No poet or novelist wishes he were the only one who ever lived, but most of them wish they were the only one alive, and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted.
- A tremendous number of people in America work very hard at something that bores them. Even a rich man thinks he has to go down to the office everyday. Not because he likes it but because he can’t think of anything else to do.