"They actually like it if a work of literature is a little wicked, especially in the middle; only the sense of propriety must not be offended outright, and finally, everything must have a happy ending."
"German writings attain popularity through a great name, or through personalities, or through good connections, or through effort, or through moderate immorality, or through accomplished incomprehensibility, or through harmonious platitude, or through versatile boredom, or through constant striving after the absolute."
"The following are the universally fundamental laws of literary communication: 1. one must have something to communicate; 2. one must have someone to whom to communicate it; 3. one must really communicate it, not merely express it for oneself alone. Otherwise it would be more to the point to remain silent."
"To me, literature is a calling, even a kind of salvation. It connects me with an enterprise that is over 2,000 years old. What do we have from the past? Art and thought. That's what lasts. That's what continues to feed people and given them an idea of something better. A better state of one's feelings or simply the idea of a silence in one's self that allows one to think or to feel. Which to me is the same."
"The ratio of authentic literature to trash in pornography may be somewhat lower than the ratio of novels of genuine literary merit to the entire volume of sub-literary fiction produced for mass taste. But it is probably not lower than, for instance, that of another somewhat shady sub-genre with a few first-rate books to its credit, science fiction."
"No one is ahead of his time, it is only that the particular variety of creating his time is the one that his contemporaries who are also creating their own time refuse to accept.... For a very long time everybody refuses and then almost without a pause almost everybody accepts. In the history of the refused in the arts and literature the rapidity of the change is always startling."
"The truth is that literature, particularly fiction, is not the pure medium we sometimes assume it to be. Response to it is affected by things other than its own intrinsic quality; by a curiosity or lack of it about the people it deals with, their outlook, their way of life."
"I do wish that as long as they are translating the thing, they would go right on ahead, while they're at it, and translate Fedor Vasilyevich Protosov and Georgei Dmitrievich Abreskov and Ivan Petrovich Alexandrov into Joe and Harry and Fred."
"You don't want a general houseworker, do you? Or a traveling companion, quiet, refined, speaks fluent French entirely in the present tense? Or an assistant billiard-maker? Or a private librarian? Or a lady car-washer? Because if you do, I should appreciate your giving me a trial at the job. Any minute now, I am going to become one of the Great Unemployed. I am about to leave literature flat on its face. I don't want to review books any more. It cuts in too much on my reading."
"When a natural discourse paints a passion or an effect, one feels within oneself the truth of what one reads, which was there before, although one did not know it. Hence one is inclined to love him who makes us feel it, for he has not shown us his own riches, but ours."
"In truth, the legitimate contention is, not of one age or school of literary art against another, but of all successive schools alike, against the stupidity which is dead to the substance, and the vulgarity which is dead to form."
"Literature is a defense against the attacks of life. It says to life: "You can't deceive me. I know your habits, foresee and enjoy watching all your reactions, and steal your secret by involving you in cunning obstructions that halt your normal flow."
"Literature is the expression of a feeling of deprivation, a recourse against a sense of something missing. But the contrary is also true: language is what makes us human. It is a recourse against the meaningless noise and silence of nature and history."
"Whoever has the luck to be born a character can laugh even at death. Because a character will never die! A man will die, a writer, the instrument of creation: but what he has created will never die!"
"The unity of effect or impression is a point of the greatest importance. It is clear, moreover, that this unity cannot be thoroughly preserved in productions whose perusal cannot be completed at one sitting."
"The want of an international Copy-Right Law, by rendering it nearly impossible to obtain anything from the booksellers in the way of remuneration for literary labor, has had the effect of forcing many of our very best writers into the service of the Magazines and Reviews."