"Art is a concrete and personal and rather childish thing after all--no matter what people do to graft it into science and make itsociological and psychological; it is no good at all unless it is let alone to be itself--a game of make-believe, or re-production, very exciting and delightful to people who have an ear for it or an eye for it."
"Every artist knows that there is no such thing as "freedom" in art. The first thing an artist does when he begins a new work is tolay down the barriers and limitations; he decides upon a certain composition, a certain key, a certain relation of creatures or objects to each other. He is never free, and the more splendid his imagination, the more intense his feeling, the farther he goes from general truth and general emotion."
"Art, it seems to me, should simplify. That, indeed, is very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process; finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole--so that all that one has suppressed and cut away is there to the reader's consciousness as much as if it were in type on the page."
"What was any art but an effort to make a sheath, a mould in which to imprison for a moment the shining, elusive element which is life itself--life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose?"
"If [the writer] achieves anything noble, anything enduring, it must be by giving himself absolutely to his material. And this giftof sympathy is his great gift; is the fine thing in him that alone can make his work fine."
"Whatever is felt upon the page without being specifically named there--that, one might say, is created. It is the inexplicable presence of the thing not named, of the overtone divined by the ear but not heard by it, the verbal mood, the emotional aura of the fact or the thing or the deed, that gives high quality to the novel or the drama, as well as to poetry itself."
"The higher processes are all processes of simplification. The novelist must learn to write, and then he must unlearn it; just as the modern painter learns to draw, and then learns when utterly to disregard his accomplishment, when to subordinate it to a higher and truer effect."
"When I am finishing a picture I hold some God-made object up to it--a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand--as a kind of final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there's a clash between the two, it is bad art."
"It doesn't matter that your painting is small. Kopecks are also small, but when a lot are put together they make a ruble. Each painting displayed in a gallery and each good book that makes it into a library, no matter how small they may be, serves a great cause: accretion of the national wealth."
"Art has no cosmology, it gives us no view of the universe; every distinct work of art gives us a little cosmology of its own, andno ingenuity will combine all these into a single whole. But religion is essentially cosmological, though its cosmology is always an imaginative cosmology. Any given religious experience can be fitted by this cosmology into the scheme of the whole, and labeled as an ascent into the third heaven, a temptation of the devil, and so forth. Hence religion is social, as art can never be. The sociability of artists is a paradoxical and precarious thing, and ceases the instant they begin their actual artistic work. But the sociability of religion is part of its fundamental nature. The life of religion is always the life of a church."