"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."
"I can't tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that often art has judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past suffered, so that it has never been forgotten.... Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts, and honour."
"Having found a large dead cat so heavy that he could not move it after several efforts, "Come," said he, (throwing down the pole,)"you shall take it now;" which I accordingly did, and being a fresh man, soon made the cat tumble over the cascade. This may be laughed at as too trifling to record; but it is a small characteristick trait in the Flemish picture which I give of my friend, and in which, therefore I mark the most minute particulars."