“We don't really learn anything properly until there is a problem, until we are in pain, until something fails to go as we had hoped ... We suffer, therefore we think.”
“There may be significant things to learn about people by looking at what annoys them most.”
“Because the rhythm of conversation makes no allowance for dead periods, because the presence of others calls for continuous responses, we are left to regret the inanity of what we say, and the missed opportunity of what we do not. ”
“Love is an incurable disease. In love, there is permanent suffering. Those who love and those who are happy are not the same.”
“Though we sometimes suspect that people are hiding things from us, it is not until we are in love that we feel an urgency to press our inquiries, and in seeking answers, we are apt to discover the extent to which people disguise and conceal their real lives.”
“When two people part, it is the one who is not in love who makes the tender speeches.”
“The lesson? To respond to the unexpected and hurtful behavior of others with something more than a wipe of the glasses, to see it as a chance to expand our understanding.”
“In reality, every reader is, while he is reading, the reader of his own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to enable him to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have experienced in himself. And the recognition by the reader in his own self of what the book says is the proof of its veracity.”
“There is no man, however wise, who has not at some period of his youth said things, or even lived in a way which was so unpleasant to him in later life that he would gladly, if he could, expunge it from his memory. But he shouldn’t regret this entirely, because he cannot be certain that he has indeed become a wise man – so far as any of us can be wise – unless he has passed through all the fatuous or unwholesome incarnations by which that ultimate stage must be reached. I know there are young people . . . whose teachers have instilled in them a nobility of mind and moral refinement from the very beginning of their schooldays. They perhaps have nothing to retract when they look back upon their lives; they can, if they choose, publish a signed account of everything they have ever said or done; but they are poor creatures, feeble descendants of doctrinaires, and their wisdom is negative and sterile. We cannot be taught wisdom, we have to discover it for ourselves by a journey which no one can undertake for us, an effort which no one can spare us.”
“Our dissatisfactions may be the result of failing to look properly at our lives rather than the result of anything inherently deficient about them.”
“One cannot read a novel without ascribing to the heroine the traits of the one we love.”
“The problem with clichés is not that they contain false ideas, but rather that they are superficial articulations of very good ones.”
“When Proust urges us to evaluate the world properly, he repeatedly reminds us of the value of modest scenes.”
“think that life would suddenly seem wonderful to us if we were threatened to die as you say. Just think of how many projects, travels, love affairs, studies, it—our life—hides from us, made invisible by our laziness which, certain of a future, delays them incessantly. But let all this threaten to become impossible for ever, how beautiful it would become again! Ah! if only the cataclysm doesn’t happen this time, we won’t miss visiting the new galleries of the Louvre, throwing ourselves at the feet of Miss X, making a trip to India. The cataclysm doesn’t happen, we don’t do any of it, because we find ourselves back in the heart of normal life, where negligence deadens desire. And yet we shouldn’t have needed the cataclysm to love life today. It would have been enough to think that we are humans, and that death may come this evening.”
“There is a danger of developing a blanket distaste for modern life which could have its attractions but lack the all-important images to help us identify them.”
“Pain is surprising; we cannot understand why we have been abandoned in love... why we are unable to sleep at night.... Identifying reasons for such discomforts does not spectacularly absolve us of pain, but it may form the principal basis of a recovery. While assuring us that we are not uniquely cursed, understanding grants us a sense of the boundaries to, and bitter logic behind, our suffering. 'Griefs, at the moment when they change into ideas, lose some of their power to injure our heart.' - Proust”
“It might be a Proustian slogan: n’allez pas trop vite. And an advantage of not going by too fast is that the world has a chance of becoming more interesting in the process.”
“It is difficult when reading the description of certain fictional characters not at the same time to imagine the real-life acquaintances who they most closely, if often unexpectedly, resemble.”
“Q: Did he think that love could last forever? A: Well, no, but the limits to eternity didn’t lie specifically with love. They lay in the general difficulty of maintaining an appreciative relationship with anything or anyone that was always around.”
“They therefore have no opportunity to suffer the interval between desire and gratification which the less privileged endure, and which, for all its apparent unpleasantness, has the incalculable benefit of allowing people to know and fall deeply in love with paintings in Dresden, hats, dressing gowns, and someone who isn’t free this evening.”
“The moral? That life can be a stranger substance than a cliche life, that goldfinches should occasionally do things differently from their parents, and that there are persuasive reasons for calling a loved one Plouplou, Missou, or poor little wolf.”
“The incident emphasizes once more that beauty is something to be found, rather than passively encountered, that it requires us to pick up on certain details, to identify the whiteness of a cotton dress, the reflection of the sea on the hull of a yacht, or the contrast between the color of a jockey’s coat and his face.”
“Look not just at the Roman campagna, the pageantry of Venice, and the proud expression of Charles I astride his horse, but also have a look at the bowl on the sideboard, the dead fish in your kitchen, and the crusty bread loaves in the hall.”
“Reading Proust nearly silenced Virginia Woolf. She loved his novel, but loved it rather too much. There wasn’t enough wrong with it—a crushing recognition when one considers Walter Benjamin’s assessment of why people become writers: because they are unable to find a book already written that they are completely happy with. And”
“The value of a novel is not limited to its depiction of emotions and people akin to those in our own life; it stretches to an ability to describe these far better than we would have been able, to put a finger on perceptions that we recognize as our own, but could not have formulated on our own.”
“It should not be Illiers-Combray that we visit: a genuine homage to Proust would be to look at our world through his eyes, not look at his world through our eyes.”
“Our best chance of contentment lies in taking up the wisdom offered to us in coded form through our coughs, allergies, social gaffes, and emotional betrayals, and avoid the ingratitude of those who blame the peas, the bores, the time, and the weather.”
“To make it into a discipline is to give too large a role to what is only an incitement. Reading is on the threshold of the spiritual life; it can introduce us to it: it does not constitute it.”
“There are few things humans are more dedicated to than unhappiness. Had we been placed on earth by a malign creator for the exclusive purpose of suffering, we would have good reason to congratulate ourselves on our enthusiastic response to the task. Reasons to be inconsolable abound: the frailty of our bodies, the fickleness of love, the insincerities of social life, the compromises of friendship, the deadening effects of habit. In the face of such persistent ills, we might naturally expect that no event would be awaited with greater anticipation than the moment of our own extinction. Someone”
“The whole art of living is to make use of the individuals through whom we suffer.”
“MAN: Do you have black and white film posters?
BOOKSELLER: Yes, we do. They’re over here.
MAN: Do you have any posters of Adolf Hitler?
MAN: Adolf Hitler.
BOOKSELLER: Well, he wasn’t a film star, was he.
MAN: Yes, he was. He was American. Jewish, I think...”
“The desires of the human heart know no reason or rules.”
“All my life I have been pursued by the black dogs of unaccountable gloom”
“The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keep out the joy. ~ Jim Rohn”
“Jim pushed against my leg to peer inside. "Well, now, there's a sight you don't see every day."
"Voulez-vous cesser de me cracker dessuspendant que vous parlez," I said, my heart pounding wildly.
"There's the spitting-in-my-face saying," Jim said softly to itself.
"J'ai une grenouille dans mon bidet!" I growled.
"And the frogs."
"T'as une tete afaire sauter les plaques d'egouts," I wailed.
"Face like a manhole cover. Can merde be very far behind?"
"Merde!" I bellowed.
"You can say that again," Jim said.”
BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.
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