26+ quotes from Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow

Quotes from Ragtime

E.L. Doctorow ·  320 pages

Rating: (32.3K votes)


“I am often asked the question How can the masses permit themselves to be exploited by the few. The answer is By being persuaded to identify with them.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“It was evident to him that the world composed and recomposed itself constantly in an endless process of dissatisfaction.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“We are all good friends. Friendship is what endures. Shared ideals, respect for the whole character of a human being. ”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“Because like all whores you value propriety. You are creature of capitalism, the ethics of which are so totally corrupt and hypocritical that your beauty is no more than the beauty of gold, which is to say false and cold and useless.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“And though the newspapers called the shooting the Crime of the Century, Goldman knew it was only 1906 and there were ninety-four years to go.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“His life was absurd. He went all over the world accepting all kinds of bondage and escaping. He was roped to a chair. He escaped. He was chained to a ladder. He escaped. He was handcuffed, his legs were put in irons, he was tied up in a strait jacket and put in a locked cabinet. He escaped. He escaped from bank vaults, nailed-up barrels, sewn mailbags; he escaped from a zinc-lined Knabe piano case, a giant football, a galvanized iron boiler, a rolltop desk, a sausage skin. His escapes were mystifying because he never damaged or appeared to unlock what he escaped from. The screen was pulled away and there he stood disheveled but triumphant beside the inviolate container that was supposed to have contained him. He waved to the crowd. He escaped from a sealed milk can filled with water. He escaped from a Siberian exile van. From a Chinese torture crucifix. From a Hamburg penitentiary. From an English prison ship. From a Boston jail. He was chained to automobile tires, water wheels, cannon, and he escaped. He dove manacled from a bridge into the Mississippi, the Seine, the Mersey, and came up waving. He hung upside down and strait-jacketed from cranes, biplanes and the tops of buildings. He was dropped into the ocean padlocked in a diving suit fully weighted and not connected to an air supply, and he escaped. He was buried alive in a grave and could not escape, and had to be rescued. Hurriedly, they dug him out. The earth is too heavy, he said gasping. His nails bled. Soil fell from his eyes. He was drained of color and couldn't stand. His assistant threw up. Houdini wheezed and sputtered. He coughed blood. They cleaned him off and took him back to the hotel. Today, nearly fifty years since his death, the audience for escapes is even larger.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“You're nothing more than a clever prostitute. You accepted the conditions in which you found yourself and you triumphed.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“And why? Is our genius only in our wombs? Can we not write books and create learned scholarship and perform music and provide philosophical models for the betterment of mankind?”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“Father looked at her and she was beautiful in the way she had been as a girl. He did not realize the pleasure he felt in having made her cry.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“No longer expecting to be beautiful and touched with grace till the end of her days, she was coming to the realization that whereas once, in his courtship, Father might have embodied the infinite possibilities of loving, he had aged and gone dull, made stupid, perhaps, by his travels and his work, so that more and more he only demonstrated his limits, that he had reached them, and that he would never move beyond them.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“Thus with continued concentration and the expenditure of enormous amounts of energy he tried to keep himself from slipping into the vast distances of his unhappiness. It was all around him. It was a darkness as impudently close as his brow. It choked him by its closeness. And what was most terrifying was its treachery. He would wake up in the morning and see the sun coming in the window, and sit up in his bed and think it was gone, and then find it there after all, behind his ears or in his heart.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“The consumption of food was a sacrament of success. A man who carried a great stomach before him was thought to be in his prime. Women went into hospitals to die of burst bladders, collapsed lungs, overtaxed hearts and meningitis of the spine. There was a heavy traffic to the spas and sulphur springs, where the purgative was valued as an inducement to the appetite. America was a great farting country. All this began to change when Taft moved into the White House. His accession to the one mythic office in the American imagination weighed everyone down. His great figure immediately expressed the apotheosis of that style of man. Thereafter fashion would go the other way and only poor people would be stout.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“To Morgan, the disfigurement of his monstrous nose was the touch of God upon him, the assurance of mortality. It was the steadiest assurance he had.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“It proposed that human beings, by the act of making witness, warranted times and places for their existence other than the time and place they were living through.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“Somehow he had catapulted himself beyond the world's value system. But this very fact lay upon him an awesome responsibility to maintain the illusions of other men.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“So that individuation may be compared to a pyramid in that it is only achieved by the placement of the top stone… The Jews, Ford said. They ain't like anyone else I know. There goes you theory up shits creek. He smiled.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“It is the law of wealth that such people only profit from the money that is taken from them.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“the forms of life were volatile and that everything in the world could as easily be something else.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“For a moment he thought the chair was aligned, but then he decided it was not. He moved it another turn to the right. He tried sitting in the chair now but it still felt peculiar. He turned it again. Eventually he made a complete circle and still he could not find the proper alignment for the chair.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“Morgan had ordered a light lunch. They did not say much as they dined without other”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“The businessmen wondered if they could create such individuals not from the accidents of news events but from the deliberate manufactures of their own medium.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“support of the Mexican Revolution. He hadn’t known”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“Do not play this piece fast It is never right to play Ragtime fast.… —SCOTT JOPLIN”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“Suppose I could prove to you that there are universal patterns of order and repetition that give meaning to the activity of this planet. Suppose I could demonstrate that you yourself are an instrumentation in our modern age of trends”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


“Women went into hospitals to die of burst bladders, collapsed lungs, overtaxed hearts and meningitis of the spine. There”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Ragtime


About the author

E.L. Doctorow
Born place: in Bronx, New York City, New York, The United States
Born date January 6, 1931
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