Quotes from Wittgenstein's Mistress

David Markson ·  279 pages

Rating: (4.4K votes)


“Was it really some other person I was so anxious to discover...or was it only my own solitude that I could not abide?”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“You will say that I am old and mad, was what Michaelangelo wrote, but I answer that there is no better way of being sane and free from anxiety than by being mad.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“Once, somebody asked Robert Schumann to explain the meaning of a certain piece of music he had just played on the piano.
What Robert Schumann did was sit back down at the piano and play the piece of music again.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“Once, I had a dream of fame.
Generally, even then, I was lonely.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress



“Doubtless these are inconsequential perplexities. Still, inconsequential perplexities have now and again been known to become the fundamental mood of existence, one suspects.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“Once, Turner had himself lashed to the mast of a ship for several hours, during a furious storm, so that he could later paint the storm. Obviously, it was not the storm itself that Turner intended to paint. What he intended to paint was a representation of the storm. One's language is frequently imprecise in that manner, I have discovered.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“On the other hand it is probably safe to assume that Rembrandt and Spinoza surely would have at least passed on the street, now and again.
Or even run into each other quite frequently, if only at some neighborhood shop or other.
And certainly they would have exchanged amenities as well, after a time.
Good morning, Rembrandt. Good morning to you, Spinoza.
I was extremely sorry to hear about your bankruptcy, Rembrandt. I was extremely sorry to hear about your excommunication, Spinoza.
Do have a good day, Rembrandt. Do have the same, Spinoza.
All of this would have been said in Dutch, incidentally.
I mention that simply because it is known that Rembrandt did not speak any other language except Dutch.
Even if Spinoza may have preferred Latin. Or Jewish.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“In fact one frequently seemed to gather all sorts of similar information about subjects one had less than profound interest in.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress



“Have I ever said that Turner once actually had himself lashed to the mast of a ship, to be able to later do a painting of a storm?

Which has never failed to remind me of the scene in which Odysseus does the identical thing, of course, so that he can listen to the Sirens singing but will stay put.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“Still, how I nearly felt. In the midst of all that looking.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“I also believe I met William Gaddis once. He did not look Italian.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“Helen ran off with a lover only once in her life herself, and for three thousand years nobody would ever let her forget about it.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“In addition to remembering things that one does not know how one remembers, one would also appear to remember things that one has no idea how one knew to begin with.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress



“Although one curious thing that might sooner or later cross the woman's mind would be that she had paradoxically been practically as alone before all of this had happened as she was now, incidentally. Well, this being an autobiographical novel I can categorically verify that such a thing would sooner or later cross her mind, in fact. One manner of being alone simply being different from another manner of being alone, being all that she would finally decide that this came down to, as well. Which is to say that even when one's telephone still does function one can be as alone as when it does not.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“Although what I have basically been doing about the rain is ignoring it, to tell the truth.
How I do that is by walking in it.
I did not fail to notice that those last two sentences must certainly look like a contradiction, by the way.
Even if they are on such thing.
One can very agreeably ignore a rain by walking in it.
In fact it is when one allows a rain to prevent one from walking in it that one is failing to ignore it.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“One can very agreeably ignore a rain by walking in it.
In fact it is when one allows a rain to prevent one from walking in it that one is failing to ignore it.
Surely by saying, dear me, I will get soaked through and through if I walk in this rain, for instance, one is in no way ignoring the rain.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“One of the things people generally admire about Van Gogh, even though they were not always aware of it, was the way he could make even a chair seem to have anxiety in it.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“People who write novels only write them when they have very little else to write”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress



“Once, somebody asked Robert Schumann to explain the meaning of a certain piece of music he had just played on the piano. What Robert Schumann did was sit back down at the piano and play the piece of music again.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“I do not masturbate often. Though at times I do so almost without being aware of it, actually.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“Even if I had not been thinking about it, for that matter, certainly I would have had to begin to do so when I typed those last few sentences.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“Very possibly this was what was in Wittgenstein's own mind all of those years later, in face, when he said that you do no need a lot of money to give a nice present, but you do needs a lot of time.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“Have I mentioned looking in Savona, New York, ever? Or in Cambridge, Massachusetts?”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress



“Every single one of the letters having been identical.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“Finally on Tuesday I understood why I was feeling depressed.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“Because what I am also suddenly know thinking about is that it could be an absolutely autobiographical novel that would not start until I was alone, obviously.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


“The novel has been the subject of several scholarly essays and has become a staple of college classes in contemporary fiction (and even the occasional philosophy class).

Fifty-four rejections.”
― David Markson, quote from Wittgenstein's Mistress


About the author

David Markson
Born place: in Albany, New York, The United States
Born date December 20, 1927
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