You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place, I told him, like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again.
Do not, under any circumstances, belittle a work of fiction by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of real life; what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.
You don't read Gatsby, I said, to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn about how complicated issues such as adultery and fidelity and marriage are. A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.
Memories have ways of becoming independent of the reality they evoke. They can soften us against those we were deeply hurt by or they can make us resent those we once accepted and loved unconditionally.
None of us can avoid being contaminated by the world's evils; it's all a matter of what attitude you take towards them.
Empathy lies at the heart of Gatsby, like so many other great novels--the biggest sin is to be blind to others' problems and pains. Not seeing them means denying their existence.
Imagine you are walking down a leafy path…The sun is receding, and you are walking alone, caressed by the breezy light of the late afternoon. Then suddenly, you feel a large drop on your right arm. Is it raining? You look up. The sky is still deceptively sunny…seconds later another drop. Then, with the sun still perched in the sky, you are drenched in a shower of rain. This is how memories invade me, abruptly and unexpectedly….
Reality has become so intolerable, she said, so bleak, that all I can paint now are the colors of my dreams.
Every fairy tale offers the potential to surpass present limits, so in a sense the fairy tale offers you freedoms that reality denies.
A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.
It is only through literature that one can put oneself in someone else’s shoes and understand the other’s different and contradictory sides and refrain from becoming too ruthless. Outside the sphere of literature only one aspect of individuals is revealed. But if you understand their different dimensions you cannot easily murder them. ..
I told them this novel was an American classic, in many ways the quintessential American novel. There were other contenders: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Moby-Dick, The Scarlet Letter. Some cite its subject matter, the American Dream, to justify this distinction. We in ancient countries have our past--we obsess over the past. They, the Americans, have a dream: they feel nostalgia about the promise of the future.
[A] novel is not moral in the usual sense of the word. It can be called moral when it shakes us out of our stupor and makes us confront the absolutes we believe in.
The worst crime committed by totalitarian mind-sets is that they force their citizens, including their victims, to become complicit in their crimes. Dancing with your jailer, participating in your own execution, that is an act of utmost brutality.
A good novel is one that shows the complexity of individuals, and creates enough space for all these characters to have a voice; in this way a novel is called democratic - not that it advocates democracy but that by nature it is so. Empathy lies at the heart of Gatsby, like so many other great novels - the biggest sin is to be blind to others' problems and pains. Not seeing them means denying their existence.
You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place...like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again.
We in ancient countries have our past—we obsess over the past. They, the Americans, have a dream: they feel nostalgia about the promise of the future.
In all great works of fiction, regardless of the grim reality they present, there is an affirmation of life against the transience of that life, an essential defiance. This affirmation lies in the way the author takes control of reality by retelling it in his own way, thus creating a new world. Every great work of art, I would declare pompously, is a celebration, an act of insubordination against the betrayals, horrors and infidelities of life. The perfection and beauty of form rebels against the ugliness and shabbiness of the subject matter.
The novels were an escape from reality in the sense that we could marvel at their beauty and perfection. Curiously, the novels we escaped into led us finally to question and prod our own realities, about which we felt so helplessly speechless.
A novel is not an allegory, I said as the period was about to come to an end. It is the sensual experience of another world. If you don't enter that world, hold your breath with the characters and become involved in their destiny, you won't be able to empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. This is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience. So start breathing.
Once evil is individualized, becoming part of everyday life, the way of resisting it also becomes individual. How does the soul survive? is the essential question. And the response is: through love and imagination.
If I turned towards books, it was because they were the only sanctuary I knew, one I needed in order to survive, to protect some aspect of myself that was now in constant retreat.
The highest form of morality is not to feel at home in ones own home." Most great works of the imagination were meant to make you feel like a stranger in your own home. The best fiction always forced us to question what we took for granted. It questioned traditions and expectations when they seemed too immutable. I told my students I wanted them in their readings to consider in what ways these works unsettled them, made them a little uneasy, made them look around and consider the world, like Alice in Wonderland, through different eyes.
Poshlust, Nabokov explains, "is not only the obviously trashy but mainly the falsely important, the falsely beautiful, the falsely clever, the falsely attractive.
The reason I am so popular is that I give others back what they need to find in themselves. You need me not because I tell you what I want you to do but because I articulate and justify what you want to do.
She resented the fact that her veil, which to her was a symbol of scared relationship to god, had now become an instrument of power, turning the women who wore them into political signs and symbols.
Other people's sorrows and joys have a way of reminding us of our own; we partly empathize with them because we ask ourselves: What about me? What does that say about my life, my pains, my anguish?.
I have a recurring fantasy that one more article has been added to the Bill of Rights: the right to free access to imagination. I have come to believe that genuine democracy cannot exist without the freedom to imagine and the right to use imaginative works without any restrictions. To have a whole life, one must have the possibility of publicly shaping and expressing private worlds, dreams, thoughts and desires, of constantly having access to a dialogue between the public and private worlds. How else do we know that we have existed, felt, desired, hated, feared?.
You ask me what it means to be irrelevant? The feeling is akin to visiting your old house as a wandering ghost with unfinished business. Imagine going back: the structure is familiar,but the door is now metal instead of wood,the walls have been painted a garish pink,the easy chair you loved so much is gone .Your office is now the family room and your beloved bookcases have been replaced by a brand-new television set . This is your house,and it is not. And you are no longer relevant to this house, to its walls and doors and floors ; you are not seen.