Sunday, 25 December 2016

Justin Trudeau

(source - Montreal Gazette 15.1.16)
Justin Trudeau
Born: December 25th, 1971 - Ottawa, Canada

Published Common Ground - October 2014
Prime Minister of Canada (2015- )

My idea of freedom is that we should protect the rights of people to believe what their conscience dictates, but fight equally hard to protect people from having the beliefs of others imposed upon them.
- Common Ground

I would agree that encyclopedia’s could teach me facts, but only a great story could transport me into the mind of another person. These stories taught me about empathy, about good and evil, about love and sorrow. My tastes covered many different genres, but the books I loved most proposed the idea that ordinary people (not to mention hobbits) are born with the capability to do extraordinary, even heroic things. The realization came as a sort of code to all the lessons my parents had taught me about looking beyond wealth and appearances, and appreciating the worth of everyone I met. It’s a lesson that sticks with me to this day. No real leader can see the people around them as static creatures. If you cannot see the potential in the people around you, it’s impossible to rouse them to great things.
- Common Ground

For me, to represent people who represent the future of Canada and the great challenges we will face over the coming decades — this is where I wanted to start. … I'm a teacher; I'm a convenor; I'm a gatherer; I'm someone who reaches out to people and is deeply interested in what they have to say. And people see that I'm not faking it. I'm actually genuinely committed to this dialogue that we're opening up, and this understanding that needs to happen in order to be an effective MP. 
- speech on winning his riding nomination in Quebec, 2007

I am a feminist. I’m proud to be a feminist.
Justin Trudeau's Tweet 22.9.15

Facts may fuel a leader’s intellect. But literature fuels the soul.
- Common Ground

Monday, 31 October 2016

John Keats...

John Keats
Born: October 31st, 1795 - London, U.K.
Died: February 23rd, 1821 - Rome, Italy


Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
 Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
- Ode on a Grecian Urn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness 
- Ode to Autumn

I met a lady in the meads, 
Full beautiful, a faery's child: 
Her hair was long, her foot was ligh, 
And her eyes were wild. 
- La Belle Dame Sans Merci

This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood,
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calm'd.
See, here it is --
I hold it towards you --
Keats scribbled the lines hastily on the back of a longer work he was writing in December 1819.
It is probably the last poem he ever wrote...
More details on this poem so connected with Halloween mysteries HERE...

I will clamber through the clouds and exist. 
- Letters of John Keats to His Family and Friends

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Oscar Wilde...

Oscar Wilde 
Born: October 16th, 1854 - Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 30th, 1900 - Paris, France


The truth is rarely pure and never simple.
If I am occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated.
I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
- The Importance of Being Earnest

I can resist anything except temptation.
It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
- Lady Windermere's Fan

The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.
Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.
Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.
- The Picture of Dorian Gray

Every woman is a rebel, and usually in wild revolt against herself.
- A Woman of No Importance

The only people I would care to be with now are artists and people who have suffered: those who know what beauty is, and those who know what sorrow is: nobody else interests me.
- De Profundis

There is no sin except stupidity.
- The Critic as Artist 

A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave.
- source???

Friday, 7 October 2016

Thomas Keneally...

Thomas Keneally 
Born: October 7th, 1935 - Sydney, Australia

Booker Prize
Miles Franklin Award - twice
Order of Australia - 1983

non-fiction writer

Oskar showed that virtue emerged where it would, and the sort of churchy observance bishops called for was not a guarantee of genuine humanity in a person.
- Searching for Schindler: A Memoir

The afternoon is hot in this alien forest. The sunlight burrows like a worm in both eye-balls. His jacket looks pallid, the arms are rotted out of his yellowing shirt, and, under the gaiters, worn for the occasion, the canvas shoes are too light for this knobbly land. Yet, as already seen, he takes long strides, he moves with vigour. He’s on his way to Mr Commissary Blythe’s place, where his secret bride, Ann Rush, runs the kitchen and the house.
The Whales came back in white froth, and went again; back and went again. Whenever they went, they whacked the water with what looked like wrath in such big creatures. Yet perhaps it was horror. Whichever way, men disappeared amongst curds of angry water . . . the creatures did not come back the third time.
- Bring Larks and Heroes

The dogs were really keening now, like Irish widows.
- Victim of the Aurora

In the mind of a true snob there are certain limited criteria to denote the value of human existence. Jimmie's criteria were: home, hearth, wife, land. Those who possessed these had beatitude unchallengable. Other men had accidental, random life. Nothing better.
The truest crime remaining to him to commit was the waste of love. It should be bequeathed, as land is.
- The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith

Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire. 
The principle was, death should not be entered like some snug harbor. It should be an unambiguous refusal to surrender.
- Schindler's List

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Denis Diderot...

Denis Diderot
Born: October 5th, 1713 - Langres, France
Died: July 31st, 1784 - Paris, France

art critic

For me, my thoughts are my prostitutes. 
- Le neveu de Rameau 

There's a bit of testicle at the bottom of our most sublime feelings and our purest tenderness.
- Letter to Étienne Noël Damilaville (1760-11-03)

I picture the vast realm of the sciences as an immense landscape scattered with patches of dark and light. The goal towards which we must work is either to extend the boundaries of the patches of light, or to increase their number. One of these tasks falls to the creative genius; the other requires a sort of sagacity combined with perfectionism.
- Thoughts on the Interpretation of Nature and Other Philosophical Works

"Spirit of the staircase" or "Staircase inspiration"...
This phrase is a famous allusion to the witty remarks one thinks of when it is too late, as when one is leaving a meeting and going down the stairs.
- Paradoxe sur le Comédien (1773-1777)

Scepticism is the first step towards truth. 
- Pensées philosophiques 

It is better to reveal a weakness than allow oneself be suspected of a vice. 

Life is but a series of misunderstandings. 
- Jacques the Fatalist

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Edward Stratemeyer...

Edward Stratemeyer
Born: October 4th, 1862 - New Jersey, U.S.
Died May 10th, 1930 - New Jersey, U.S.


author and founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate,
which published more than eighty juvenile fiction series from a stable of ghostwriters
under a wealth of pseudonyms.
Sratemeyer himself wrote under a number of pseudonyms and provided plot outlines for the ghostwriters.

The juvemile series were mostly mystery stories and included;
Nancy Drew - pen-name Carolyn Keene
Hardy Boys - pen-name Frnklin W. Dixon
Bobbsey Twins - pen-name Laura Lee Hope
Rover Boys - pen-name Arthur W. Winfield

Monday, 3 October 2016

Gore Vidal...

Gore Vidal
Born: October 3rd, 1925 - New York, U.S.
Died: July 31st, 2012 - California, U.S.

non-fiction writer

Interesting fact: Vidal had bitter feuds with other authors, notably Truman Capote.

We affect one another quite enough merely by existing. Whenever the stars cross, or is it comets? fragments pass briefly from one orbit to another. On rare occasions there is total collision, but most often the two simply continue without incident, neither losing more than a particle to the other, in passing.
- The City and the Pillar

Let the dust take me when the adventure's done and I shall make the dust glitter for all eternity with my marvelous fury.
That my plans have lately gone somewhat awry is the sort of risk one must take if life is to be superb.
- Myra Breckinridge

How marvelous books are, crossing worlds and centuries, defeating ignorance and, finally, cruel time itself. 
My memory plays me odd tricks these days [...] Age spares us nothing, old friend. Like ancient trees, we die from the top.
- Julian

I have always regarded as a stroke of good fortune that I was not born or brought up in a small American town; they may be the backbone of the nation, but they are also the backbone of ignorance, bigotry, and boredom, all in vast quantities.
- Death Before Bedtime

In fact, life itself is a contradiction if only because birth is the direct cause, in every single case, of death.
- Creation

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Graham Greene...

Graham Greene 
Born: October 2nd, 1904 - Berkhamstead, U.K.
Died: April 3rd, 1991 - Vevey, Switzerland

short story writer
travel writer
screenplay writer

A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.
Eternity is said not to be an extension of time but an absence of time.
- The End of the Affair

He gave her a bright fake smile; so much of life was a putting off of unhappiness for another time.
- The Heart of the Matter

We never get accustomed to being less important to other people than they are to us.
- The Third Man

It is always of interest to know what strikes another human being as remarkable.
The Ministry of Fear

There was always another side to a joke, the side of the victim.
- Our Man in Havana

Hate is a lack of imagination.
The world was in her heart already, like the small spot of decay in a fruit.
Oh well, perhaps when you're my age you'll know the heart is an untrustworthy beast.The mind too,but it doesn't talk about love.
And when we love our sin then we are damned indeed.
- The Power and the Glory

You cannot love without intuition.
- The Quiet American

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Faith Baldwin...

Faith Baldwin  (wrote about 85 books - New York Times HERE)
Born: October 1st, 1893 - New York, U.S.
Died: March 18th, 1978 - Connecticut, U.S.

short story writer
magazine articles

(special mentor to a child HERE)

All this makes me realize that miracles are everyday things. Not only the sudden, great good fortune, wafting in on a new wind from the sky. They are almost routine, yet miracles just the same.
- Seasons of the Heart

Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.
- American Family

That coffee's strong enough to walk on.
- Give Love the Air

You could get to the bottom of her mind in one dive. And rarely, if ever, come up with a pearl.
- Something Special

Kissing tends to bring on woolgathering, even amnesia.
- One More Time

The plan of Nature is progress and for any progress mankind must pay a price.
Life is rather like a long train ride; you may encounter a great many people, but looking out from your own small compartment of self you catch only a glimpse of other people's joy or despair.
- Evening Star

Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations.
Sometimes there is a greater lack of communication in facile talking than in silence.
- Face Toward the Spring

Friday, 30 September 2016

Truman Capote...

Truman Capote
Born: September 30th, 1924 - Louisianna, U.S.
Died: August 25th, 1984 - California, U.S.

short story writer
non-fiction writer

It’s better to look at the sky than live there.
Never love a wild thing...If you let yourself love a wild thing. You'll end up looking at the sky.
Everybody has to feel superior to somebody," she said. "But it's customary to present a little proof before you take the privilege.
Home is where you feel at home. I'm still looking.
- Breakfast at Tiffany's

It is no shame to have a dirty face- the shame comes when you keep it dirty.
Just remember: If one bird carried every grain of sand, grain by grain, across the ocean, by the time he got them all on the other side, that would only be the beginning of eternity.
Imagination, of course, can open any door - turn the key and let terror walk right in.
- In Cold Blood

There were hints of sunrise on the rim of the sky, yet it was still dark, and the traces of morning color were like goldfish swimming in ink.
- The Muses Are Heard

Still, when all is said, somewhere one must belong: even the soaring falcon returns to its master's wrist.
Oh, I adore to cook. It makes me feel so mindless in a worthwhile way.
- Summer Crossing

It's bad enough in life to do without something YOU want; but confound it, what gets my goat is not being able to give somebody something you want THEM to have.
- A Christmas Memory 

We all, sometimes, leave each other there under the skies, and we never understand why.
- Music for Chameleons

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra...

Miguel de Cervantes
Born: September 29th, 1547 - Alcara de Hanares, Spain
Died: April 22nd, 1616 - Madrid, Spain


The venerable old Don, despite all his human flaws and follies, possessed a nobility of purpose that redeemed the limitations of his powers. Spain honored him, loved him, and forgave him.
Virtue is persecuted by the wicked more than it is loved by the good.
Laughter distances us from that which is ugly and therefore potentially distressing, and indeed enables us to obtain paradoxical pleasure and therapeutic benefit from it.
Time has more power to undo and change things than the human will.
It is one thing to write as poet and another to write as a historian: the poet can recount or sing about things not as they were, but as they should have been, and the historian must write about them not as they should have been, but as they were, without adding or subtracting anything from the truth.
Where there's music there can be no evil.
- The Life and Adventures of the Renowned Don Quixote de la Mancha 

2016 has been named ''Year of Shakespeare and Cervantes''.
Both died 400 years ago in April, almost on the same day. (Shakespeare - April 23)

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Kate Douglas Wiggin...

Kate Douglas Wiggin
Born: September 28th, 1856 - Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died: August 24th, 1923 - London, U.K.

children's story writer

To let blessed babies go dangling and dawdling without names, for months and months, was enough to ruin them for life.
- The Bird's Christmas Carol

No whimpering, madam! You can't have the joys of motherhood without some of its pangs! Think of your blessings, and don't be a coward!—
- Mother Carey's Chickens

Lord, I do not ask that Thou shouldst give me wealth; only show me where it is, and I will attend to the rest.
- Penelope's Progress

There are certain narrow, umimaginative, and autocratic old people who seem to call out the most mischievous and sometimes the worst traits in children.
Great, wide, beautiful, wonderful World,
With the wonderful water round you curled,
And the wonderful grass upon your breast,
World, you are beautifully drest!
- Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

There is a kind of magicness about going far away and then coming back all changed.
- New Chronicles of Rebecca

If I haven't anything to write, I am just as anxious to 'take my pen in hand' as though I had a message to deliver, a cause to plead, or a problem to unfold. Nothing but writing rests me; only then do I seem completely myself! 
Pictures made in childhood are painted in bright hues.
- My Garden of Memory

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Josef Škvorecký...

Josef Škvorecký
Born: September 27th, 1924 - Nachod, Czech Republic
Died: Janurary 3rd, 2012 - Toronto, Canada

non-fiction writer

Regarded as a Czech-Canadian writer
I am a Czech and I am a loyal citizen of Canada, he told an interviewer in 2006.

We may think we live for wisdom, but in fact we're living for the the pleasure wisdom brings us.
- The Engineer of Human Souls

After sixty years of the Soviet state’s struggle against art, it should be obvious that Marxists in power do not trouble themselves about aesthetics.
- Hipness at Noon

There’s this tradition in Czech literature that books are sacred, and therefore the language used in writing books is very formal—without contractions, distortions, or slang...
Hemingway. I suddenly saw that you could write dialogue as people spoke it. But I didn’t read Hemingway until the end of the war in an English-language Swedish edition of A Farewell to Arms. And then I read everything. It opened my eyes. I realized that you could write dialogue that need not be informational; it simply was.
If you live in a country where politics are oppressive and you write—or try to write—you can’t avoid being a political writer. I enjoy writing about other things, but to write a novel about Bohemia in the past forty years and avoid politics entirely would be to write some sort of romantic idyll that never existed. I consider myself a realistic writer; it’s unfortunate that one becomes a political writer out of necessity.
Every writer writes, first of all, for himself. I think my primary readership consists of intelligent exiles because I write about Czechs not only in Czechoslovakia, but also in North America as in my new novel, about the role of Czechs during the Civil War. But I believe that if something has relevance for people of my own nation, then it probably has relevance for everybody, and that there’s something universal about it. The accidentals may be different, but the basics are the same, and they’re universal.
- Paris Review Interview - 1989 - but interview actually conducted 1985

Monday, 26 September 2016

T.S. Eliot...

T.S. Eliot
Born: September 26th, 1888 - Missouri, U.S.
Died; January 4th, 1965 - London, U.K.

He became a British citizen in 1927

Nobel Prize in Literature - 1948


Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.
- The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw.
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
- The Hollow Men

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you
I will show you fear in a handful of dust
- The Waste Land

Footfalls echo in the memory, down the passage we did not take,
towards the door we never opened, into the rose garden.
- Four Quartets

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity, 
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity. 
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare: 
At whatever time the deed took place - MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!
- Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

The last act is the greatest treason. To do the right deed for the wrong reason.
- Murder in the Cathedral

Sunday, 25 September 2016

William Faulkner...

William Faulkner
Born: September 25th, 1897 - Mississippi, U.S.
Died: July 6th, 1962 - Mississippi, U.S.

short story writer

Nobel Prize for Literature 1949
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 1955, 1963

Caddy got the box and set it on the floor and opened it. It was full of stars. When I was still, they were still. When I moved, they glinted and sparkled. I hushed.
And I will look down and see my murmuring bones and the deep water like wind, like a roof of wind, and after a long time they cannot distinguish even bones upon the lonely and inviolate sand.
- The Sound and the Fury

I feel like a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth.
- As I Lay Dying

She was the captain of her soul...
- Light in August

War is an episode, a crisis, a fever the purpose of which is to rid the body of fever. So the purpose of a war is to end the war.
- A Fable

Given a choice between grief and nothing, I'd choose grief
- The Wild Palms man can cause more grief than the one clinging blindly to the vices of his ancesters.
- Intruder in the Dust

If happy I can be I will, if suffer I must I can.
- Absalom, Absalom!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

F. Scott Fitzgerald...

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Born: September 24th, 1896 - Minnesota, U.S.
Died: December 21st, 1940 - California, U.S.

short story writer

In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.
I love New York on summer afternoons when everyone's away. There's something very sensuous about it - overripe, as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into your hands.
So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star.
The exhilarating ripple of her voice was a wild tonic in the rain.
A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about.
- The Great Gatsby

All life is just a progression toward, and then a recession from, one phrase--"I love you."
- The Offshore Pirate

Receding from grief, it seems necessary to retrace the same steps that brought us there.
- Tender is the Night

In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning, day after day.
- The Crack-Up

I simply state that I'm a product of a versatile mind in a restless generation — with every reason to throw my mind and pen in with the radicals.
- This Side of Paradise

Everybody's youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness.
- The Diamond as Big as the Ritz

Friday, 23 September 2016

Augustus Caesar...

Augustus  (first emperor of Rome)
Born: September 23rd, 63B.C. - Rome, Italy
Died; August 19th, 14A.D. - Nola, Italy


At the age of nineteen, on my own initiative and at my own expense, I raised an army by means of which I restored liberty to the republic, which had been oppressed by the tyranny of a faction. For which service the senate, with complimentary resolutions, enrolled me in its order...
Wars, both civil and foreign, I undertook throughout the world, on sea and land, and when victorious I spared all citizens who sued for pardon. The foreign nations which could with safety be pardoned I preferred to save rather than to destroy. 
- Res Gestae Divi Augusti

I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.
- Augustus' statement recorded by Suetonius (Roman historian) in The Twelve Caesars

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Fay Weldon...

Fay Weldon
Born: September 22nd, 1933 - Alvechurch, U.K.


Booker Prize for Fiction - 1979

The more you pay attention to the body, the less attention you've got left to pay the soul. I really do understand that.
- Darcy's Utopia

Food. Drink. Sleep. Books. They are all drugs.
- The Fat Woman's Joke

The language of distinction ceases to be available; is no longer available. We must search CD Rom for meanings which once were clear, but now are obscure. The words are too big for the narrow column of the contemporary newspaper. We are all one-syllable people now, two at most.
- Wicked Women 

A writer writes opaquely to keep some readers out, let others in. It is what he or she meant to do. It is not accidental - obscurity of language, inconsistency of thought ... it's not for everyone, it was never meant to be.
- Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen
(Interesting review of the letters HERE)

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

H. G. Wells...

H. G. Wells
Born: September 21st, 1866 - Bromley, U.K.
Died: August 13th, 1946 - London, U.K.


Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life.
- The Time Machine

All men, however highly educated, retain some superstitious inklings.
- The Invisible Man

Few people realise the immensity of vacancy in which the dust of the material universe swims.
- The War of the Worlds
(Today is the International Day of Peace 2016)

So utterly at variance is Destiny with all the little plans of men.
- The First Men in the Moon

There is no liberty, save wisdom and self-control. Liberty is within--not without. It is each man's own affair.
- When the Sleeper Wakes

I hope, or I could not live.
- The Island of Dr. Moreau

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Upton Sinclair...

Upton Sinclair
Born: September 20th, 1878 - Maryland, U.S.
Died: November 25th, 1968 - New Jersey, U.S.
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction - 1943

political and social activist

The old wanderlust had gotten into his blood, the joy of the unbound life, the joy of seeking, of hoping without limit.
The rich people not only had all the money, they had all the chance to get more; they had all the know-ledge and the power, and so the poor man was down, and he had to stay down.
There is one kind of prison where the man is behind bars, and everything that he desires is outside; and there is another kind where the things are behind the bars, and the man is outside.
They use everything about the hog except the squeal.
- The Jungle 

Man is an evasive beast, given to cultivating strange notions about himself.
- The Profits of Religion

Monday, 19 September 2016

William Golding...

William Golding
Born: September 19th, 1911 - Newquay, U.K.
Died: June 19th, 1993 - Perranarwarthal, U.K.
Nobel Prize for Literature 1983


Maybe there is a beast… maybe it's only us.
The air was heavy with unspoken knowledge. 
- Lord of the Flies

I am here; and here is nowhere in particular.
- The Spire

We're all mad, the whole damned race. We're wrapped in illusions, delusions, confusions about the penetrability of partitions, we're all mad and in solitary confinement.
- Darkness Visible

Perhaps the various burnings of the Alexandria Library were necessary, like those Australian Forest Fires without which the new seeds cannot burst their shells and make a young, healthy forest.
- A Moving Target

Art is partly communication, but only partly. The rest is discovery.
- Free Fall

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Dr Samuel Johnson...

Dr Samuel Johnson
Born: September 18th, 1709 - Lichfield, U.K.
Died: December, 13th. 1784 - London, U.K.


Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.
Every man is rich or poor according to the proportion between his desires and his enjoyments.
- The Rambler

Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language.
- A Dictionary of the English Language

Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought. Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.
- The Idler 

Language is the dress of thought.
- The Life of Cowley

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Ken Kesey...

Ken Kesey
Born: September 17th, 1935 - Colorado, U.S.
Died: November 10th, 2001 - Oregon, U.S.

short story writer
children's story writer

Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.
You get your visions through whatever gate you're granted.
They can't tell so much about you if you got your eyes closed.
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

I'd rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.
- Tom Wolfe's record of Kesey quotes in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)

What I always wanted to be was a magician... My real upbringing when I was a teenager was doing magic shows, all over the state, with my father and brothers. Doing magic, you not only have to be able to do a trick, you have to have a little story line to go with it. And writing is essentially a trick.
- interview in The Sun Times (South Africa) - 29 August 1999

Friday, 16 September 2016

John Gay's baptism ...

John Gay
Baptised: September 16th, (but actually born June 30th), 1685) - Barnstaple, U.K.
(Birthdays were not generally celebrated in the 17th century.
Some people marked the anniversary of their baptism, as the day of their birth as a Christian.)
Died: December 4th, 1732 - London, U.K.


I hate the man who builds his name
On ruins of another's fame.
Thus prudes, by characters o'erthrown,
Imagine that they raise their own.
Thus Scribblers, covetous of praise,
Think slander can transplant the bays.
Fools may our scorn, not envy raise,
For envy is a kind of praise.
- Fables

If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.  - The What D'ye Call It

Lions, wolves, and vultures don't live together in herds, droves or flocks. Of all animals of prey, man is the only sociable one. Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
- The Beggar's Opera

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Agatha Christie...

Agatha Christie
Born: September 15th, 1890 - Torquay, U.K.
Died: January 12th, 1976 - Winterbrook, U.K.

short story writer

The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.
- Murder on the Orient Express

Everybody always knows something," said Adam, "even if it's something they don't know they know.
- Cat Among the Pigeons

Many homicidal lunatics are very quiet, unassuming people. Delightful fellows.
- And Then There Were None: A Mystery Play in Three Acts

There is no detective in England equal to a spinster lady of uncertain age with plenty of time on her hands.
- Murder at the Vicarage

I know there's a proverb which that says 'To err is human,' but a human error is nothing to what a computer can do if it tries.
- Hallowe'en Party

It is clear that the books owned the shop rather than the other way about. Everywhere they had run wild and taken possession of their habitat, breeding and multiplying, and clearly lacking any strong hand to keep them down.
- The Clocks

2016 marks the centenary of Agatha Christie writing her first detective story
 – The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
The Royal Mail is marking the centenary with the release of 6 stamps representing 6 of her novels...
- more HERE

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Theodor Storm...

Theodor Storm
Born: September 14th, 1817 - Husum, Germany
Died: July 4th, 1888 - Hanerau-Hademarschen, Germany


Clouds gather, treetops toss and sway; 
But pour us wine, an old one! 
That we may turn this dreary day 
To golden; yes, to golden! 
- A Song in October

Between the shadows of the earth and the dark depths of the sky, human life lay slumbering, with all its unsolved puzzles.
- Immensee

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Roald Dahl...

Roald Dahl
Born: September 13th, 1916 - Cardiff, U.K.
Died: November 23rd, 1990 - Oxford, U.K.

short story writer

A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.
- Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Whipped cream isn't whipped cream at all if it hasn't been whipped with whips, just like poached eggs isn't poached eggs unless it's been stolen in the dead of the night.
I am the maker of music, the dreamer of dreams!
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Two rights don't equal a left.
- The BFG

My dear young fellow,' the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, 'there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven't started wondering about yet.'
- James and the Giant Peach 

And don’t worry about the bits you can’t understand. Sit back and allow the words to wash around you, like music.
- Matilda

Monday, 12 September 2016

Stanislaw Lem...

Stanislaw Lem
Born: September 12th, 1921 - Lwow, Poland (now Ukraine)
Died: March 27th, 2006 - Krakow, Poland

science fiction

Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers, and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed.
- Solaris

Every science comes with its own pseudo-science, a bizarre distortion that comes from a certain kind of mind.
- Solaris 

Just as in a dream, whatever he saw was both totally alien and extremely familiar.
- Fiasco

Sunday, 11 September 2016

D.H. Lawrence...

D. H. Lawrence
Born: September 11, 1885 - U.K.
Died: March 2nd, 1930 - Vence, France

short story writer

I like to write when I feel spiteful. It is like having a good sneeze.
(Letter to Cynthia Asquith, November 1913)

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.
- The Complete Poems

Instead of chopping yourself down to fit the world, chop the world down to fit yourself.
- Women in Love

And in this passion for understanding her soul lay close to his; she had him all to herself. But he must be made abstract first.
- Sons and Lovers

Perhaps only people who are capable of real togetherness have that look of being alone in the universe. The others have a certain stickiness, they stick to the mass.
- Lady Chatterley's Lover 

A snake came to my water-trough 
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat, 
 To drink there. 
In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree 
I came down the steps with my pitcher 
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before 

 He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom 
And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of 
the stone trough 
And rested his throat upon the stone bottom, 
And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness, 
He sipped with his straight mouth, 
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body, 
- Snake

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Mary Oliver...

Mary Oliver
Born: September 10, 1935 - Ohio, U.S.

poet (Pulitzer Prize for poetry)

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

 When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

 I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
 to be blessed.
- Evidence: Poems

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
 It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
- Thirst 

Poetry is a life-cherishing force. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.
- A Poetry Handbook

Friday, 9 September 2016

Leo Tolstoy...

Leo Tolstoy
Born: September 9th, 1868 - Russia
Died: November 20, 1910 - Russia

short story writer

We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.
- War and Peace

Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed.
- Anna Karenina

It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.
- The Kreutzer Sonata 

Art lifts man from his personal life into the universal life.
- What is Art?

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Marilyn Durham...

Marilyn Durham
Born: September 8th, 1930 - Indiana, U.S.
Died: March 19th, 2015 - Indiana, U.S.


He wanted to be a leader like his father. He ended up being an imitation white man.  
- The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing - pub. 1972 + a film 1973
- quote is from the film version

On matters of fact I may give him opinions, but on matters of his opinions I hold my tongue.
- Flambard's Confession

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Dame Edith Sitwell...

Dame Edith Sitwell
Born: September 7th, 1887 - UK (same birthday as Elizabeth I)
Died: December 9th, 1964 - UK


Poetry is the deification of reality.

Still falls the Rain—-
Dark as the world of man, black as our loss—-
Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails
Upon the Cross.

 Still falls the Rain
With a sound like the pulse of the heart that is changed to the hammer-beat
In the Potter's Field, and the sound of the impious feet

 On the Tomb:
                          Still falls the Rain

Bells of gray crystal
Break on each bough—
The swans' breath will mist all
The cold airs now.
Like tall pagodas
Two people go,
Trail their long codas
Of talk through the snow. 

Enobles the heart and the eyes, 
 and unveils the meaning of all things 
 upon which the heart and the eyes dwell. 
 It discovers the secret rays of the universe, 
 and restores to us forgotten paradises.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Marquis de Lafayette...

Marquis de Lafayette
Born: September 6th, 1757 - France
Died: May 20, 1834 - France


My heart has always been truly convinced that in serving the cause of America, I am fighting for the interests of France.

It is the pride of my heart to have been one of the earliest adopted sons of America. 

 I read, I study, I examine, I listen, I reflect, and out of all of this I try to form an idea into which I put as much common sense as I can.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Justin (Joe) Kaplan...

Justin Kaplan
Born: September 5th, 1925 - NY, U.S.
Died: March 2nd, 2014 - Massachusetts, U.S.

- Mr Clemens and Mark Twain (1967) - Pulitzer Prize

Television, despite its enormous presence, turns out to have added pitifully few lines to the communal memory.

There ought to be something about computers and artificial intelligence. Surely somebody somewhere said something memorable.
- when general editor of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations - 1993 (16th edition)

For years I assumed the shape of a literary biography must imitate the shape of the subject’s life. Then I realized it was more significant to recreate the life’s density, texture, and meaning. 
- 1981 Boston Globe interview - see HERE

I really feel there’s a vaguely religious aspect to biography. Especially with creative people, you’re dealing with sort of a mystery.
- in an interview with Rob Couteau, Kaplan talks about his biography of Walt Whitman

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand...

Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand
On Father's Day in Australia - the father of Romanticism in French literature
Born: September 4th, 1768 - Saint-Malo, France
Died: July 4th, 1848 - Paris, France

non fiction writer
travel writer

You are not superior just because you see the world in an odious light. One only hates mankind and life itself through failing to look deeply enough.

An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate.
- The Genius of Christianity or The Spirit and Beauty of the Christian Religion

Alexander created cities everywhere he passed: I have left dreams everywhere I have trailed my life.
- Mémoires d'Outre-Tombe

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Kiran Desai...

Kiran Desai
(daughter of writer Anita Desai)
Born: September 3rd 1971 - New Delhi, India


You can catch more flies with honey than with sour milk.
- Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard

But Sampath sat in the guava tree, encased in absolute stillness like a forest captured within a quiet moment of amber. 

- Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard

Yes, he was in the right place at last. Tiredness rolled over him like a wave, and closing his eyes, he fell into a deep slumber, lodged in a fork in the guava tree.
- Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard

All day, the colors had been those of dusk, mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of mountains possessed of ocean shadows and depths.
- The Inheritance of Loss 

Why couldn't she be part of that family? rent a room in someone else's life.
- The Inheritance of Loss 

Never again could she think there was but one narrative and that this narrative belonged only to herself, that she might create her own tiny happiness and live safely within it. 
- The Inheritance of Loss

Friday, 2 September 2016

Eugene Field...

Eugene Field
Born: September 2nd, 1850 - Missouri, U.S.
Died: November 4, 1895 - Illinois, U.S.

children's poetry
humorous essays
newspaper columnist

Wynkin', Blynkin', and Nod, one night sailed off in a wooden shoe;
Sailed off on a river of crystal light into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going and what do you wish?" the old moon asked the three.
"We've come to fish for the herring fish that live in this beautiful sea.
Nets of silver and gold have we," said Wynkin', Blynkin', and Nod.
- Wynken, Blynken and Nod

No book can be appreciated until it has been slept with and dreamed over.
- The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Harriet Shaw Weaver...

Harriet Shaw Weaver
Born; September 1st 1876 - UK
Died: October 14th 1961 - UK

magazine editor
political activist

notably, a patron of Irish writer James Joyce...
She serialised A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in The Egoist in 1914
when Joyce could not find a publisher.
The Egotist Press was set up, at Weaver's expense, just to publish Joyce's book.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Amrita Pritam...

Amrita Pritam
Born: 31st August 1919 - British India - now Punjab, Pakistan
Died: 31st October 2005 - Delhi, India


*considered the first prominent female Punjabi writer

Peace is not just the absence of violence. Peace is when the flowers bloom.

When a man denies the power of a woman, he is denying his own subconscious. 

Warish Shah I call out to you, 
Rise from your grave, speak out and turn, 
Another page of the Book of Love

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Mary Shelley...

Born: 30th August, 1797 - UK
Died: February 1, 1851 - UK

short story writer
travel writer

Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.
- Frankenstein

I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine
and rage the likes of which you would not believe.
If I cannot satisy the one, I will indulge the other.
- Frankenstein

Monday, 29 August 2016

Count Maurice...

Count Maurice Maeterlinck
Born: 29th August 1862 - Ghent, Belgium
Died: 6th May 1949 - Nice, France

Nobel Prize winner in Literature - 1911

When we lose someone we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.

Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together ...
- The Treasure of the Humble 

...signs of a life that we cannot explain are everywhere, vibrating by the side of the life of every day.
- The Treasure of the Humble

Sunday, 28 August 2016


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Born: August 28, 1749 - Free City of Frankfurt
Died: March 22, 1832 - Weimar, Germany


A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.
- Faust
All theory is grey, my friend. But forever green is the tree of life.
- Faust

I call architecture frozen music.

The soul that seeks beauty may sometimes walk alone.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

C.S. Forester...

C.S. Forester
Born: August 27, 1899 - Cairo, Egypt
Died: April 2, 1966 - California, U.S.


When a man who is drinking neat gin starts talking about his mother he is past all argument.
- The African Queen

Hornblower worked as hard to conceal his human weaknesses as some men worked to conceal ignoble birth.
- Lieutenant Hornblower

Friday, 26 August 2016

Christopher Isherwood...

Christopher Isherwood
Born: August 26, 1904 - UK
Died: January 4, 1986 - US

One should never write down or up to people, but out of yourself. 

If it’s going to be a world with no time for sentiment, it’s not a world that I want to live in.
 ― A Single Man 

We live in stirring times-  tea-stirring times. 

I have had an unpleasant feeling, such as one has in a dream, that I myself do not exist.
 ―  Goodbye to Berlin
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