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Every change of scene requires new expositions, descriptions, explanations.
– Milan Kundera
A novel that does not uncover a hitherto unknown segment of existence is immoral. Knowledge is the novel’s only morality.
He took over anger to intimidate subordinates, and in time anger took over him.
I find myself fascinating.
Without the meditative background that is criticism, works become isolated gestures, historical accidents, soon forgotten.
Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress.
Only a literary work that reveals an unknown fragment of human existence has a reason for being.
There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels for someone, for someone, pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echos.
Hate traps us by binding us too tightly to our adversary.
The novelist teaches the reader to comprehend the world as a question. There is wisdom and tolerance in that attitude. In a world built on sacrosanct certainties the novel is dead.
The best actors do not let the wheels show.
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.
There are no small parts. Only small actors.
The sound of laughter is like the vaulted dome of a temple of happiness.
Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an esthetic end.
Mysticism and exaggeration go together. A mystic must not fear ridicule if he is to push all the way to the limits of humility or the limits of delight.
Nothing is more repugnant to me than brotherly feelings grounded in the common baseness people see in one another.
Those who consider the Devil to be a partisan of Evil and angels to be warriors for Good accept the demagogy of the angels. Things are clearly more complicated.
The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything.
You can understand nothing about art, particularly modern art, if you do not understand that imagination is a value in itself.
Metaphors are dangerous. Love begins with a metaphor. Which is to say, love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into our poetic memory.
How goodness heightens beauty!
I think I am a much better actor than I have allowed myself to be.
When I was a little boy in short pants, I dreamed about a miraculous ointment that would make me invisible. Then I became an adult, began to write, and wanted to be successful. Now I’m successful and would like to have the ointment that would make me invisible.
No matter how much we scorn it, kitsch is an integral part of the human condition.
The light that radiates from the great novels time can never dim, for human existence is perpetually being forgotten by man and thus the novelists’ discoveries, however old they may be, will never cease to astonish.
Optimism is the opium of the people.
Mankind’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.
All great novels, all true novels, are bisexual.
I am incapable of speaking of myself and of my life and the states of my soul, I am discreet to an almost pathological degree, and there is nothing I can do against that.