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So new, so smooth, my dainty book,
A gift for whom? Cornelius, look,
‘Tis yours: for you in early days
Were ever wont my rhymes to praise.

[Cui dono lepidum novum libellum
arido modo pumice expolitum?
Corneli, tibi; namque tu solebas
meas esse aliquid putare nugas.]

gaius valerius catullus
Catullus (c. 84 BC – c. 54 BC) Latin poet [Gaius Valerius Catullus]
Carmina # 1 “To Cornelius Nepos,” ll. 1-4 [tr. MacNaghten (1925)]
    (Source)

Dedication of the collection (though the canonical collection of Catullus's poems is dubious in its provenance).

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

With pumice dry just polish'd fine,
To whom present this book of mine;
This little volume smart, and new? --
Cornelius, I will give it you:
For then you oft were wont to say
Some trifling merit had my lay.
[tr. Nott (1795)]

My little volume is complete,
With all the care and polish neat
That makes it fair to see:
To whom shall I then, to whose praise,
Inscribe my lively, graceful lays?
Cornelius, friend, to thee.
[tr. Lamb (1821)]

My little volume is complete,
And with the pumice made as neat
As tome need wish to be;
And now what patron shall I choose
For thee gay sallies of my muse?
Cornelius, whom but thee?
For though they are but trifles, thou
Some value didst to them allow.
[tr. T. Martin (1861), st. 1-2]

To what dear friend, say, shall I dedicate
My smart new book, just trimm'd with pumice dry?
To thee, Cornelius -- for, in years gone by,
Thou was accustom'd my light lays to rate
As something more than trifles.
[tr. Cranstoun (1867)]

My little book, that's neat and new,
Fresh polished with dry pumice stone,
To whom, Cornelius, but to you,
Shall this be sent, for you alone --
(Who used to praise my lines, my own) ....
[tr. Lang (1888)]

To thee (Cornelius!); for wast ever fain
To deem my trifles somewhat boon contain.
[tr. Burton (1893)]

To whom inscribe my charming new book -- just out and with ashen pumice polished? Cornelius, to you! for you used to deem my triflings of account.
[tr. Smithers (1894)]

To whom am I to present my pretty new book, freshly smoothed off with dry pumice stone? To you, Cornelius: for you used to think that my trifles were worth something, long ago.
[tr. Warre Cornish (1904)]

To whom shall I offer this book, young and sprightly,
Neat, polished, wide-margined, and finished politely?
To you, my Cornelius ....
[tr. Stewart (1915)]

To whom shall I offer my new little book
Looking as polished as parchment can look?
Cornelius, to thee, for 'twa thou who didst prize
My trifles as something e'en then in thine eyes.
[tr. Symons-Jeune (1923)]

To whom this dainty booklet polished new
With pumice stone? Cornelius, to you.
For you were wont my versicles to praise
As things of value in those bygone days.
[tr. Wright (1926), ch. 3]

Who shall receive my new-born book,
my poems, elegant and shy,
neatly dressed and polished?
You, Cornelius,
shall by my single patron,
for, long ago, you praised my slender lines and stanzas.
[tr. Gregory (1931)]

Whom do I give my neat little volume
slicked dry and made fashionable with pumice?
Cornelius, to you: remindful that you
used to dwell on my scantlings as something great.
[tr. Zukofsky (1959)]

To whom will I give this sophisticated,
abrasively accomplished new collection?
To you, Cornelius! You had the habit
of making much of my poetic little.
[tr. C. Martin (1979)]

To whom do I send this fresh little book
of wit, just polished off with dry pumice?
To you, Cornelius: since you were accustomed
to consider my trifles worth something
even then.
[tr. Kline (2001)]

To whom do I dedicate this charming slim volume,
just now polished with dry pumice stone?
For you Cornelius, for you were accustomed to think
that my scribblings were something.
[tr. Ozlem (2003)]

Who's the dedicatee of my new witty
booklet, all fresh-polished with abrasive?
You, Cornelius: for you always used to
feel my trivia possessed some substance.
[tr. Green (2005)]

To whom to give this charming little book
dryly polished with a pumice stone?
To you, Cornelius: you used to think
my trivial little scribbles worth a look.
[Source (2011)]

Who is it I should give my little book to,
So pretty in its pumice-polished covers?
Cornelius, I'll give my book to you:
Because you used to think my nothings somethings.
[tr. Ferry (2012)]

To whom do I give this pleasing new little book,
Just now smoothed with dry pumice?
To you, Cornelius: For you were accustomed
To consider my trifles to be something.
[tr. Wikibooks (2017)]

To whom do I give this elegant new booklet,
polished just now with dry pumice?
To you, Cornelius! Since you always
thought my doggerel was worth something.
[tr. Wikisource (2018)]

 
Added on 22-Feb-24 | Last updated 22-Feb-24
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Most agree that books worth reading are worth reading more than once.

Holbrook Jackson (1874-1948) English journalist, editor, author
The Anatomy of Bibliomania, Vol. 1, Part 11, ch. 7 “Readers Who Never Weary” (1930)
    (Source)

Often misquoted as "... are worth re-reading."
 
Added on 19-Feb-24 | Last updated 19-Feb-24
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If a book read when young is a lover, that same book, reread later on, is a friend. […] This may sound like a demotion, but after all, it is old friends, not lovers, to whom you are most likely to turn when you need comfort. Fatigue, grief, and illness call for familiarity, not innovation.

Anne Fadiman
Anne Fadiman (b. 1953) American essayist, journalist, literary critic, teacher
Rereadings: Seventeen Writers Revisit Books They Love, Foreword (2005)
 
Added on 15-Jan-24 | Last updated 15-Jan-24
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Your few quatrains are not amiss,
Your couplets too are neat; for this
You earn a mild regard,
But little fame, for many men
Can write good verses now and then —
To make a book is hard.

[Quod non insulse scribis tetrasticha quaedam,
Disticha quod belle pauca, Sabelle, facis,
Laudo, nec admiror. Facile est epigrammata belle
Scribere, sed librum scribere difficile est.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 7, epigram 85 (7.85) (AD 92) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
    (Source)

"To Sabellus." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Cause thou dost pen Tetrasticks clean and sweet
And some few pretty disticks with smooth feet,
I praise but not admire:
Tis easy to acquire
Short modest Epigrams that pretty look,
But it is hard and tough to write a book.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

That some tetrasticks not amiss you write,
Or some few disticks prettyly indite,
I like, but not admire. With small paynes tooke
An epigram is writ; but not a booke.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Some not absurd tetrastichs thou may'st squeeze;
And distichs, that can scarce deny to please.
I praise, yet not admire: a verse to cook
Is no hard task; but canst thou write a book?
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 3, ep. 54]

For sometimes writing quatrains which are not devoid of humour, Sabellus, and for composing a few distichs prettily, I commend you; but I am not astonished at you. It is easy to write a few epigrams prettily; but to write a book of them is difficult.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Your writing, not without wit, certain quatrains, your composing nicely a few distichs, Sabellus, I applaud, yet am not surprised. 'Tis easy to write epigrams nicely, but to write a book is hard.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

The fact that you can write with taste
A quatrain now and then
And even several couplets too
Is something I do commend,
But I'm not amazed, for after all
A few epigrams smart and neat
Are easy to write, but a bookful of them
Is quite another feat!
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

That you write some quatrains not without wit and turn a few couplets prettily, Sabellus, is something I praise but do not wonder at. It's easy to write epigrams prettily, but to write a book is hard.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

A quatrain here, a couplet there,
Some decent rhymes, but let's be fair:
Your output no great author shook;
It takes much more to fill a book.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

You wrote some clever couplets?
"Take a look."
These epigrams are fine --
but not a book.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Sabellus, that you write some witty quatrains
and craft some couplets well earns my regard,
but no surprise. To write good epigrams
is easy, but to write a book is hard.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

 
Added on 7-Jul-23 | Last updated 27-Nov-23
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A reference or teaching book is only as good as its index.

Julia Child
Julia Child (1912-2004) American chef and writer
The Way to Cook, Foreword (1989)
    (Source)
 
Added on 22-Jun-23 | Last updated 22-Jun-23
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Gustave Dore – Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto 5 “The Souls of Paolo and Francesca” (1857)
Gustave Dore – Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto 5 “The Souls of Paolo and Francesca” (1857)

One day together, for pastime, we read
Of Lancelot, and how Love held him in thrall.
We were alone, and without any dread.
Sometimes our eyes, at the word’s secret call,
Met, and our cheeks a changing color wore.
But it was one page only that did all.
When we read how that smile, so thirsted for,
Was kissed by such a lover, he that may
Never from me be separated more
All trembling kissed my mouth. The book I say
Was a Galahalt to us, and he beside
that wrote that book. We read no more that day.

[Noi leggiavamo un giorno per diletto
di Lancialotto come amor lo strinse;
soli eravamo e sanza alcun sospetto.
Per più fïate li occhi ci sospinse
quella lettura, e scolorocci il viso;
ma solo un punto fu quel che ci vinse.
Quando leggemmo il disïato riso
esser basciato da cotanto amante,
questi, che mai da me non fia diviso,
la bocca mi basciò tutto tremante.
Galeotto fu ‘l libro e chi lo scrisse:
quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 5, l. 127ff (5.127-138) [Francesca] (1309) [tr. Binyon (1943)]
    (Source)

In the Old French romance of Lancelot du Lac they were reading, Sir Gallehault (spelled variously) serves as go-between for Lancelot and Guinevere (a couple not able to express their love because of her marriage to King Arthur), and ultimately persuades the Queen to give Lancelot a first, dooming kiss. Similarly, Paolo was the intermediary to arrange the marriage of his brother, Gianciotto, and Francesca. After the marriage, reading together that racy tale of Lancelot seduced Paolo and Francesca into pursuing their carnal affair.

The Italian form of Gallehault -- "Galeotto" or "Galleot" -- became Middle Ages Italian slang for a panderer or pimp, and Francesca draws on this meaning in her chat with the Pilgrim, blaming the book and its writer for her damning sins with Paolo. See also, earlier, here.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

Together we, for pleasure, one day read
How strictly Lancelot was bound by love;
We, then alone, without suspicion were:
T'admire each other, often from the book
Our eyes were ta'en, and oft our colour chang'd;
That was the point of time which conqurer'd us,
When, reading that her captivating smile
Was by the Lover the adored kiss'd;
This, my Companion, always with me seen,
Fearful, and trembling, also kiss'd my mouth.
The Writer, Galeotto, nam;d the Book.
But from that day we never read in't more.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 113ff]

One day (a day I ever must deplore!)
The gentle youth, to spend a vacant hour,
To me the soft seducing story read,
Of Launcelot and fair Geneura's love,
While fascinating all the quiet grove
Fallacious Peace her snares around us spread.
Too much I found th' insidious volume charm,
And Paulo's mantling blushes rising warm;
Still as he read the guilty secret told:
Soon from the line his eyes began to stray;
Soon did my yielding looks my heart betray,
Nor needed words our wishes to unfold.
Eager to realize the story'd bless,
Trembling he snatch'd the half resented kiss,
To ill soon lesson'd by the pandar-page!
Vile pandar-page! it smooth'd the paths of shame.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 24-26]

One day
For our delight we read of Lancelot,
How him love thrall’d. Alone we were, and no
Suspicion near us. Ofttimes by that reading
Our eyes were drawn together, and the hue
Fled from our alter’d cheek. But at one point
Alone we fell. When of that smile we read,
The wished smile, rapturously kiss’d
By one so deep in love, then he, who ne’er
From me shall separate, at once my lips
All trembling kiss’d. The book and writer both
Were love’s purveyors. In its leaves that day
We read no more.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

'Twas on a day when we for pastime read
Of Lancelot, whom love ensnared to ruin:
We were alone, nor knew suspicious dread.
That lesson oft, the conscious look renewing,
Held us suspense, and turned our cheeks to white;
But one sole moment wrought for our undoing:
When of the kiss we read, from smile so bright.
So coveted, that such true-lover bore.
He, from my side who ne'er may disunite,
Kissed me upon the mouth, trembling all o'er.
The broker of our Vows, it was the lay,
And he who wrote -- that day we read no more.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

One day, for pastime, wwe read of Lancelot, how love restrained him; we were alone, and without all suspicion.
Several times that reading urged our eyes to meet, and changed the color of our faces; but one moment alone it was that overcame us.
When we read how the fond smile was kissed by such a lover, he, who shall never be divided from me,
kissed my mouth all trembling: the book, and he who wrote it, was a Galeotto; that day we read in it no farther.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

We were reading one day, for our delight,
In Lancilotto, bound in love so strict.
We were alone, and neither could suspect
Suspended were our eyes, and more than once,
In reading, and the visage colorless;
One point it was lone that conquered us.
When we read first of that -- the longed-for smile
At being kissed by one who loved so well;
Galeotti was the book -- he wrote it:
That Day we read not there any farther.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

One day we read, to pass a pleasant time,
How Lancelot was bound in chains of love;
Alone we were and no suspicion knew.
often we sigh'd; and as we read our eyes
Each other sought, the color fled our cheeks;
But we were vanquish'd by one point alone.
When we had read how the smile long desir'd
Was kiss'd by him who lov'd with such deep love,
This one, from me no more to be apart,
Trembling all over, kiss'd me on the mouth.
Galeotto was the writer and the book;
In it we read no further on that day.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

One day we reading were for our delight
⁠Of Launcelot, how Love did him enthrall.
⁠Alone we were and without any fear.
Full many a time our eyes together drew
⁠That reading, and drove the color from our faces;
⁠But one point only was it that o'ercame us.
Whenas we read of the much longed-for smile
⁠Being by such a noble lover kissed,
⁠This one, who ne'er from me shall be divided,
Kissed me upon the mouth all palpitating.
⁠Galeotto was the book and he who wrote it.
⁠That day no farther did we read therein.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

We were reading one day, for delight, of Lancelot, how Love constrained him; alone were we, and without any suspicion. Many times did that reading impel our eyes, and change the hue of our visages; but one point only was it that overcame us. When we read that the wished-for smile was kissed by such a lover, this one who never from me shall be parted kissed me on the mouth all trembling. A Gallehault was the book, and he who wrote it. That day we read no further in it.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

We read one day for pleasure, in the song
Of Launcelot, how Love him captive made;
We were alone without one thought of wrong.
Many and many a time our eyes delayed
The reading, and our faces paled apart;
One point alone it was that us betrayed.
In reading of that worshipt smile o' the heart,
Kissed by such lover on her lips' red core.
This one, who never more from me must part,
Kissed me upon the mouth, trembling all o'er:
For us our Galeotto was that book;
That day we did not read it any more.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

We were reading one day, for delight, of Lancelot, how love constrained him. We were alone and without any suspicion. Many times that reading made us lift our eyes, and took the color from our faces, but only one point was that which overcame us. When we read of the longed-for smile being kissed by such a lover, this one, who never from me shall be divided, kissed my mouth all trembling. Galahaut was the book, and he who wrote it. That day we read in it no farther.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

We read one day, to while the hour, of Lancelot, how love enthralled him: we were alone, with never a thought of harm. And oft and oft that reading brought our eyes together and drave the colour to our cheeks ; but one point, only one, it was that overcame us. When that we came to read of how the smiling lips he loved were kissed by lover such as he, he that no more shall e'er be parted from me, kissed my mouth trembling through. Our Galahad was the book and he that penned it: that day we read in it no more.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

One day, by way of pastime, we were reading
Of Lancelot, how love in fetters held him:
We were alone, and without thought of danger.
Full often did that reading bring together
Our glances, and made colourless our visage;
But just one point was that which overcame us:
When as we read how that the smile much longed for
Was kissed by one so passionately loving,
He who from me shall never be divided
Kissed me upon the mouth, all, all a-quiver: --
A Galehalt was the book and he who wrote it: --
Upon that day we read therein no further.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

We read one day for pastime of Lancelot, how love constrained him. We were alone and had no misgiving. Many times that reading drew our eyes together and changed the color in our faces, but one point alone it was that mastered us; when we read that the longed-fro smile was kissed by so great a lover, he who never shall be parted from me, all trembling, kissed my mouth. A Galeotto was the book and he that wrote it; that day we read in it no farther.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

One day we read for pastime how in thrall
Lord Lancelot lay to love, who loved the Queen;
We were alone -- we thought no harm at all.
As we read on, our eyes met now and then,
And to our cheeks the changing color started,
But just one moment overcame us -- when
We read of the smile, desired of lips long-thwarted,
Such smile, by such a lover kissed away,
He that may never more from me be parted
Trembling all over, kissed my mouth. I say
The book was Galleot, Galleot the complying
Ribald who wrote; we read no more that day.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

One day for dalliance we read the rhyme
of Lancelot, how love had mastered him.
We were alone with innocence and dim time.
Pause after pause that high old story drew
our eyes together while we blushed and paled;
but it was one soft passage overthrew
our caution and our hearts. For when we read
how her fond smile was kissed by such a lover,
he who is one with me alive and dead
breathed on my lips the tremor of his kiss.
That book, and he who wrote it, was a pander.
That day we read no further.
[tr. Ciardi (1954), l. 124ff]

One day, for pastime, we reqd of Lancelot, how love constrained him; we were alone, suspecting nothing. Several times that reading urged our eyes to meet and too the color from our faces, but one moment alone it was that overcame us. When we read how the longed-for smile was kissed by so great a lover, this one, who never shll be parted from me, kissed my mouth all trembling. A Gallehault was the book and he who wrote it; that day we read no farther in it.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

One day we read, to pass the time away,
of Lancelot, how he had fallen in love;
we were alone, innocent of suspicion.
Time and again our eyes were brought together
by the book we read; our faces flushed and paled.
To the moment of one line alone we yielded:
it was when we read about those longed-for lips
now being kissed by such a famous lover,
that this one (who shall never leave my side)
then kissed my mouth, and trembled as he did.
The book and its author was our galehot!
That day we read no further.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

One day, to pass the time away, we read
of Lancelot -- how love had overcome him.
We were alone, and we suspected nothing.
And time and time again that reading led
our eyes to meet, and made our faces pale,
and yet one point alone defeated us.
When we had read how the desired smile
was kissed by one who was so true a lover,
this one, who never shall be parted from me,
while all his body trembled, kissed my mouth.
A Gallehault indeed, that book and he
who wrote it, too; that day we read no more.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

One day, when we were reading, for distraction,
How Lancelot was overcome by love --
We were alone, without any suspicion;
Several times, what we were reading forced
Our eyes to meet, and then we changed color:
But one page only was more than we could bear.
When we read how that smile, so much desired,
Was kissed by such a lover, in the book,
He, who will never be divided from me,
Kissed my mouth, he was trembling as he did so;
The book, the writer played the part of Galahalt:
That day we got no further with our reading.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

One day, for pleasure,
We read of Lancelot, by love constrained:
Alone, suspecting nothing, at our leisure.
Sometimes at what we read our glances joined,
Looking from the book each to the other's eyes,
And then the color in our faces drained.
But one particular moment alone it was
Defeated us: the longed-for smile, it said,
Was kissed by that most noble lover: at this,
This one, who now will never leave my side,
Kissed my mouth, trembling. A Galeotto, that book!
And so was he who wrote it; that day we read
No further.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 112ff]

We were reading one day, for pleasure, of Lancelot, how Love beset him; we were alone and without any suspicion.
Many times that reading drove our eyes together and turned our faces pale; but one point alone was the one that overpowered us.
When we read that the yearned-for smile was kissed by so great a lover, he, who will never be separated from me,
kissed my mouth all trembling. Galeotto was the book and he who wrote it: that day we read there no further.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

We read, one day, to our delight, of Lancelot and how love constrained him: we were alone and without suspicion. Often those words urged our eyes to meet, and coloured our cheeks, but it was a single moment that undid us. When we read how that lover kissed the beloved smile, he who will never be separated from me, kissed my mouth all trembling. That book was a Galeotto, a pandar, and he who wrote it: that day we read no more.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

One day, to pass the time, we read of
Lancelot, who loved illicitly.
Just the two of us; we had not thought of what, as yet, was not.
From time to time that reading urged our eyes to meet.
and made our faces flush and pale,
but one point in the story changed our lives;
for when we read of how the longed-for smile
was kissed by such a noble knight,
the one who for eternity is by my side all trembling
kissed my trembling mouth.
The man who wrote this was a Galeotto; so was the book.
That day the rest of it remained unscanned.
[tr. Carson (2002)]

One day we read together for pure joy
how Lancelot was taken in Love's palm.
We were alone. We knew no suspicion.
Time after time, the words we read would lift
our eyes and drawn all color from our faces.
A single point, however, vanquished us.
For when at last we read the longed-for smile
of Guinevere -- at last her lover kissed --
he, who from me will never now depart,
touched his kiss, trembling to my open mouth.
This book was Galehault -- pander-penned, the pimp!
That day we read no further down those lines.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

One day, to pass the time in pleasure,
we read of Lancelot, how love enthralled him.
We were alone, without the least misgiving.
More than once that reading made our eyes meet
and drained the color from our faces.
Still, it was a single instant overcame us:
When we read how the longed-for smile
was kissed by so renowned a lover, this man,
who never shall be parted from me,
all trembling, kissed me on my mouth.
A Galeotto was the book and he that wrote it.
That day we read in it no further.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

One day we read the story of Lancelot
And how his love attacked and held him tight.
We were alone and unaware of our thoughts.
More than once the story forced our eyes
To meet, and as we looked our faces turned pale,
But just one single moment hung and decided
Us. We read how a smile we longed for stayed
On her lips until the greatest of lovers kissed them,
And then this man, who cannot be taken away
From me, kissed my mouth, his body trembling.
A famous go-between had written that tale.
That day, our time for reading suddenly ended.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

One day, to amuse ourselves, we were reading
The tales of love-struck Lancelot; we were all alone,
And naively unaware of what could happen.
More than once, while reading, we looked up
And saw the other looking back. We'd blush, then pale,
Then look down again. Until a moment did us in.
We were reading about the longed-for kiss
The great lover gives his Guinevere, when that one
From whom I'll now never be parted,
Trembling, kissed my lips.
That author and his book played the part
Of Gallehault. We read no more that day.
[tr. Bang (2012)]

Reading together one day for delight
Or Lancelot, caught up in Love's sweet snare,
We were alone, with no thought of what might
Occur to us, although we stopped to stare
Sometimes at what we read, and even paled.
But then the moment came we turned a page
And all our powers of resistance failed:
When we read of that great knight in a rage
To kiss the smile he so desired. Paolo,
This one so quiet now, made my mouth still --
Which, loosened by those words, had trembled so --
With his mouth. And right then we lost the will --
For Love can will will's loss, as well you know --
To read on. But let that man take a bow
Who wrote the book we called our Galahad,
The reason nothing can divide us now.
[tr. James (2013), l. 149ff]

 
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A book read by a thousand different people is a thousand different books.

Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) Russian film director, screenwriter, film theorist [Андрей Арсеньевич Тарковский]
Sculpting in Time (1986) [tr. Hunter-Blair]
    (Source)
 
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Whoa, little book! Slow up! Easy there! Steady!
We’ve reached the finishing post, yet you’re still ready
To gallop uncontrollably on, to run
Past the last page, as if your job weren’t done.
(I’d have called it a day after page one!)
My reader’s fed up now, about to drop,
And my copyist, who longs to shut up shop,
Agrees: “Whoa, little book! Enough! Full stop!”

[Ohe, iam satis est, ohe, libelle,
Iam pervenimus usque ad umbilicos.
Tu procedere adhuc et ire quaeris,
Nec summa potes in schida teneri,
5Sic tamquam tibi res peracta non sit,
Quae prima quoque pagina peracta est.
Iam lector queriturque deficitque,
Iam librarius hoc et ipse dicit
“Ohe, iam satis est, ohe, libelle.”]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, epigram 89 (4.89) (AD 89) [tr. Michie (1972)]
    (Source)

The last epigram in Book 4.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Oh, 't is enough, it is enough, my book;
Upon the utmost page thou now dost look.
Would'st thou swell further yet? yet larger be?
Not leave thy paragraphs and margins free?
As if to some known period thou didst tend,
When ev'ry epigram may be thy end.
Reader and printer tired, no more can brook;
'T is time thyself pronounce the last line strook.
Oh, 't is enough, oh, 't is enough, my book.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Enough, enough! little book! we have already reached the end of the parchment. You would still go on, and add to your bulk, and cannot confine yourself within due limits; just as if you had not done enough, when you had completed the first page. The reader is now quite querulous, and out of patience; the librarius himself now cries out, "Enough, enough, little book."
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

Ho, there! Ho, there! 'tis now enough, my little book. We have now come to the very end: you still want to go on further and continue, and cannot be held in even in your last strip, just as if your task was not finished -- which was finished, too, on the first page! Already my reader is grumbling and giving in; already even my scribe says: "Ho, there! Ho, there! 'tis enough now, little book."
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Hold, little book, enough, enough!
Here is the end of the scroll and thee;
Stay thy course ere the path grow rough,
Keep thy bounds for thou art not free,
Many thy sheets, though one should be
Ample space for thy sorry stuff.
Hold, little book, enough, enough!
Here is the end of the scroll and thee.
Wearied readers are harsh and gruff,
Now are they tired of thee and me;
Soon thou shalt meet a rude rebuff,
List to the worn-out scrivener’s plea;
‘Hold, little book, enough, enough!’
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "Finis"]

We've filled the scroll; "Hold, hold, enough!" I say,
But still you want to plod your inky way.
Heighho! 'tis finis, and the gap to fill
One page was plenty, yet you're restless still.
The reader flags and grumbles at the stuff,
And now the very penman cries "Enough."
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), No. 214]

Hold it, book, that's enough!
We've come to the knob at the end of the roll.
You object? And want to keep going right on
And can't sit still cooped up in the last column
on the last leaf? As though for you the work wasn't done
that was done when the first page was over and gone.
Your reader is tired, he's getting gruff,
the bookseller is losing interest in your stuff:
Hold it, book, that's enough!
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Whoa, little book! Slow up! Easy there! Steady!
We've reached the finishing post, yet you're still ready
To gallop uncontrollably on, to run
Past the last page, as if your job weren't done.
(I'd have called it a day after page one!)
My reader's fed up now, about to drop,
And my copyist, who longs to shut up shop,
Agrees: "Whoa, little book! Enough! Full stop!"
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Whoa, there's enough, whoa now, little book! We have got to the bosses. But you want to go on further and keep going, there's no holding you at the final sheet, as though you had not finished the business which was finished even on page one. Already the reader grows querulous and weary, already the very copyist says "Whoa, there's enough, whoa now, little book!"
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Hey, you're stuffed, little book, give it a rest.
You've reached the end-papers and still have zest!
What on earth makes you yet want to let go,
When "misfire" our verse reeked from the get-go?
Zip it, my pages, let's call a "time out";
We've hit the back cover -- and still you'd spout?
Look, the reader's pissed and quite unimpressed;
Even our publisher calls you a pest:
"Hey, you're stuffed, little book, give it a rest!"
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

Slow down, my book, don't race beyond the goal
Or keep on trotting like a frisky foal.
You've used up all the paper in this roll.
Continuing, you'd make me lose control.
The reader says you might have gone too far,
My scribe says, "Hold your horses where they are."
[tr. Wills (2007)]

 
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Lest all overlook so tiny a book
And brevity lead to its loss,
I will not refuse such padding to use
As “Τὸν δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.”

[Edita ne brevibus pereat mihi cura libellis,
Dicatur potius Τὸν δ᾽ ἀπαμειβόμενος.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 45 (1.45) (AD 85-86) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921), “Poet’s Padding”]
    (Source)

Using a phrase ("to him in answer" or "answering him") that is repeated many, many times in Homer's epics, The Odyssey and The Iliad. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Lest, in air, the mere lightness my distics should toss;
I'd rather sing δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.216]

That the care which I have bestowed upon what I have published may not come to nothing through the smallness of my volumes, let me rather fill up my verses with Τὸν δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Lest his pains should be lost by publishing too short a book, he will fill it up with repetitions, like Homer's well-known verse.
[tr. Paley/Stone (1890)]

That my labor be not lost because published in tiny volumes, rather let there be added Τὸν δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

For fear my fount of poetry run dry
"Him answering" is still my cuckoo-cry.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 24]

To keep my little books from dropping dead
of brevity, I could pad with "... then he said."
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Rather than have my work published in small volumes and so go to waste, let me say "to him in answer."
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

 
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Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
(Attributed)
 
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Me kindly Rome loves, quotes my books, and buys them;
But till that critic feigning to despise them
Blushed and turned pale, then yawned and looked confounded,
I never felt my fame was surely grounded.

[Laudat, amat, cantat nostros mea Roma libellos,
Meque sinus omnes, me manus omnis habet.
Ecce rubet quidam, pallet, stupet, oscitat, odit.
Hoc volo: nunc nobis carmina nostra placent.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 6, epigram 60 (6.60) (AD 91) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Rome lauds, & loves, & reades my works,
and singes them every where:
Each fist doth hld me clutched fast,
eache bosome me doth beare.
One bluseth lo, as red as fyre,
anone as pale as claye:
Anone he looks astonished,
as one did hym dismaye:
Sometime he mumping mockes and moes,
sometime he doth repine:
Ymarrie, this is that I would:
now please me verses mine.
[tr. Kendall (1577)]

Rome hugs my verse, and cries up for rare,
My books each hand and ev'ry bosom bear;
There's one yet lowers, disdains, is ill at ease:
I'm glad; my verses now myself do please.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

The town beloves, applauds, attunes my strains;
Each hand engrasps them, and each bosom gains:
See one change color, grin, and gape with hate!
This crowns my wish: be this my Muse's fate.
[tr. Elphinston (1782)], Book 2, ep. 16]

Rome, city of my affections, praises, loves, and recites my compositions;
I am in every lap, and in every hand.
But see, yon gentleman grows red and pale by turns, looks amazed, yawns, and, in fact, hates me.
I am delighted at the sight; my writings now please me.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859), ep. 61]

Quite friendly, Rome applauds my lay;
dotes on it, quotes it day by day.
My verses every pocket fill,
And every hand bethumbs me still.
See, yonder man turns red and white,
Winces, and yawns disgusted quite.
This I enjoy; by this I tell
That now my verses please me well.
[tr. Webb (1879), ep. 61]

My Rome praises, loves, and hums my verses,
and every pocket, every hand holds me.
See, yonder fellow turns red, turns pale, is dazed, yawns, curses! v This is what I want; now my verses please me!
[tr. Ker (1919)]

All Rome extols and loves and quotes my lines
And every bosom holds them, every hand;
See one that reddens, pales, yawns, stares and pines.
Ah! now at last their worth I understand.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #306 (ep. 6.61), "A Hit"]

Rome praises, loves, and sings my little verses;
They're in all hands, all pockets, and all purses.
Look there! One blushes, pales, gasps, yawns, and curses.
That's what I want! I'm happy with my verses.
[tr. Barth (1988)]

All Rome is mad about my book:
It's praised, they hum the lines, shops stock it,
It peeps from every hand and pocket.
There's a man reading it! Just look --
He blushes, turns pale, reels, yawns, curses.
That's what I'm after. Bravo, verses!
[tr. Michie (1972)]

My Rome praises my little books, loves them, recites them; I am in every pocket, every hand. Look, somebody turns red, turns pale, is dazed, yawns, is disgusted. This I want. Now my poems please me.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

For my small books Rome's gone utterly mad;
I'm quite ubiquitous -- call it a fad.
Look, there -- see that fellow, leafing, curious.
First he blushes deeply, then he's furious;
A moment later his eyes glaze over;
He yawns, flips a page, then reels in horror.
This mercurial response I thrill to see;
Why, then my epigrams even please me!
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

Rome praises, loves, and quotes my little books,
I’m there in every pocket, every hand.
See them blush, turn white, stunned, yawn, disgusted.
I like it: now’s when my poems give me delight.
[tr. Kline (2006)]

He reads my verses, just to be in fashion.
But finds himself whipsawed by sudden passion.
He frowns, then chortles -- chokes at what he reads --
And calls them the most infamous of screeds,
Then he goes pale, as under some indicting --
You've got him, poems! That's what I call writing.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Rome praises, loves, recites my little books.
I'm carried in each hand or pocket. See!
Someone blushes, gapes, yawns, or hates it.
That's what I want: my verse now pleases me.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

My Rome praises, loves and quotes my books,
which fill all pockets and all hands.
Readers blush, then pale, look dazed, curse, swear.
Yes! Yes! This is what I’d always planned.
[tr. Matthews]

 
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Some judge books by their thickness, as though they had been written to exercise the arms, instead of the mind.

[Estiman algunos los libros por la corpulencia, como si se escriviessen para exercitar antes los braços que los ingenios.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 27 (1647) [tr. Fischer (1937)]
    (Source)

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

Some value Books for their bulk, as if they were made rather to load the Arms than to exercise the mind.
[Flesher ed. (1685)]

Some reckon books by the thickness, as if they were written to try the brawn more than the brain.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

Some praise books for their girth, as if they were written to exercise our arms, not our wits.
[tr. Maurer (1992)]

 
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Good work you’ll find, some poor, and much that’s worse,
It takes all sorts to make a book of verse.

[Sunt bona, sunt quaedam mediocria, sunt mala plura
quae legis hic: aliter non fit, Avite, liber.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 16 (1.16) (AD 85-86) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
    (Source)

"To Avitus." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Some things are good, indifferent some, some naught,
You read: a book can't otherwise be wrote.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

Here's some good things, some middling, more bad, you will see:
Else a book, my Avitus, it never could be.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.6]

Some of my epigrams are good, some moderately so, more bad: there is no other way, Avitus, of making a book.
[tr. Amos (1858), 2.23 (cited as 1.17)]

Of the epigrams which you read here, some are good, some middling, many bad: a book, Avitus, cannot be made in any other way.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Here you will read some few good things, while some
Are mediocre, most are bad: 'tis thus
That every book's compiled.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

There are good things, there are some indifferent, there are more things bad that you read here. Not otherwise, Avitus, is a book produced.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Good work you’ll find, some poor, and much that’s worse;
It takes all sorts to make a book of verse.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Some things are good, some fair, but more you'll say
Are bad herein -- all books are made that way!
[tr. Duff (1929)]

Some of these epigrams are good,
Some mediocre, many bad.
Otherwise, it is understood,
A bookful of poems cannot be had.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Among these lines you'll find a few
that are rather good, more that are only fair,
and a lot that are bad.
From that, Avitus, it may be deduced
just how a book is produced.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Some good, some middling, and some bad
You’ll find here. They are what I had.
[tr. Cunningham (1971)]

Some lines in here are good, some fair,
And most are frankly rotten;
No other kind of book, Avitus,
Can ever be begotten.
[tr. Wender (1980)]

There are good things that you read here, and some indifferent, and more bad. Not otherwise, Avitus, is a book made.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Some good things here, and some not worth a look.
For this is that anomaly, a book.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Some of my poems are good, some
not up to scratch, some
bad.
That’s how it is with most books,
if the truth were told.
Who tells the truth about truth, my dear?
Make way for the judge and the jester.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "How It Is"]

You'll read some good things here, some fair, more worse.
There's no way else to make a book of verse.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

You're reading good poems here, Avitus -- and a few that are so-so, and a lot that are bad; a book doesn't happen any other way.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Some good, some so-so, most of them naught!
Well, if not worse, the book may still be bought.
[Anon.]

 
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There is a pleasure unknown to the landsman in reading at sea.

William McFee (1881-1966) English writer
“Something to Read,” Harper’s #829 (Jun 1919)
    (Source)
 
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More books have resulted from somebody’s need to write than from anybody’s need to read.

Ashleigh Brilliant (b. 1933) Anglo-American epigramist, aphorist, cartoonist
Pot-Shots, #3273
    (Source)
 
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Someday I hope to write a book where the royalties will pay for the copies I give away.

Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) American lawyer
(Attributed)
 
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A novel which survives, which withstands and outlives time, does do something more than merely survive. It does not stand still. It accumulates round itself the understanding of all these persons who bring to it something of their own. It acquires associations, it becomes a form of experience in itself, so that two people who meet can often make friends, find an approach to each other, because of this one great common experience they have had.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) Irish author
“Truth and Fiction,” BBC Radio (Oct 1956)
    (Source)
 
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What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.

J. D. Salinger (1919-2010) American writer [Jerome David Salinger]
The Catcher in the Rye, ch. 3 (1951)
 
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There are books one needs maturity to enjoy, just as there are books an adult can come on too late to savor.

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978) American author, poet
“The Consolations of Illiteracy,” Saturday Review (1 Aug 1953)
    (Source)

Reprinted in The Province of the Heart (1959).
 
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“Classic.” A book which people praise and don’t read.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 25, epigraph (1897)
    (Source)
 
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Yet soft, my books, no haste, nor hurry fate;
If fame must wait on death, then let it wait.

[Vos tamen o nostri ne festinate libelli:
Si post fata venit gloria, non propero.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 10 (5.10.11-12) (AD 90) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
    (Source)

Compare to Epigram 1.25.

"To Regulus." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

But haste not you (my Bookes) for Fame, to whom
Tis soone enough if after death it come.
[tr. May (1629)]

Let others to the Printing Presse run fast.
Since after death comes glory, Ile not haste.
[tr. Herrick (1648)]

O my small books, ne'er hasten to go out:
If praise come after death, I'll not go on.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

Yet you (my Bookes!) hast not to much, I pray:
If fame come not till after death, I'll stay.
[British Library MS Add. 27343]

With patience then, my Muse, to glory hy:
If after death she come, I shall not dy.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 3.62]

Do not, however, you little books of mine, be in haste for fame:
if glory comes only after death, I am in no hurry for it.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

If I gain fame after my death, I am content to wait.
[tr. Paley/Stone (1890), ep. 221]

Therefore, little books of mine,
Haste not; if glory comes but after death,
I'll wait awhile for glory.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

Pray, my impatient Muse, don't worry.
If death's due first, I'm in no hurry.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 221]

Impatient little books of verse
For the plaudits of the universe,
If fame comes only after death,
Let's pause and rest, and catch our breath.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

But there's no cause, my little books, to worry:
If glory must be posthumous, why hurry?
[tr. Michie (1972)]

So, little books, let's not rush to our fate.
Since death comes before glory, let's be late.
[tr. Matthews (1992)]

So be calm, my Muse -- no need to rush or fret:
If death must precede fame, I'll not be famous yet.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

If I must die to get my fame,
I gladly will put off the same.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Then be content, my books, to be slow paced;
Death before glory means -- no need for haste.
[tr. Pitt-Kethley (2008)]

But you, my little books, don’t hurry:
if glory comes only after death, I will not rush.
[tr. Robinson (2022)]

If glory comes after death, I hurry not.
[tr. Rush]

 
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How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American philosopher and writer
Walden, ch. 1 “Reading” (1854)
    (Source)
 
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When you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life.

Christopher Morley (1890-1957) American journalist, novelist, essayist, poet
Parnassus on Wheels, ch. 4 (1917)
    (Source)
 
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I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go into the library and read a good book.

Groucho Marx (1890-1977) American comedian [b. Julius Henry Marx]
“King Leer,” Tele-Views (Sep 1950)

Commonly paraphrased: "I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on, I go into another room and read a good book." A number of uses of this line by Marx are found around the same time frame, with variant wordings. See here for more discussion.
 
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The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under the lamp, a book spread out before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known.

Yoshida Kenkō (1284-1350) Japanese author and Buddhist monk [吉田 兼好]
Essays in Idleness [Tsurezuregusa] (c. 1330)
 
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Take a book, the poorest one written, but read it with the passion that it is the only book you will read — ultimately you will read everything out of it, that is, as much as there was in yourself, and you could never get more out of reading, even if you read the best of books.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Danish philosopher, theologian
Stages on Life’s Way (1845)
 
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It is just those books which a man possesses, but does not read, which constitute the most suspicious evidence against him.

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French writer
Toilers of the Sea, Book 1, ch. 4 (1866)
 
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If you would understand your own age, read the works of fiction produced in it. People in disguise speak freely.

Arthur Helps (1813-1875) English writer and bureaucrat
Thoughts in the Cloister and the Cloud(1835)
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Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 19-Nov-21
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This book fills a much-needed gap.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Moses Hadas (1900-1966), Professor, Columbia University (Attributed)
 
Added on 17-Nov-16 | Last updated 17-Nov-16
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While the spoken word can travel faster, you can’t take it home in your hand. Only the written word can be absorbed wholly at the convenience of the reader.

Kingman Brewster, Jr. (1919-1988) American educator, diplomat
“The Enduring American Press” symposium, Harvard (30 Oct 1964)
 
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A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.

chesterton-good-novel-truth-bad-novel-truth-wist_info-quote

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
Heretics, ch. 15 “On Smart Novelists and the Smart Set” (1905)
    (Source)
 
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We are as liable to be corrupted by our books as by our companions.

Henry Fielding (1707-1754) English novelist, dramatist, satirist
“A Fragment of a Comment on Lord Bolingbroke’s Essays” (1755)
 
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In a book, all would have gone according to plan. … but life was so fucking untidy — what could you say for an existence where some of your most crucial conversations of your life took place when you needed to take a shit, or something? An existence where there weren’t even any chapters?

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
Misery (1987)
 
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Books are the quietest and most constant of friends, and the most patient of teachers.

Charles William Eliot (1834-1926) American academic
“The Durable Satisfactions of Life,” speech, Harvard University (3 Oct 1905)
 
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There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away,
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing poetry.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) American poet
“There is no Frigate like a Book,” ll. 1-4 (c. 1873)
    (Source)
 
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A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity, and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) Canadian author, editor, publisher
“Too Much, Too Fast,” Peterborough Examiner (Canada) (1962-06-16)
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Wouldst thou find my ashes? Look
In the pages of my book;
And, as these thy hands doth turn,
Know here is my funeral urn.

Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914) American poet
“The Immortal Residue” (1915)
 
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The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self-activity.

Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish essayist and historian
(Attributed)

Quoted in James Wood (ed.), Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern, English and Foreign Sources (1893).
 
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The covers of this book are too far apart.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
(Attributed)

One-sentence book review. First attributed to Bierce in 1923, but showing up in anonymous humor as early as 1899. See here for more information.
 
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What havoc has been made of Books through every Century of the Christian Æra? Where are fifty Gospells condemned as spurious by the Bull of Pope Gelasius. Where are the forty Waggon Loads of Hebrew Manuscripts burned in France by order of another Pope, because suspected of Heresy? Remember the Index expurgatorius, the Inquisitions, the Stake, the Axe the halter and the Guillotine; and Oh! horrible the Rack. This is as bad if not worse than a slow fire.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to John Taylor (14 Dec 1814)
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I suppose every old scholar has had the experience of reading something in a book which was significant to him, but which he could never find again. Sure he is that he read it there, but no one else ever read it, nor can he find it again, though he buy the book and ransack every page.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1867-07-02, after)
 
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Next to doing things that deserve to be written, there is nothing that gets a man more credit, or gives him more pleasure, than to write things that deserve to be read.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #44 (1740?)
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Although my book is intended mainly for the entertainment of boys and girls, I hope it will not be shunned by men and women on that account, for part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Preface (1876)
 
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I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? … We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.

[Ich glaube, man sollte überhaupt nur solche Bücher lesen, die einen beißen und stechen. Wenn das Buch, das wir lesen, uns nicht mit einem Faustschlag auf den Schädel weckt, wozu lesen wir dann das Buch? Damit es uns glücklich macht, wie Du schreibst? Mein Gott, glücklich wären wir eben auch, wenn wir keine Bücher hätten, und solche Bücher, die uns glücklich machen, könnten wir zur Not selber schreiben. Wir brauchen aber die Bücher, die auf uns wirken wie ein Unglück, das uns sehr schmerzt, wie der Tod eines, den wir lieber hatten als uns, wie wenn wir in Wälder verstoßen würden, von allen Menschen weg, wie ein Selbstmord, ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. Das glaube ich.]

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
Letter to Oskar Pollak (27 Jan 1904)
    (Source)

Alt. translations:
  • "If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skulls, then why do we read it? Good God, we also would be happy if we had no books and such books that make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. What we must have are those books that come on us like ill fortune, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us."
  • "What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us."
  • "A book should be an ice-axe to break the frozen sea within us."
  • "A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul."
  • "A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us."
 
Added on 12-Nov-13 | Last updated 19-Dec-19
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Wo be to him that reads but one book.

George Herbert (1593-1633) Welsh priest, orator, poet.
Jacula Prudentum, or Outlandish Proverbs, Sentences, &c. (compiler), # 1146 (1651 ed.)
    (Source)

See this Latin proverb.
 
Added on 19-Aug-10 | Last updated 23-Feb-24
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Live always in the best company when you read.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith, by His Daughter, Lady Holland, Vol. 1, ch. 10 (1855)
    (Source)
 
Added on 21-Nov-08 | Last updated 23-Jan-24
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If books were sold as software and online recordings are, they would have this legalese up front:

The content of this book is distributed on an ‘as is’ basis, without warranty as to accuracy of content, quality of writing, punctuation, usefulness of the ideas presented, merchantability, correctness or readability of formulae, charts, and figures, or correspondence of (a) the table of contents with the actual contents, (2) page references in the index (if any) with the actual page numbering (if present), and (iii) any illustration with its adjacent caption. Illustrations may have been printed reversed or inverted, the publisher accepts no responsibility for orientation or chirality. Any resemblance of the author or his or her likeness or name to any person, living or dead, or their heirs or assigns, is coincidental; all references to people, places, or events have been or should have been fictionalized and may or may not have any factual basis, even if reported as factual. Similarities to existing works of art, literature, song, or television or movie scripts is pure happenstance. References have been chosen at random from our own catalog. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher shall have any liability whatever to any person, corporation, animal whether feral or domesticated, or other corporeal or incorporeal entity with respect to any loss, damage, misunderstanding, or death from choking with laughter or apoplexy at or due to, respectively, the contents; that is caused or is alleged to be caused by any party, whether directly or indirectly due to the information or lack of information that may or may not be found in this alleged work. No representation is made as to the correctness of the ISBN or date of publication as our typist isn’t good with numbers and errors of spelling and usage are attributable solely to bugs in the spelling and grammar checker in Microsoft Word. If sold without a cover, this book will be thinner than those sold with a cover. You do not own this book, but have acquired only a revocable non-exclusive license to read the material contained herein. You may not read it aloud to any third party. This disclaimer is a copyrighted work of Jef Raskin, first published in 2004, and is distributed ‘as is’, without warranty as to quality of humor, incisiveness of commentary, sharpness of taunt, or aptness of jibe.

Jef Raskin
Jef Raskin (1943-2005) American computer scientist, writer
“If Books Were Sold as Software,” NewsScan.com (18 Aug 2004)
    (Source)
 
Added on 24-Feb-07 | Last updated 18-Apr-22
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I was asking myself these questions, weeping all the while with the most bitter sorrow in my heart, when all at once I heard the sing-song voice of a child in a nearby house. Whether it was the voice of a boy or a girl I cannot say, but again and again it repeated the refrain “Take it and read, take it and read.”

[Dicebam haec et flebam amarissima contritione cordis mei. Et ecce audio vocem de vicina domo cum cantu dicentis et crebro repetentis, quasi pueri an puellae, nescio: “tolle lege, tolle lege.”]

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Christian church father, philosopher, saint [b. Aurelius Augustinus]
Confessions, Book 8, ch. 12 / ¶ 29 (8.12.29) (c. AD 398) [tr. Pine-Coffin (1961)]
    (Source)

Augustine writes of being unable to break himself away from his life of carnal sin, until, at this moment, he gets what he deems an inspiration from God to open the Bible at random and, reading Romans 13:13-14, makes his full conversion to Christianity.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

So was I speaking and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighbouring house a voice, as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting, and oft repeating, "Take up and read; Take up and read."
[tr. Pusey (1838) and ed. Shedd (1860)]

I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo, I heard the voice as of a boy or girl, I know not which, coming from a neighbouring house, chanting, and oft repeating, “Take up and read; take up and read.
[tr. Pilkington (1876)]

I spoke thus , and wept in the bitterest sorrow of my heart. And lo, I heard a voice as of a boy or girl from a neighbouring house, I know not which, chanting, and frequently repeating, "Take, read; take, read."
[tr. Hutchings (1890)]

Thus I spoke, weeping in bitter contrition of heart, when, lo, I heard a voice from the neighbouring house. It seemed as if some boy or girl, I knew not which, was repeating in a kind of chant the words, "Take and read, take and read."
[tr. Bigg (1897)]

Such things I said, weeping in the most bitter sorrow of my heart. And suddenly I heard a voice from some nearby house, a boy’s voice or a girl’s voice, I do not know: but it was a sort of sing-song, repeated again and again, “Take and read, take and read.”
[tr. Sheed (1943)]

I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl -- I know not which -- coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, “Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.”
[tr. Outler (1955)]

Such words I spoke, and with most bitter contrition I wept within my heart. And lo, I heard from a nearby house, a voice like that of a boy or a girl, I know not which, chanting and repeating over and over, “Take up and read. Take up and read.”
[tr. Ryan (1960)]

So I spoke, weeping in the bitter contrition of my heart. Suddenly a voice reaches my ears from a nearby house. It is the voice of a boy or a girl (I don’t know which) and in a kind of singsong the words are constantly repeated: “Take it and read it. Take it and read it.”
[tr. Warner (1963)]

Such were my words and I wept in the bitter contrition of my heart. And, see, I heard a voice from a neighbouring house chanting repeatedly, whether a boy’s or a girl’s voice I do not know: "Pick it up and read it, pick it up and read it."
[tr. Blaiklock (1983)]

 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 15-May-23
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This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
(Attributed)

First attributed in this form in Robert E. Drennan, ed., The Algonquin Wits (1968). No actual source material has been found by Parker using this quip, and it appears to have been first attributed to her by Bennett Cerf in his "Try and Stop Me" syndicated column (1962-10-10).

The Quote Investigator site attributes the quote to a faked, humorous review blurb in the book To You I Tell It! by Bill Miller (1929). Further examination of the quotation's origins: Quote Origin: Not a Book To Be Lightly Thrown Aside. Should Be Thrown with Great Force – Quote Investigator®.
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Jun-23
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