Quotations about   brilliance

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The difference between a man of genius seen in his works and in person, is like that of a lighthouse seen by night and by day, — in the one case only a great fiery brain, in the other only a white tower.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Table-Talk”
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Added on 9-Jul-21 | Last updated 9-Jul-21
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Most of us stand poised at the edge of brilliance, haunted by the knowledge of our proximity, yet still demonstrably on the wrong side of the line, our dealings with reality undermined by a range of minor yet critical psychological flaws (a little too much optimism, an unprocessed rebelliousness, a fatal impatience or sentimentality). We are like an exquisite high-speed aircraft which for lack of a tiny part is left stranded beside the runway, rendered slower than a tractor or bicycle.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, ch. 4 (2009)
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Added on 4-Oct-18 | Last updated 4-Oct-18
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Every life is allocated one hundred seconds of genius. They might be enough, if we could just be sure which ones they are.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays (2001)
Added on 16-Oct-15 | Last updated 16-Oct-15
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To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
(Attributed)

In Reader's Digest (1934).
Added on 14-Jun-11 | Last updated 23-Mar-20
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Men of genius are often dull and inert in society, as a blazing meteor, when it descends to earth, is only a stone.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Kavanaugh: A Tale, ch. 13 (1849)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Apr-21
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There is no great genius without a touch of madness.

[Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
(Attributed)

Attributed to Aristotle by Seneca the Younger, "On Tranquility of Mind" (17.10).

Variants:
  • "No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness."
  • "No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness." [tr. Basore (1932)]
  • "There is no great genius without a mixture of madness."
  • "There was never a genius without a tincture of madness."
  • "No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness."
  • [tr. @sentantiq (2018)]


While Aristotle did not say precisely this, he did make comments about madness/melancholy and poets/prominent talents (here and here).
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-May-21
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Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) English historian
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 5, ch. 50 (1788)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Dec-20
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