Quotations about   loneliness

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Each one of us is alone in the world. He is shut in a tower of brass, and can communicate with his fellows only by signs, and the signs have no common value, so that their sense is vague and uncertain. We seek pitifully to convey to others the treasures of our heart, but they have not the power to accept them, and so we go lonely, side by side but not together, unable to know our fellows and unknown by them. We are like people living in a country whose language they know so little that, with all manner of beautiful and profound things to say, they are condemned to the banalities of the conversation manual. Their brain is seething with ideas, and they can only tell you that the umbrella of the gardener’s aunt is in the house.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
The Moon and Sixpence, ch. 42 (1919)
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Added on 1-Aug-22 | Last updated 1-Aug-22
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What is the opposite of two?
A lonely me, a lonely you.

Richard Wilbur
Richard Wilbur (1921-2017) American poet, literary translator
“Some Opposites,” Opposites (1973)
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Added on 21-Jul-22 | Last updated 21-Jul-22
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Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.

Jung - loneliness

Carl Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist
Memories, Dreams, Reflections [Erinnerungen, Träume, Gedanken], “Retrospect” (1962) [with Aniela Jaffé; tr. Winston (1963)]
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Added on 13-Jun-22 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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Travelling, whatever may be said of it, is one of the saddest pleasures of life. When you feel yourself settled in some foreign city, it begins to feel, in some degree, like your own country; but to traverse unknown realms, to hear a language spoken which you hardly comprehend, to see human countenances which have no connection either with your past recollections, or future prospects, is solitude and isolation, without dignity and without repose.

[Voyager est, quoi qu’on en puisse dire, un des plus tristes plaisirs de la vie. Lorsque vous vous trouvez bien dans quelque ville étrangère, c’est que vous commencez à vous y faire une patrie; mais traverser des pays inconnus, entendre parler un langage que vous comprenez à peine, voir des visages humains sans relation avec votre passé ni avec votre avenir, c’est de la solitude et de l’isolement sans repos et sans dignité.]

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Corinne, Book 1, ch. 2 (1807) [tr. Lawler]
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(Source (French))
Added on 24-Feb-22 | Last updated 24-Feb-22
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there are worse things than
being alone
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it’s too late
and there’s nothing worse
than
too late.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
“Oh Yes,” You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense (1986)
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Added on 1-Dec-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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What a comfort one familiar face is in a howling wilderness of strangers!

Lucy Maud Montgomery
Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) Canadian author
Anne of the Island, ch. 3 (1915)
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Added on 21-Oct-21 | Last updated 21-Oct-21
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Real loneliness is not necessarily limited to when you are alone.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
sifting through the madness for the Word, the line, the way, Part 2, epigram (2003)
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The book was reprinted as New Poems, Book Two (2011).
Added on 20-Oct-21 | Last updated 20-Oct-21
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Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American poet, novelist, memoirist [pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton]
Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing (1965)
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Repeated in an interview with John McNally, Castaway's Choice, KCRW (1 Jul 1988).
Added on 12-Oct-21 | Last updated 12-Oct-21
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Every work of art is one half of a secret handshake, a challenge that seeks the password, a heliograph flashed from a tower window, an act of hopeless optimism in the service of bottomless longing. Every great novel or comic book convenes the first meeting of a fan club whose membership stands forever at one but which maintains chapters in every city — in every cranium — in the world. Art, like fandom, asserts the possibility of fellowship in a world built entirely from the materials of solitude.

Michael Chabon (b. 1963) American author
“The Loser’s Club,” Manhood for Amateurs (2000)
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Added on 8-Jul-21 | Last updated 8-Jul-21
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Loneliness, insomnia, and change: the fear of these is even worse than the reality.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 10 (1966)
Added on 20-May-21 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.

Orson Welles (1915-1985) American writer, director, actor
In Someone to Love, film (1987) [written and directed by Henry Jaglom]

Ad libbed by Welles, in his last film appearance.
Added on 22-Jul-20 | Last updated 22-Jul-20
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God created man and, finding him not sufficiently alone, gave him a companion to make him feel his solitude more keenly.

Paul Valéry (1871-1945) French poet, critic, author, polymath
“Moralités” (1932), Tel Quel 1 (1941)
Added on 18-May-20 | Last updated 18-May-20
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Booksellers are the most valuable destination for the lonely, given the number of books that were written because authors couldn’t find anyone to talk to.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 4 “Consolation for Inadequacy” (2000)
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Added on 13-Feb-20 | Last updated 13-Feb-20
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… so I wait for you like a lonely house
till you will see me again and live in me.
Till then my windows ache.

[… y así te espero como casa sola
y volverás a verme y habitarme.
De otro modo me duelen las ventanas.]

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) Chilean poet, diplomat, politician [b. Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto]
Sonnet 65
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Added on 6-Apr-18 | Last updated 6-Apr-18
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Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

David Whyte (b. 1955) Anglo-Irish poet
“Sweet Darkness,” House of Belonging (1996)
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Added on 20-Mar-18 | Last updated 20-Mar-18
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No one can be happy in eternal solitude.

Anne Brontë (1820-1849) British novelist, poet [pseud. Acton Bell]
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, ch. 7 “The Excursion” [Helen] (1848)
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Added on 9-Feb-17 | Last updated 9-Feb-17
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It is a great misfortune to be alone, my friends; and it must be believed that solitude can quickly destroy reason.

[Malheur à qui est seul, mes amis, et il faut croire que l’isolement a vite fait de détruire la raison.]

Verne - misfortune to be alone - wist_info quote

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Mysterious Island, Part 2, ch. 15 (1874) [tr. White (1876)]
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Added on 13-May-16 | Last updated 13-May-16
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A necessary quality for the attainment of individuality is the ability to tolerate some degree of loneliness in the sense of independent adherence to values that those around you will not support.

D. W. Harding (1906-1993) British psychologist and literary critic [Denys Clement Wyatt Harding]
Social Psychology and Individual Values (1953)
Added on 13-Oct-15 | Last updated 13-Oct-15
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No man is lonely while eating spaghetti — it requires too much attention.

Christopher Morley (1890-1957) American journalist, novelist, essayist, poet
In Life (24 Oct 1969)
Added on 21-Nov-14 | Last updated 21-Nov-14
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Solitude vivifies; isolation kills.

Joseph Roux
Joseph Roux (1834-1886) French Catholic priest
Meditations of a Parish Priest, 5.60 [tr. Hapgood (1886)]
Added on 10-Mar-14 | Last updated 10-Mar-14
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You come into the world alone and you go out of the world alone yet it seems to me you are more alone while living than even going and coming.

Emily Carr (1871-1945) Canadian artist and writer
Hundreds and Thousands: The Journals of Emily Carr, “16 July 1933” (1966)
Added on 6-Jan-14 | Last updated 6-Jan-14
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Our language has wisely sensed these two sides of man’s being alone. It has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.

Paul Tillich (1886-1965) American theologian and philosopher
The Eternal Now, “Loneliness and Solitude” (1963)
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Added on 30-Dec-13 | Last updated 20-Jun-17
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