Quotations about   narrative

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We are each the star of our own situation comedy, and, with luck, the screwball friend in someone else’s.

Robert Brault (b. c. 1945) American aphorist, programmer
(Attributed)
Added on 29-Sep-20 | Last updated 29-Sep-20
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I have regarded you, not as a novelist, but as an historian; for it is my considered opinion, unshaken at 85, that records of fact are not history. They are only annals, which cannot become historical until the artist-poet-philosopher rescues them from the unintelligible chaos of their actual occurrence and arranges them in works of art.

When people ask me what has happened in my long lifetime I do not refer them to the newspaper files and to the authorities, but to your novels. They object that the people in your books never existed; that their deeds were never done and their sayings never uttered. I assure them that they were, except that Upton Sinclair individualized and expressed them better than they could have done, and arranged their experiences, which as they actually occurred were as unintelligible as pied type, in significant and intelligible order.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Letter to Upton Sinclair (12 Dec 1941)
Added on 24-Sep-20 | Last updated 24-Sep-20
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If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
(Attributed)
Added on 17-Apr-20 | Last updated 17-Apr-20
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Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.

Jean-Luc Godard (b. 1930) French-Swiss film director, screenwriter, critic
(Attributed)
Added on 11-Mar-20 | Last updated 11-Mar-20
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ADVICE TO PERSONS ABOUT TO WRITE HISTORY — DON’T.

In the Moral Sciences Prejudice is Dishonesty.

A Historian has to fight against temptations special to his mode of life, temptations from Country, Class, Church, College, Party, Authority of talents, solicitation of friends.

The most respectable of these influences are the most dangerous.

The historian who neglects to root them out is exactly like a juror who votes according to his personal likes or dislikes.

In judging men and things Ethics go before Dogma, Politics or Nationality.

The Ethics of History cannot be denominational.

Judge not according to the orthodox standard of a system religious, philosophical, political, but according as things promote, or fail to promote the delicacy, integrity, and authority of Conscience.

Put conscience above both system and success.

History provides neither compensation for suffering nor penalties for wrong.

John Dalberg, Lord Acton (1834-1902) British historian
Letter to Bp. Mandell Creighton, Postscript (3 Apr 1887)
Added on 4-Feb-14 | Last updated 12-Feb-20
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The present, as historians well know, re-creates the past. This is partly because, once we know how things have come out, we tend to rewrite the past in terms of historical inevitability.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007) American historian, author, social critic
“The Historian as Participant,” Daedalus (Spring 1971)
Added on 18-Feb-11 | Last updated 18-Dec-19
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