Quotations about   solitude

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Animals are a compromise between being alone and being with people.

Lillian M. Roberts (contemp.) American author, veterinarian
Riding for a Fall (1996)
Added on 26-Jul-19 | Last updated 26-Jul-19
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One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.

Stendhal (1783-1842) French writer [pen name of Marie-Henri Beyle]
On Love, Book 3 “Fragments” (1822)
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Added on 14-Nov-17 | Last updated 14-Nov-17
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Absence is one of the most useful ingredients of family life, and to do it rightly is an art like any other.

Freya Stark (1893-1993) Franco-British explorer, travel writer [Freya Madeline Stark]
The Freya Stark Story (1953)
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Added on 17-Oct-17 | Last updated 17-Oct-17
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Fond as we are of our loved ones, there comes at times during their absence an unexplained peace.

Other Authors and Sources
Anne Shaw, But Such Is Life (1931)
Added on 3-Oct-17 | Last updated 3-Oct-17
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It is sometimes said of a man who lives alone that he does not like society. This is like saying of a man he does not like going for walks because he is not fond of walking at night in the forêt de Bondy.

[On dit quelquefois d’un homme qui vit seul: il n’aime pas la Société. C’est souvent comme si on disait d’un homme qu’il n’aime pas la promenade, sous le prétexte qu’il ne se promène pas volontiers le soir dans la forêt de Bondy.]

Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées], #275 (1795)
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Quoted by Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety (2004).
Added on 27-Jul-17 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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To ensure moral salvation, it is primarily necessary to depend on oneself, because in the moment of peril we are alone. And strength is not to be acquired instantaneously. He who knows that he will have to fight, prepares himself for boxing and dueling by strength and skill; he does not sit still with folded hands.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) Italian educator, philosopher, educator, physician
The Advanced Montessori Method: Spontaneous Activity in Education, Vol. I (1917)
Added on 13-Jun-17 | Last updated 13-Jun-17
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The world today does not understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone. How inexplicable it seems. Anything else will be accepted as a better excuse. If one sets aside time for a business appointment, a trip to the hairdresser, a social engagement or a shopping expedition, that time is accepted as inviolable. But if one says: I cannot come because that is my hour to be alone, one is considered rude, egotistical or strange. What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it — like a secret vice!

Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001) American writer, pilot
Gift From the Sea (1955)
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Added on 6-Jun-17 | Last updated 6-Jun-17
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Be able to be alone. Lose not the advantage of Solitude, and the Society of thy self, nor be only content, but delight to be alone and single with Omnipresency.

Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English physician and author
Christian Morals, Part 3, sec. 9 (1716)
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Added on 30-May-17 | Last updated 30-May-17
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I love people. I love my family, my children … but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) American writer
Interview, New York Post (26 Apr 1959)

Often paraphrased, "Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that is where I renew my springs that never dry up."
Added on 23-May-17 | Last updated 23-May-17
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Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing;
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice; then darkness again and a silence.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Tales of a Wayside Inn, Part 3 “The Theologian’s Tale: Elizabeth” part 4 (1874)
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Added on 10-Apr-17 | Last updated 10-Apr-17
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Talents are best nurtured in solitude; character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Torquato Tasso, Act 1, sc. 2 (1790)
Added on 14-Feb-17 | Last updated 14-Feb-17
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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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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)
Added on 2-Feb-17 | Last updated 2-Feb-17
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Solitude is naught and society is naught. Alternate them and the good of each is seen.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1838)
Added on 17-Oct-16 | Last updated 17-Oct-16
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A man has to live with himself, and he should see to it that he always has good company.

hughes-good-company-wist_info-quote

Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. (1862-1948) American statesman, politician, Supreme Court Justice (1910-1916, 1930-1941)
Address to the YMCA, New York

Quoted in The Homiletic Review (Nov 1907)
Added on 13-Sep-16 | Last updated 13-Sep-16
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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 bore is a man who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company.

Giovanni Vincenzo Gravina (1664-1718) Italian man of letters and jurist
(Attributed)

Sometimes attributed to Oscar Wilde.
Added on 9-Mar-16 | Last updated 9-Mar-16
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Home is where, when you go there and tell people to get out, they have to leave.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Skin Game (2014)
Added on 7-Dec-15 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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He first deceased; she for a little tried
To live without him: liked it not, and died.

Henry Wotton (1568-1639) English author, diplomat, politician
“Upon the Death of Sir Albertus Moreton’s Wife” (1651)
Added on 12-Mar-15 | Last updated 12-Mar-15
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I just have one of those faces. People come up to me and say, “What’s wrong?” Nothing. “Well, it takes more energy to frown than it does to smile.” Yeah, you know it takes more energy to point that out than it does to leave me alone?

Bill Hicks (1961-1994) American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, musician [William Melvin "Bill" Hicks]
Relentless (1992)
Added on 27-Feb-15 | Last updated 27-Feb-15
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It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own. But the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Ethics,” Lecture, Masonic Temple, Boston (17 Feb 1837)
Added on 19-Sep-14 | Last updated 19-Sep-14
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I’m rarely bored alone; I am often bored in groups and crowds.

Laurie Helgoe (b. 1960) American psychologist and author
Introvert Power, ch. 1 (2008)
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Usually attributed to Helgoe, but cited in the book to "Don, Minnesota."
Added on 16-May-14 | Last updated 16-May-14
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Piety practised in solitude, like the flower that blooms in the desert, may give its fragrance to the winds of heaven, and delight those unbodied spirits that survey the works of God and the actions of men; but it bestows no assistance upon earthly beings, and however free from taints of impurity, yet wants the sacred splendour of beneficence.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Adventurer, #126 “Praises of Solitude”
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Added on 2-May-14 | Last updated 2-May-14
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There comes a moment in everybody’s life when he must decide whether he’ll live among human beings or not — a fool among fools or a fool alone.

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) American novelist and playwright
The Matchmaker, 4 (1954)
Added on 14-Apr-14 | Last updated 14-Apr-14
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If we are to survive, we must have ideas, vision, courage. These things are rarely produced by committees. Everything that matters in our intellectual and moral life begins with an individual confronting his own mind and conscience in a room by himself.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007) American historian, author, social critic
“The Decline of Greatness,” Saturday Evening Post (1 Nov 1958)
Added on 7-Apr-14 | Last updated 7-Apr-14
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Something of the hermit’s temper is an essential element in many forms of excellence, since it enables a man to resist the lure of popularity, to pursue important work in spite of general indifference or hostility, and arrive at opinions which are opposed to prevalent errors.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Power: A New Social Analysis, ch. 2 (1938)
Added on 31-Mar-14 | Last updated 31-Mar-14
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Man seems to be made neither to live alone nor with others.

Fulke Greville (1554-1628) 1st Baron Brooke; Elizabethan poet, dramatist, and statesman
Maxims, Characters, and Reflections (1756)
Added on 24-Mar-14 | Last updated 24-Mar-14
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Those who retire from the world on akount ov its sin and peskyness must not forgit that they hav got tew keep kompany with a person who wants just as much watching as ennyboddy else.

[Those who retire from the world on account of its sin and peskiness must not forget that they have got to keep company with a person who wants just as much watching as anybody else.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
On Ice: and Other Things, 60 (1868)
Added on 17-Mar-14 | Last updated 17-Mar-14
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Endeavor to make thy own Company pleasant to thee.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, #99 (1731)
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A wize man never enjoys himself so mutch, nor a phool so little, az when alone.

[A wise man never enjoys himself so much, nor a fool so little, as when alone.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Koarse Shot” (1874)
Added on 10-Feb-14 | Last updated 10-Feb-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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No good thing is pleasant to possess without friends to share it.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Letters to Lucilius [Epistulae morales ad Lucilium], letter 6 “On Sharing Knowledge,” sec. 4 [tr. Gummere (1918)]
Added on 22-Nov-13 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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Better be alone than in bad company.

John Clarke (d. 1658) British educator
Proverbs: English and Latine [Paroemiologia Anglo-Latina] (1639)
Added on 4-Nov-13 | Last updated 28-Apr-14
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Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character.

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) American diplomat, essayist, poet
Among My Books, “Dryden” (1870)
Added on 2-Feb-09 | Last updated 13-Jun-17
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The worst solitude is to be destitute of sincere friendship.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-May-16
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When I have occasionally set myself to consider the different distractions of men, the pains and perils to which they expose themselves at court or in war, whence arise so many quarrels, passions, bold and often bad ventures, etc., I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) French scientist and philosopher
Pensées #139 “Diversion” (1670)
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Alt. trans.: "I have often said that man's unhappiness springs from one thing alone, his incapacity to stay quietly in one room."

Alt. trans.: "All the trouble in the world is due to the fact that a man cannot sit still in a room."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Jun-17
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I live in the crowd of jollity, not so much to enjoy company as to shun myself.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 26 (1759)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-Oct-14
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