Quotations about   solitude

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A voyage without companionship, that is to say without conversation, is one of the saddest pleasures of life.

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Quoted in Margaret Goldsmith, Madame de Staël (1938)

See also here.
Added on 4-Mar-22 | Last updated 4-Mar-22
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No doubt about it, solitude is improved by being voluntary.

Barbara Holland (1933-2010) American author
One’s Company: Reflections on Living Alone (1996)
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Added on 25-Jan-22 | Last updated 25-Jan-22
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One person by himself is not a complete human being.

Northrop Frye (1912-1991) Canadian literary critic and literary theorist
The Educated Imagination, Talk 1 “The Motive for Metaphor” (1963)
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Added on 6-Dec-21 | Last updated 6-Dec-21
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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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It can be difficult to be an introvert in church, especially if you happen to be the pastor. Liking to be alone can be interpreted as a judgment on other people’s company. Liking to be quiet can be construed as aloofness. There is so much emphasis on community in most congregations that anyone who does not participate risks being labeled a loner.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
An Altar in the World, ch. 7 (2009)
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Added on 19-Nov-21 | Last updated 19-Nov-21
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I don’t hate people, I just feel better when they aren’t around.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
Barfly (1987)
    (Source)

From the movie screenplay by Bukowski.

This is the way the phrase is usually quoted, but it's actually a series of lines when Henry (a character standing in for Bukowski himself) first meets Wanda.

WANDA: I can't stand people. I hate them.
HENRY: Yeah?
WANDA: You hate them?
HENRY: No, but I seem to feel better when they're not around.

Bukowski is actually in the scene as the barfly closest to Wanda before Henry moves next to her. Video clip.
Added on 17-Nov-21 | Last updated 17-Nov-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)
    (Source)

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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I can tell you that solitude
Is not all exaltation, inner space
Where the soul breathes and work can be done.
Solitude exposes the nerve,
Raises up ghosts.
The past, never at rest, flows through it.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American poet, novelist, memoirist [pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton]
“Gestalt at Sixty,” sec. 1 (1972)
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Added on 7-Sep-21 | Last updated 7-Sep-21
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There is no doubt that solitude is a challenge and to maintain balance within it a precarious business. But I must not forget that, for me, being with people or even with one beloved person for any length of time without solitude is even worse. I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces. I must have time alone in which to mull over my encounter, and to extract its juice, its essence, to understand what has really happened to me as a consequence of it.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American poet, novelist, memoirist [pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton]
Journal of a Solitude (1973)
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Added on 17-Aug-21 | Last updated 17-Aug-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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You ask me how my farm can pay,
Since little it will bear;
It pays me thus — ‘Tis far away
And you are never there.

[Quid mini reddat ager quaeris, Line, Nomentanus?
Hoc mini reddit ager: te, Line, non video.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 38 (2.38) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
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Original Latin. Alternate translations:

What my farm yields me, doest thou urge to know?
This, that I see not thee, when there I go.
[tr. Anon. (1695)]

Do you ask what profit my Nomentan estate brings me, Linus? My estate brings me this profit, that I do not see you, Linus.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1860)]

Ask you what my Nomentane fields
Can yield me, Linus, bleak and few?
For me my farm this, Linus, yields;--
That, when I'm there, I'm rid of you.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

You ask what I grow on my Sabine estate.
A reliable answer is due.
I grow on that soil --
Far from urban turmoil --
Very happy at not seeing you.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

Do you ask, Linus, what my Nomentan farm returns me? This my land returns me: I don't see you, Linus.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Linus, you mock my distant farm,
And ask what good it is to me?
Well, it has got at least one charm --
When there, from Linus I am free!
[tr. Duff (1929)]

You ask what my estate at Nomentum produces for me? It produces this: that I don't see you, Linus.
[tr. Williams (2003)]

You ask me why I like the country air.
I never meet you there.
[tr. Kennelly (2004), "The Reason"]

What, Linus, can my farm be minus
When it successfully lacks Linus?
[tr. Wills (2007)]

What yield does my Nomentan farmstead bear?
Linus, I don’t see you when I am there.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

You're wondering what the yield is from my farm at Nomentum, Linus? Here's the yield form my farm: Linus, I don't have to look at you.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

Linus, dost ask what my field yields to me?
Even this profit, that I ne'er see thee.
[tr. Fletcher]

Ask you what my Nomentane field brings me?
This, Linus, 'mongst the rest, I ne'er see thee.
[tr. Wright]

You wonder if my farm pays me its share?
It pays me this: I do not see you there.
[tr. Oliver]

You ask me why I love fresh country air?
You’re not befouling it there.
[tr. Burch]

You ask me why I choose to live elsewhere? You're not there.
[tr. Burch]

Added on 2-Jul-21 | Last updated 4-Mar-22
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If a man should ascend alone into heaven and behold clearly the structure of the universe and the beauty of the stars, there would be no pleasure for him in the awe-inspiring sight, which would have filled him with delight if he had had someone to whom he could describe what he had seen.

[Si quis in coelum ascendisset, naturamque mundi, et pulchritudinem siderum perspexisset, insuavem illam admirationem ei fore; quae jucudissima fuisset, si aliquem, cui narraret, habuisset.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
“Laelius De Amicitia [Laelius on Friendship],” ch. 23 / sec. 88 (44 BC) [tr. Falconer (1923)]
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Original Latin. Cicero attributes this as a paraphrase of Archytas of Tarentum (d. 394 BC), a Pythagorean philosopher and astronomer. Alternate translations:

If any one could have ascended to the sky, and surveyed the structure of the universe, and the beauty of the stars, that such admiration would be insipid to him; and yet it would be most delightful if he had someone to whom he might describe it.
[tr. Edmonds (1871)]

If one had ascended to heaven, and had obtained a full view of the nature of the universe and the beauty of the stars, yet his admiration would be without delight, if there were no one to whom he could tell what he had seen.
[tr. Peabody (1887)]

If a man could ascend to heaven and get a clear view of the natural order of the universe, and the beauty of the heavenly bodies, that wonderful spectacle would give him small pleasure, though nothing could be conceived more delightful if he had but had some one to whom to tell what he had seen.
[tr. Shuckburgh (1909)]

If a man could mount to heaven and survey the mighty universe with all the planetary orbs, his admiration of its beauties would be much diminished, unless he had someone to share in his pleasure.
[Source]

Added on 3-May-21 | Last updated 3-May-21
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ANN ANDERSON: Here’s something else you must remember: husbands like to be alone once in awhile.
JENNIE ANDERSON: Why?
ANN ANDERSON: You never know why, but I can always tell when James wants to be alone. A mood comes over him. I can always see it in his eyes before it gets there. I don’t know where the mood comes from or why, but that’s when I leave him alone. It seems sometimes things get so fickle in a man that he comes to feel that everything is closing in on him — and that’s when he wants to be left alone. You understand, don’t you?
JENNIE ANDERSON: No!

James Lee Barrett (1929-1989) American author, producer, screenwriter
Shenandoah (1965)
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Added on 23-Sep-20 | Last updated 23-Sep-20
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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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Self-pity? I see no moral objections to it, the smell drives people away, but that’s a practical objection, and occasionally an advantage.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
Commonplace Book (1985) [ed. Gardner]
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Added on 3-Jun-20 | Last updated 3-Jun-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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Solitude is not lack.

Laurie Helgoe (b. 1960) American psychologist and author
Introvert Power, ch. 2 (2008)
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Sometimes misquoted "Solitude is not a lack."
Added on 8-May-20 | Last updated 8-May-20
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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)
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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. Loose 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 4-Aug-21
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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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A talent forms itself in solitude,
A character amid the stream of life.

[Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille,
Sich ein Charakter in dem Strom der Welt.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Torquato Tasso, Act 1, sc. 2, ll. 304-305 [Leonora] (1790) [tr. Ryder (1993)]
    (Source)

(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

  • "A talent doth in stillness form itself -- / A character on life's unquiet stream." [tr. Des Voeux (1827)]
  • "Talents are nurtured best in solitude, -- / A character on life's tempestuous sea." [tr. Swanwick (1843)]
  • "Man's talent ripens in tranquility, / His character in battling with the world." [tr. Cartwright (1861)]
  • "A talent in tranquility is formed, / A character in the turbulence of affairs." [tr. Hamburger (20th C)]
  • "Talent develops in quiet places, / Character in the full current of human life."
  • Talents are best nurtured in solitude; / Character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.
  • "Genius is formed in quiet, / Character in the stream of human life."
Added on 14-Feb-17 | Last updated 15-Oct-21
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)]
    (Source)
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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.
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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)
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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)
    (Source)

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)
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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)
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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 (1725)
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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)
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But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state.

[εἰ γὰρ μὴ αὐτάρκης ἕκαστος χωρισθείς, ὁμοίως τοῖς ἄλλοις μέρεσιν ἕξει πρὸς τὸ ὅλον, ὁ δὲ μὴ δυνάμενος κοινωνεῖν ἢ μηθὲν δεόμενος δι᾿ αὐτάρκειαν οὐθὲν μέρος πόλεως, ὥστε ἢ θηρίον ἢ θεός.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics [Πολιτικά], Book 1, ch. 2, sec. 14 / 1253a.27 [tr. Jowett (1885)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:
  • "But the man who has not the capability of association, or requires nothing from outside through his own complete resources, is no part of a state; so that he must be either a brute (below the level of man), or a God (above it)." [tr. Bolland (1877)]
  • "He that is incapable of society, or so complete in himself as not to want it, makes no part of a city, as a beast or a god." [tr. Ellis (1912)]
  • "A man who is incapable of entering into partnership, or who is so self-sufficing that he has no need to do so, is no part of a state, so that he must be either a lower animal or a god." [tr. Rackham (1932)]
  • "One who is incapable of participating or who is in need of nothing through being self-sufficient is no part of a city, and so is either a beast or a god." [tr. Lord (1984)]
  • "Anyone who cannot live in a community with others, or who does not need to because of his self-sufficiency, is no part of a city, so that he is either a wild beast or a god." [tr. Reeve (2007)]
  • "If each person when separated is not sufficient on his own, just as other parts are to the whole while a person who is incapable of joining commonwealth or does not need any part of a state because of self-sufficiency is either a beast or a god." [tr. @sentantiq (2018)]
Added on 28-Dec-10 | Last updated 12-Feb-21
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From these things therefore it is clear that the city-state is a natural growth, and that man is by nature a political animal, and a man that is by nature and not merely by fortune citiless is either low in the scale of humanity or above it, like the “clanless, lawless, hearthless” man reviled by Homer, for one by nature unsocial is also ‘a lover of war’ inasmuch as he is solitary, like an isolated piece at draughts.

[ἐκ τούτων οὖν φανερὸν ὅτι τῶν φύσει ἡ πόλις ἐστί, καὶ ὅτι ὁ ἄνθρωπος φύσει πολιτικὸν ζῷον, καὶ ὁ ἄπολις διὰ φύσιν καὶ οὐ διὰ τύχην ἤτοι φαῦλός ἐστιν, ἢ κρείττων ἢ ἄνθρωπος: ὥσπερ καὶ ὁ ὑφ᾽ Ὁμήρου λοιδορηθεὶς “ἀφρήτωρ ἀθέμιστος ἀνέστιος:” ἅμα γὰρ φύσει τοιοῦτος καὶ πολέμου ἐπιθυμητής, ἅτε περ ἄζυξ ὢν ὥσπερ ἐν πεττοῖς.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics [Πολιτικά], Book 1, ch. 2 / 1253a.2 [tr. Rackham (1932)]
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See Homer. Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

From these considerations, therefore, it is clear that the State is one of Nature's productions, and that man is by nature a social animal, and that a man who is without a country through natural taste and not misfortune is certainly degraded (or else a being superior to man), like that man reviled by Homer as clanless, lawless, homeless. For he is naturally of this character and desirous of war, since he has no ties, like an exposed piece in the game of backgammon.
[tr. Bolland (1877)]

Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal. And he who by nature and not by mere accident is without a state, is either a bad man or above humanity; he is like the "tribeless, lawless, hearthless one," whom Homer denounces -- the natural outcast is forthwith a lover of war; he may be compared to an isolated piece at draughts.
[tr. Jowett (1885)]

Hence it is evident that a city is a natural production, and that man is naturally a political animal, and that whosoever is naturally and not accidentally unfit for society, must be either inferior or superior to man: thus the man in Homer, who is reviled for being "without society, without law, without family." Such a one must naturally be of a quarrelsome disposition, and as solitary as the birds.
[tr. Ellis (1912)]

From these things it is evident, then, that the city belongs among the things that exist by nature, and that man is by nature a political animal. He who is without a city through nature rather than chance is either a mean sort or superior to man; he is "without clan, without law, without hearth," like the person reproved by Homer; for the one who is such by nature has by this fact a desire for war, as if he were an isolated piece in a game of backgammon.
[tr. Lord (1984)]
Added on 20-Dec-10 | Last updated 12-Feb-21
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The secret thoughts of a man run over all things holy, prophane, clean, obscene, grave, and light, without shame, or blame.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 1, ch. 8 (1651)
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Added on 23-Sep-10 | Last updated 6-Nov-20
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