--William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!
Who indeed knows the secret of the earthly pilgrimage? Who indeed knows why there can be comfort in a world of desolation? Now God be thanked that there is a beloved one who can lift up the heart in suffering, that one can play with a child in the face of such misery. Now God be thanked that the name of a hill is such music, that the name of a river can heal. Aye, even the name of a river that runs no more.
Who indeed knows the secret of the earthly pilgrimage? Who knows for what we live, and struggle and die? Who knows what keeps us living and struggling, while all things break about us? Who knows why the warm flesh of a child is such comfort, when one's own child is lost and cannot be recovered? Wise men write many books, in words too hard to understand. But this, the purpose of our lives, the end of all our struggle, is beyond all human wisdom.
--Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country
A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
--Thomas Mann, Essays Of Three Decades
Recalling his first impression of Hitler, Hanfstaengl wrote, "Hitler looked like a suburban hairdresser on his day off.
--Erik Larson, In The Garden Of Beasts: Love, Terror And An American Family In Hitler's Berlin
It seems that a profound, impartial, and absolutely just opinion of our fellow-creatures is utterly unknown. Either we are men, or we are women. Either we are cold, or we are sentimental. Either we are young, or growing old. In any case life is but a procession of shadows, and God knows why it is that we embrace them so eagerly, and see them depart with such anguish, being shadows. And why, if this -- and much more than this is true -- why are we yet surprised in the window corner by a sudden vision that the young man in the chair is of all things in the world the most real, the most solid, the best known to us--why indeed? For the moment after we know nothing about him.
Such is the manner of our seeing. Such the conditions of our love.
--Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room
Marveling he stands on the cathedral's
steep ascent, close to the rose window,
as though frightened at the apotheosis
which grew and all at once
set him down over these and these.
And straight he stands and glad of his endurance,
simply determined; as the husbandman
who began and who knew not how
from the garden of Eden finished-full
to find a way out into
the new earth. God was hard to persuade;
and threatened him, instead of acceding,
ever and again, that he would die.
Yet man persisted: she will bring forth.
--Rainer Maria Rilke