Thomas Wolfe, fully Thomas Clayton Wolfe

Wolfe, fully Thomas Clayton Wolfe

American Novelist, Short-Story Writer and Dramatist

Author Quotes

By Christmas, with fair luck, he might be eligible for service in khaki: by Spring, if God was good, all the proud privileges of trench-lice, mustard gas, spattered brains, punctured lungs, ripped guts, asphyxiation, mud and gangrene, might be his.

He was like a man who stands upon a hill above the town he had left, yet does not say 'The town is near,' but turns his eyes upon the distant soaring ranges.

It was like a dream of hell, when a man finds his own name staring at him from the Devil's ledger; like a dream of death, when he who comes as mourner finds himself in the coffin, or as witness to a hanging, the condemned upon the scaffold.

Now they saw it ? its newness, its raw crudeness, and its strength ? and turned their shuddering eyes away. "Give us back our well-worn husk," they said, "where we were so snug and comfortable." And then they tried word magic. "Conditions are fundamentally sound," they said ? by which they meant to reassure themselves that nothing now was really changed, that things were as they always had been, and as they always would be, forever and ever, amen. But they were wrong. They did not know that you can't go home again. America had come to the end of something and to the beginning of something else. But no one knew what that something else would be and out of the change and uncertainly and the wrongness of the leaders grew fear and desperation and before long hunger stalked the streets. Through it all there was still only one certainty, though no one saw it yet. America was still America, and whatever new thing came of it would be American.

The great play is yet unwritten; the great novel beats with futile hands against the portals of my brain.

There had been a time on earth when poets had been young and dead and famous ? and were men. But now the poet as the tragic child of grandeur and destiny had changed. The child of genius was a woman, now, and the man was gone.

What will remain of a civilization that reverences a man above all the poets because he can make a cheap automobile at $500 each?

Can no one bring me back a child? Why should a dog, a horse, a rat bare lips at them?'ll build great engines yet and taller towers, our dust will tremble to far greater wheels; have you no engines then to bring back sixty seconds of lost time?

He who lets himself be whored by fashion will be whored by time.

It was, he thought, the strong good medicine of death.

O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.

The Hudson River is like old October and tawny Indians in their camping places long ago; it is like long pipes and old tobacco; it is like cool depths and opulence; it is like the shimmer of liquid green on summer days.

There is no sight on earth more appealing than the sight of a woman making dinner for someone she loves.

Where they got you stationed now, Luke?'... [']In Norfolk at the Navy base,' Luke answered, 'm-m-making the world safe for hypocrisy.

A cult is a religion with no political power.

Child, child, have patience and belief, for life is many days, and each present hour will pass away. Son, son, you have been mad and drunken, furious and wild, filled with hatred and despair, and all the dark confusions of the soul - but so have we. You found the earth too great for your one life, you found your brain and sinew smaller than the hunger and desire that fed on them - but it has been this way with all men. You have stumbled on in darkness, you have been pulled in opposite directions, you have faltered, you have missed the way, but, child, this is the chronicle of the earth. And now, because you have known madness and despair, and because you will grow desperate again before you come to evening, we who have stormed the ramparts of the furious earth and been hurled back, we who have been maddened by the unknowable and bitter mystery of love, we who have hungered after fame and savored all of life, the tumult, pain, and frenzy, and now sit quietly by our windows watching all that henceforth never more shall touch us - we call upon you to take heart, for we can swear to you that these things pass.

His enemy was time. Or perhaps it was his friend. One never knows for sure.

I've made a long voyage and been to a strange country, and I've seen the dark man very close; and I don't think I was too much afraid of him, but so much of mortality still clings to me ? I wanted most desperately to live and still do.

One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years

The modern picture of the artist began to form: The poor, but free spirit, plebeian but aspiring only to be classless, to cut himself forever free from the bonds of the greedy bourgeoisie, to be whatever the fat burghers feared most, to cross the line wherever they drew it, to look at the world in a way they couldn't see, to be high, live low, stay young forever -- in short, to be the bohemian.

There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.

Whereon the pillars of this earth are founded, toward which the conscience of the world is tending-a wind is rising, and the rivers flow.

A destiny that leads the English to the Dutch is strange enough; but one that leads from Epsom into Pennsylvania, and thence into the hills that shut in Altamont over the proud coral cry of the cock, and the soft stone smile of an angel, is touched by that dark miracle of chance which makes new magic in a dusty world. Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into nakedness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas. The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a Georgia slattern, because a London cutpurse went unhung. Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like flies, buzz home to death, and every moment is a window on all time. This is a moment:

Culture is the arts elevated to a set of beliefs.

I don't know yet what I am capable of doing, but, by God, I have genius -- I know it too well to blush behind it.

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Wolfe, fully Thomas Clayton Wolfe
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American Novelist, Short-Story Writer and Dramatist