Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself, and the more he tries to conceal himself the more clearly his character appear in spite of him." - Samuel Butler

"Fiction is no longer a mere amusement; but transcendent genius, accommodating itself to the character of the age, has seized upon this province of literature, and turned fiction from a toy into a mighty engine." - William Ellery Channing

"A great memory does not make a mind, any more than a dictionary is a piece of literature." - Charles B. Newcomb

"The most creative job in the world. It involves taste, fashion, decorating, recreation, education, transportation, psychology, cuisine, designing, literature, medicine, handicraft, art, horticulture, economics, government, community relations, pediatrics, geriatrics, entertainment, maintenance, purchasing, direct mail, law, accounting, religion, energy, and management. Anyone who can handle all those has to be somebody special. She is. She’s a homemaker." - United Technologies Corporation NULL

"Anyone who is thoroughly familiar with the language and literature of a people cannot be wholly its enemy." - Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

"In science, read, by preference, the newest works; in literature, the oldest. The classic literature is always modern. New books revive and redecorate old ideas; old books suggest and invigorate new ideas." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"A man's work whether in music, painting or literature is always a portrait of himself." - Samuel Butler

"Literature is "The expression of a nation's mind in writing."" - William Ellery Channing

"The artist (in literature) appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom; to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition - and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain." - Joseph Conrad, born Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski

"Literature is a transmission of power." - Charles P. Curtis

"What is so wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote, and brings to birth in us also the creative impulse." - E. M. Forster, fully Edward Morgan Forster

"The decline of literature indicates the decline of a nation; the two keep pace in their downward tendency." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Somewhere among the youth of today are minds capable of discovering ways to world peace, ways to deeper and more fulfilling lives, ways to new appreciations of beauty in art or literature or music, just as there have been minds capable of splitting the atom. Ours is the task of breaking through the thought barrier which keeps our young people from realizing their creative potentiality." - Samuel B. Gould

"A single mind can acquire a fair knowledge of the whole field of science, and find plenty of time to spare for ordinary human affairs. Not many people take the trouble to do so. But without a knowledge of science one cannot understand current events. That is why our modern our modern literature and art are mostly so unreal." - J. B. S. Haldane, fully John Burdon Sanderson Haldane

"Of all intellectual friendships, none are so beautiful as those which subsist between old and ripe men and their younger brethren in science or literature or art. It is by; these private friendships, even more than by public performance, that the tradition of sound thinking and great doing is perpetuated from age to age." - Philip G. Hamerton, fully Philip Gilbert Hamerton

"A people’s literature is the great textbook for real knowledge of them. The writings of the day show the quality of the people as no historical reconstruction can." - Edith Hamilton

"Every man's memory is his private literature." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"A myth is a collective 'dream' of an entire people at a certain point in their history... But a myth not only lives in literature and imagination, it immediately finds its way into the behavior and attitudes of the culture - into the practical daily lives of the people." - Robert A. Johnson

"He that recalls the attention of mankind to any part of learning which time has left behind it, may be truly said to advance the literature of his own age." -

"Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book friends. They talk me without embarrassment or awkwardness." -

"Literature exists for the sake of the people - to refresh the weary, to console the sad, to hearten the dull and downcast, to increase man’s interest in the world, his joy of living, and his sympathy in all sorts of the condition of man." -

"Literature is news that stays news." -

"The illusion of art is to make one believe that great literature is very close to life, but exactly the opposite is true. Life is amorphous, literature is formal." -

"Literature... becomes the living memory of a nation." -

"Literature transmits incontrovertible condensed experience... from generation to generation. In this way literature becomes the living memory of a nation." -

"All men have poetry in their hearts, and it is necessary for them, as much as possible, to express their feelings. For this they must have a medium, moving and pliant, which can refreshingly become their own, age after age. All great languages undergo change. Those languages which resist the spirit of change are doomed and will never produce great harvests of thought and literature. When forms become fixed, the spirit either weakly accepts its imprisonment or rebels. All revolutions consists of the “within” fighting against invasion from “without”... All great human movements are related to some great idea." -

"Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but moulds it to its purpose." -

"Art, not less eloquently than literature, teaches her children to venerate the single eye." - Robert Aris Willmott

"It is that faculty by which we discover and enjoy the beautiful, the picturesque, and the sublime in literature, art, and nature; which recognizes a noble thought, as a virtuous mind welcome a pure sentiment by an involuntary glow of satisfaction. While the principle of perception is inherent in the soul, it requires a certain amount of knowledge to draw out and direct it." - Robert Aris Willmott

"I found that literature was a good staff but a bad crutch." -

"Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others." -

"What could be more charming than a boy before he has begun to cultivate his intellect? He is beautiful to look at; he gives himself no airs; he understands the meaning of art and literature instinctively; he goes about enjoying his life and making other people enjoy theirs." -

"If we ask what literature is about, we have to answer that it is about the mystery of the human heart and its passage through time." - Hugh Dinwiddy

"Lowering consumption need not deprive people of goods and services that really matter. To the contrary, life’ most meaningful and pleasant activities are often paragons of environmental virtue. The preponderance of things that people name as their most rewarding pastimes are infinitely sustainable. Religious practice, conversation, family and community gatherings, theater, music, dance, literature, sports, poetry, artistic and creative pursuits, education, and appreciation of nature all fit readily into a culture of permanence – a way of life that can endure through countless generations." - Alan Thein Durning

"Art is revelation. If painting shows only what is there, it is not art. Art like fine music or high literature must carry the beholder beyond this world and all that appears in it, transport him to the shores of the eternal world and enable him to see and hear the things not given to the tongue of man to utter." - James M. Gillis

"Faith is the song of life. Woe to him who wishes to rob life of its splendid poetry. The whole mass of prosaic literature and knowledge is of value only when it is founded on the perception of the poetry of life." - Abraham Isaac Kook

"In all ages, literature aims at the interpretation of the universe and a deep perception of humanity by means of language." - Yukio Mishima

"The illusion of art is to make one believe that great literature is very close to life, but the exact opposite is true. Life is amorphous, literature is formal." - Françoise Sagan, born Francoise Quoirez

"Man has unveiled secrets which might have been thought undiscoverable. Much has been achieved in the realm of art, science, literature, and religion. Is all this to end because so few are able to think of man rather than of this or that group of men?" - U Thant

"What is so wonderful about literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote." -

"Where would we be without prophets, visionaries, nonconformists, ironists, and dissenters? The great ethical traditions, both religious and secular, as well as literature and the arts, are filled with eccentrics - complex characters who challenge, inspire, and irritate those around them. They flaunt conventional wisdom, stubbornly champion new and unsettling ideals, love those whom others deem unlovable, or are themselves considered strange and unlovable." - Elizabeth Kiss (pronounced "quiche")

"The total absence of humor from the Bible is one of the most singular things in all literature." - Alfred North Whitehead

"You can never read bad literature too little, nor good literature too much. Bad books are intellectual poison; they destroy the mind." - Arthur Schopenhauer

"Essentially religion is not in history. The essence of religion is pure, timeless awareness; and since this is participation in the Immutable, it is by its very nature immune to history. Mentally and doctrinally, however, the awareness is explained differently indifferent religions. However, religion as an institution controlling life in every domain - philosophy, art, literature, social life, etc. - is subject to history. As an institution every religion changes, and the change is always a decline... a decline arrested by periodical restitutions." - Arthur W Osborn

"You know who the critics are? The men who failed in literature and art." - Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield

"Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself." - Henry Miller, aka Henry Valentine Miller

"Develop an interest in life as you see it - the people, things, literature, music. The world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls, and interesting people. Forget yourself." - Henry Miller, aka Henry Valentine Miller

"The Bible stands alone in human literature in its elevated conception of manhood, in character and conduct." - Henry Ward Beecher

"Literature is the memory of humanity." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

"Education does not mean teaching people what they do not know. It means teaching them to behave as they do not behave. It is not teaching the youth the shapes of letters and the tricks of numbers, and then leaving them to turn their arithmetic to roguery, and their literature to lust. It means, on the contrary, training them into the perfect exercise and kingly continence of their bodies and souls. It is a painful, continual and difficult work, to be done by kindness, by watching, by warning, by precept and by praise, but above all - by example." - John Ruskin