Great Throughts Treasury

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


"Suspense, that toothache of the mind." - Francis Edward Smedley

"The suspense - the fearful, acute suspense, of standing idly by while the life of one we dearly love is trembling in the balance; the racking thoughts that crowd upon the mind and make the heart beat violently, and the breath come thick; the desperate anxiety "to be doing something" to relieve the pain or lessen the danger which we have no power to alleviate; and the sinking of soul which the sad sense of our helplessness produces, what tortures can equal these, and what reflections or efforts can, in the full tide and fever of time, allay them." - Charles Dickens, fully Charles John Huffam Dickens

"Learning teaches how to carry things in suspense without prejudice till you resolve." - Francis Bacon

"Suspense, the only insupportable misfortune in life." -

"The torment of suspense is very great; and as soon as the wavering, perplexed mind begins to determine, be the determination which way soever, it will find itself at ease." -

"We all live in suspense from day to day; in other words, you are the hero of your own story." - Mary McCarthy

"I have a notion that, at big fires, a moment of extreme suspense can sometimes occur, when the jets of water slacken off, the firemen no longer climb, no one moves a muscle. Without a sound, a high black wall of masonry cants over up above, the fire blazing behind it, and, without a sound, leans, about to topple. Everyone stands waiting, shoulders tensed, faces drawn in around their eyes, for the terrible crash. That is how the silence is here." - Rainer Maria Rilke, full name René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke

"Love interest nearly always weakens a mystery because it introduces a type of suspense that is antagonistic to the detective's struggle to solve the problem. It stacks the cards, and in nine cases out of ten, it eliminates at least two useful suspects. The only effective love interest is that which creates a personal hazard for the detective - but which, at the same time, you instinctively feel to be a mere episode. A really good detective never gets married." - Raymond Chandler, fully Raymond Thornton Chandler

"I inquired what wickedness is, and I didn't find a substance, but a perversity of will twisted away from the highest substance – You oh God – towards inferior things, rejecting its own inner life and swelling with external matter." - Saint Augustine, aka Augustine of Hippo, St. Austin, Bishop of Hippo NULL

"I looked and looked at her, and I knew, as clearly as? I know that I will die, that I loved her more than anything I had ever seen or imagined on earth. She was only the dead-leaf echo of the nymphet from long ago - but I loved her, this Lolita, pale and polluted and big with another man's child. She could fade and wither - I didn't care. I would still go mad with tenderness at the mere sight of her face." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"One goes down into the well and nothing protects one from the assault of the truth." - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream. For I am by no means confining you to fiction. If you would please me - and there are thousands like me - you would write books of travel and adventure, and research and scholarship, and history and biography, and criticism and philosophy and science. By so doing you will certainly profit the art of fiction. For books have a way of influencing each other. Fiction will be much the better for standing cheek by jowl with poetry and philosophy." - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"The roses of pleasure seldom last long enough to adorn the brow of him who plucks them, and they are the only roses which do not retain their sweetness after they have lost their beauty." - Hugh Blair

"The audiences certainly have [declined]. If I go to the theatre now I find people come there to eat and smoke and talk to one another. And look like scarecrows." - Evelyn Waugh, fully Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh