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Quotes of the day: Thomas Wolfe

Published Thursday, October 02, 2014 @ 11:03 PM EDT
Oct 02 2014

Thomas Clayton Wolfe (October 3, 1900 - September 15, 1938) was a major American novelist of the early 20th century. Wolfe wrote four lengthy novels, plus many short stories, dramatic works and novellas. He is known for mixing highly original, poetic, rhapsodic, and impressionistic prose with autobiographical writing. His books, written and published from the 1920s to the 1940s, vividly reflect on American culture and mores of the period, albeit filtered through Wolfe's sensitive, sophisticated and hyper-analytical perspective. He became very famous during his own lifetime. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A young man is so strong, so mad, so certain, and so lost. He has everything and he is able to use nothing.

All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.

And the eternal paradox of it is that if a man is to know the triumphant labor of creation, he must for long periods resign himself to loneliness.

Culture is the arts elevated to a set of beliefs.

Death the last voyage, the longest, and the best.

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

I believe that we are lost here in America, but I believe we shall be found. And this belief, which mounts now to the catharsis of knowledge and conviction, is for me- and I think for all of us- not only our own hope, but America's everlasting, living dream.

I think the enemy is here before us…I think the enemy is simple selfishness and compulsive greed…I think he stole our earth from us, destroyed our wealth, and ravaged and despoiled our land.

If a man has talent and can't use it, he's failed. If he uses only half of it, he has partly failed. If he uses the whole of it, he has succeeded, and won a satisfaction and triumph few men ever know.

Is this not the true romantic feeling; not to desire to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping you.

Loneliness... is and always has been the central and inevitable experience of every man.

Most of the time we think we're sick, it's all in the mind.

Perhaps this is our strange and haunting paradox here in America- that we are fixed and certain only when we are in movement.

The reason a writer writes a book is to forget a book and the reason a reader reads one is to remember it.

The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.

There are some people who have the quality of richness and joy in them and they communicate it to everything they touch. It is first of all a physical quality, then it is a quality of the spirit.

To believe that new monsters will arise as vicious as the old, to believe that the great Pandora's Box of human frailty, once opened, will never show a diminution of its ugly swarm, is to help, by just that much, to make it so forever.

You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity.

Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?


(October 3 is also the birthday of Gore Vidal.)

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