Quotes and a thought

Bear with me…

Henry James appears, in this quote from this article , to be on the “Art”, not the “Theory” side:

“We must grant the artist his subject, his idea, what the French call his donnée; our criticism is applied only to what he makes of it. Naturally I do not mean that we are bound to like it or find it interesting: in case we do not our course is perfectly simple—to let it alone. We may believe that of a certain idea even the most sincere novelist can make nothing at all, and the event may perfectly justify our belief; but the failure will have been a failure to execute, and it is in the execution that the fatal weakness is recorded.”

Well said; Nabokov couldn’t have said it better. It is a writer’s article, whether or not you like James, one of the better recent critical ones in the NYorker. My fellow cultured barbarians should remember that James loved Kipling, and Hemingway, who read everything, loved with whatever reservations Henry James.

On the other other hand, I am reminded of a sort of koan by Bron Fullington back in the Seventies: “American culture is a duel between the two sets of James brothers…”

“Keep on ridin’ ridin’ ridin’…” (Warren Zevon, who also read everything)

True Writing Quote

From Ron Hansen, quoting John Gardner:

“My favorite piece of advice for beginning writers comes from John Gardner, that you should write the fiction you like to read. We immediately recognize phoniness or when a writer’s heart isn’t in the material.”


This one is the only one by Bertholdt Brecht I like, at least outside of his collaborations with Kurt Weill, and one of only two great quotes by diehard Marxists I can remember. Anyone know the other? Hint: it was by the most interesting old Commie ever…

Brecht, though:

“Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?”

Two for the Books

From Joe  Queenan’s bibliophile’s memoir One for the Books:

“Great writers say things that are so beautiful, the act of repeating them makes life itself more beautiful.”

“I love to pull my books down off the shelf and read striking passages to baffled dimwits who have turned up at my house.”


.. and irreverent true quote, by Rob Macfarlane (who is as fond of Paddy Leigh Fermor as I am):

“This was the man whom the travel writer Robert Macfarlane, reviewing Ms.
Cooper’s book in The Guardian, called “a mixture of Peter Pan, Forrest
Gump, James Bond and Thomas Browne.”

Guest Quotes– Teddy Moritz

Teddy writes:

“Just finished a book by Christine Byl titled ‘Dirt Work, An Education in the Woods’. This woman worked summers on trail maintenance in Glacier National Park, and in several parks in Alaska. She talks about the grunt work, the digging and clearing and loading and discomfort of physical work. She loved it all. Money was not the reward, the work in a beautiful place and the physical satisfaction of tired muscles was. One conclusion she reaches is that ‘Labor is the process of birthing. If you push hard enough, labor delivers.’ Great quote if you’ve ever given birth!

“However, another quote anyone who has built anything, worked with tools or just cobbled something together can appreciate is this one:

” “Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten regarding upward mobility came from Joel, a co-worker in Denali: ‘Duct tape can get you through times without money a lot better than money can get you through times without duct tape.'”   Well said!

I assume you all know Teddy, who bred our Lilly, and other treeing dachshunds…


“I am not a huge fan of Rimbaud’s work, though I respect him for dropping it all and becoming a coffee trader and arms dealer in north Africa.”

(Micah Mattix)

Two Quotes

Another Marcus Aurelius, quoted by Philip Caputo in Ghosts of Tsavo:

“When Thou risest reluctantly in the morning, let this thought be present: I am rising to do the work of a human being.”

And one from Federico Calboli:
“… Stuff is eaten by dogs, broken by family and friends, sanded down by the wind, frozen by the mountains, lost by the prairie, burnt off by the sun, washed away by the rain. So you are left with dogs, family, friends, sun, rain, wind, prairie and mountains. What more do you want?”

A quote or two

From Gerry Cox: “There’s a saying in the world of antique furniture, ‘The only substitute for knowledge is money, a lot of money.’ ”  Of course the reverse is also true– see the gun featured just a post or two above…

 Not at ALL “By the Way”; Gerry has joined two of our inner guns- books- dogs- food discussion circle (me and James Caldwell, The Old Gunkie) in blogging. His Hits and Misses does something unique in the blog world: he has successive posts on Rossini and how to build a Scout (or as he insists “woods”) rifle on a Mauser action Check it out! His thoughtful book about big game hunting will be coming this fall- watch this space.

From the late indispensable Vicki Hearne via Blue Dog State: “”. . .[T]here is something more to animals. A capacity for satisfactions that come from work in the fullest sense — what is known in philosophy and in this country’s Declaration of Independence as “happiness.” . . . Happiness is often misunderstood as a synonym for pleasure or as an antonym for suffering.”  This one will get header space down the line.