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QUOTES

Edith Wharton
(1862 - 1937)


Collated by Paul Quek



Edith was one of the wisest women who have ever existed! -- Paul Quek



  1. A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.



  2. A New York divorce is in itself a diploma of virtue.



  3. After all, one knows one's weak points so well, that it's rather bewildering to have the critics overlook them and invent others.



  4. ... an unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences.



  5. And I say, if she'd ha' died, Ethan might ha' lived; and the way they are now, I don't see's there's much difference between the Fromes up at the farm and the Fromes down in the graveyard; 'cept that down there they're all quiet, and the women have got to hold their tongues.



  6. Another unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before.



  7. Art is on the side of the oppressed. Think before you shudder at the simplistic dictum and its heretical definition of the freedom of art. For if art is freedom of the spirit, how can it exist within the oppressors?



  8. As the pain that can be told is but half a pain, so the pity that questions has little healing in its touch.











  9. Before Selden left college he had learned that there are as many different ways of going without money as of spending it.



  10. Beware of monotony; it's the mother of all the deadly sins.



  11. But marriage is a one long sacrifice.











  12. Everything about her was both vigorous and exquisite.











  13. Grace Stepney's mind was like a kind of moral fly-paper, to which the buzzing items of gossip were drawn by a fatal attraction, and where they hung fast in the toils of an inexorable memory.











  14. Habit is necessary; it is the habit of having habits, of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive.



  15. Half the trouble in life is caused by pretending there isn't any.



  16. He had to deal all at once with the packed regrets and stifled memories of an inarticulate lifetime.



  17. His whole future seemed suddenly to be unrolled before him; and passing down its endless emptiness he saw the dwindling figure of a man to whom nothing was ever to happen.



  18. How much longer are we going to think it necessary to be ''American'' before (or in contradistinction to) being cultivated, being enlightened, being humane, and having the same intellectual discipline as other civilized countries?











  19. I despair of the Republic! Such dreariness, such whining sallow women, such utter absence of the amenities, such crass food, crass manners, crass landscape!! What a horror it is for a whole nation to be developing without the sense of beauty, and eating bananas for breakfast.



  20. I discovered early that crying makes my nose red, and the knowledge has helped me through several painful episodes.



  21. I don't know if I should care for a man who made life easy; I should want someone who made it interesting



  22. I feel that each case must be judged individually, on its own merits ... irrespective of stupid conventionalities... I mean, each woman's right to her liberty.



  23. I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.



  24. I have never known a novel that was good enough to be good in spite of its being adapted to the author's political views.



  25. I wonder, among all the tangles of this mortal coil, which one contains tighter knots to undo, and consequently suggests more tugging, and pain, and diversified elements of misery, than the marriage tie.



  26. If she was faintly aware of fresh difficulties ahead, she was sure of her ability to meet them: it was characteristic of her to feel that the only problems she could not solve were those with which she was familiar.



  27. If we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.



  28. In a sky of iron the points of the Dipper hung like icicles and Orion flashed his cold fires.



  29. In any really good subject, one has only to probe deep enough to come to tears.



  30. In spite of illness, in spite even of the arch enemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.



  31. In the rotation of crops there was a recognised season for wild oats; but they were not to be sown more than once.



  32. It is almost as stupid to let your clothes betray that you know you are ugly as to have them proclaim that you think you are beautiful.



  33. It is less mortifying to believe one's self unpopular than insignificant, and vanity prefers to assume that indifference is a latent form of unfriendliness.



  34. It seemed to him that the tie between husband and wife, even if breakable in prosperity, should be indissoluble in misfortune.



  35. It was harder to drown at sunrise than in darkness.



  36. It would presently be his task to take the bandage from this young woman's eyes, and bid her look forth on the world. But how many generations of the women who had gone to her making had descended bandaged to the family vault? He shivered a little, remembering some of the new ideas in his scientific books, and the much-cited instance of the Kentucky cave-fish, which had ceased to develop eyes because they had no use for them.











  37. Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.



  38. Life is the only real counselor; wisdom unfiltered through personal experience does not become a part of the moral tissue.











  39. Misfortune had made Lily supple instead of hardening her, and a pliable substance is less easy to break than a stiff one.



  40. Miss Bart was discerning enough to know that the inner vanity is generally in proportion to the outer self-depreciation.



  41. Most wrong-doing works, on the whole, less mischief than its useless confession.



  42. Mrs. Ballinger is one of the ladies who pursue Culture in bands, as though it were dangerous to meet it alone.



  43. My first few weeks in America are always miserable, because the tastes I am cursed with are all of a kind that cannot be gratified here, and I am not enough in sympathy with our ''gross public'' to make up for the lack on the aesthetic side. One's friends are delightful; but we are none of us Americans, we don't think or feel as the Americans do, we are the wretched exotics produced in a European glass-house, the most displaced and useless class on earth!



  44. My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet.











  45. Neither one of the couple cared for money, but their disdain of it took the form of always spending a little more than was prudent.



  46. No insect hangs its nest on threads as frail as those which will sustain the weight of human vanity.



  47. Nothing could more clearly give the measure of the distance that the world had travelled.











  48. Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe, old age flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death.











  49. She had never been able to understand the laws of a universe which was so ready to leave her out of its calculations.



  50. She had no tolerance for scenes which were not of her own making.



  51. ... she was not accustomed to taste the joys of solitude except in company ...



  52. Silence may be as variously shaded as speech.











  53. That terrifying product of the social system he belonged to and believed in, the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything, looked back at him like a stranger through May Welland's familiar features; and once more it was borne in on him that marriage was not the safe anchorage he had been taught to think, but a voyage on uncharted seas.



  54. The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing.



  55. The early mist had vanished and the fields lay like a silver shield under the sun. It was one of the days when the glitter of winter shines through a pale haze of spring.



  56. The mere idea of a woman's appealing to her family to screen her husband's business dishonour was inadmissible, since it was the one thing that the Family, as an institution, could not do.



  57. The only way not to think about money is to have a great deal of it.



  58. The persons of their world lived in an atmosphere of faint implications and pale delicacies, and the fact that he and she understood each other without a word seemed to the young man to bring them nearer than any explanation would have done.



  59. The worst of doing one's duty was that it apparently unfitted one for doing anything else.



  60. There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there's only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there's no reason why you shouldn't have a fairly good time.



  61. There are moments when a man's imagination so easily subdued to what it lives in, suddenly rises above its daily level and surveys the long windings of destiny.



  62. There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.



  63. There is no such thing as old age, there is only sorrow.



  64. There is too much sour grapes for my taste in the present American attitude. The time to denounce the bankers was when we were all feeding off their gold plate; not now! At present they have not only my sympathy but my preference. They are the last representatives of our native industries.



  65. They seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in the winter woods.



  66. Though he turned the pages with the sensuous joy of the book-lover, he did not know what he was reading, and one book after another dropped from his hand. Suddenly, among them, he lit on a small volume of verse which he had ordered because the name had attracted him: "The House of Life." He took it up, and found himself plunged in an atmosphere unlike any he had ever breathed in books; so warm, so rich, and yet so ineffebly tender, that it gave a new and haunting beauty to the most elementary of human passions.



  67. Time, when it is left to itself and no definite demands are made on it, cannot be trusted to move at any recognized pace. Usually it loiters; but just when one has come to count upon its slowness, it may suddenly break into a wild irrational gallup.



  68. To be able to look life in the face: that's worth living in a garret for, isn't it?



  69. True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.











  70. What's the use of making mysteries? It only makes people want to nose 'em out.



  71. When people ask for time, it's always for time to say no. Yes has one more letter in it, but it doesn't take half as long to say.







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