In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy 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.
Edith Wharton (24 January 1862 – 11 August 1937) was an American novelist, short story writer and designer.
- Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.
I loved light ever, light in eye and brain —
No tapers mirrored in long palace floors,
Nor dedicated depths of silent aisles,
But just the common dusty wind-blown day
That roofs earth's millions.
- There are two ways of spreading light: to be
The candle or the mirror that reflects it.
- "Vesalius in Zante (1564)", in North American Review (November 1902), p. 631
- It was part of her discernment to be aware that life is the only real counselor, that wisdom unfiltered through personal experience does not become a part of the moral tissues.
- A New York divorce is in itself a diploma of virtue.
- The only way not to think about money is to have a great deal of it.
- He had come on her that morning in a moment of disarray; her face had been pale and altered, and the diminution of her beauty had lent her a poignant charm. That is how she looks when she is alone! had been his first thought; and the second was to note in her the change which his coming produced.
- No insect hangs its nest on threads as frail as those which will sustain the weight of human vanity.
True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.
- After all, one knows one's weak points so well, that it's rather bewildering to have the critics overlook them & invent others that (one is fairly sure) don't exist — or exist in a less measure.
- Letter to Robert Grant (19 November 1907)
- I wonder, among all the tangles of this mortal coil, which one contains tighter knots to undo, & consequently suggests more tugging, & pain, & diversified elements of misery, than the marriage tie.
- Letter to John Hugh Smith (12 February 1909), published in The Letters of Edith Wharton (1988)
- Mrs. Ballinger is one of the ladies who pursue Culture in bands, as though it were dangerous to meet it alone.
- "Xingu" (1911), from Xingu and Other Stories (1916)
- How much longer are we going to think it necessary to be "American" before (or in contradistinction to) being cultivated, being enlightened, being humane, & having the same intellectual discipline as other civilized countries?
- Letter to Barrett Wendell (19 July 1919)
- Another unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before.
- The Writing of Fiction (1925), ch. I
- True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.
- The Writing of Fiction (1925), ch. I
- Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.
- Journal entry (March 1926)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I can't love you unless I give you up.
- In the rotation of crops there was a recognized season for wild oats; but they were not sown more than once.
- It was the old New York way of taking life "without effusion of blood": the way of people who dreaded scandal more than disease, who placed decency above courage, and who considered that nothing was more ill-bred than "scenes," except the behaviour of those who gave rise to them.
- The worst of doing one's duty was that it apparently unfitted one for doing anything else.
- 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.
- There's no such thing as old age; there is only sorrow.
- In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy 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.
- I was never allowed to read the popular American children's books of my day because, as my mother said, the children spoke bad English without the author's knowing it.
- To [Henry] James's intimates, however, these elaborate hesitancies, far from being an obstacle, were like a cobweb bridge flung from his mind to theirs, an invisible passage over which one knew that silver-footed ironies, veiled jokes, tiptoe malices, were stealing to explode a huge laugh at one's feet.
- 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.
- 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?
- Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe,
Old age flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death.