Sharing thousands of sparkling, moving, entrancing quotations amassed over decades of slow-savoured reading, to refresh the mind and spirit and invigorate flagging thought and flaccid prose. Dive in!

A quotation is not an excerpt.  A quotation is a cicada.  It is part of its nature never to quiet down.  Once having got hold of the air, it does not release it. 

Source: Osip Mandelstam, ‘Conversation about Dante’ (London: Notting Hill Editions, 2011), p. 108

I have discovered that, with the passing of the years, my ignorance in countless areas… has become increasingly perfected while, at the same time, a lifelong practice of haphazard readings has left me with a sort of commonplace book in whose pages I find my own thoughts put into the words of others.   

Source: Alberto Manguel, The City of Words, CBC Massey Lecture Series (Toronto: Anansi Press, 2007), p. 3

First encounter

First encounter

A first meeting between lovers comes less as an encounter with a stranger than a recognition of someone you've been waiting for. And just as we were singing that, and the wheels going like churn-owls, there was a quick footfall without, and a rush of fresh air, and a...

Intimations of radiance

Intimations of radiance

Listening time: 3 minutes.An intricate description of the effect an ancient temple can work on the spirit - a falling away of complication and anxiety and a spilling over of clarity and hope.  I had such a feeling when a handful of us were allowed to roam untrammelled...

The past as precious

The past as precious

The opening lines of a less well known novel, Mary Webb's engaging Precious Bane.  She opens her foreword with a defence of the mute and invisible past before telling the story as a recollection by the protagonist. The past is only the present become invisible and...

And I shall teach the boy

And I shall teach the boy

Listening time: under 4 minutes.The Countess of Gormenghast ponders her personal curriculum for her newborn son Titus, soon after despatching him to a régime of nanny-care for the first five years of his life.  She clearly has higher hopes for him than for his...

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