Books

30 Famous Writers On Death

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but death is coming. And soon. But that’s not as depressing as it sounds when you really think about it, like these great writers have. Most of these quotes on death (except for Chekhov’s because he’s a grumpy old so and so) will make you feel better about life.

  • 30 Famous Writers On Death

    Mark Twain

    “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

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    Albert Camus

    "Since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and how don't matter."

    The Stranger
     

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    Arthur Miller

    "Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets."

    The Ride Down Mount Morgan

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    Jack Kerouac

    "I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn't remember especially because the transitions from life to death and back to life are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it. I realized it was only because of the stability of the intrinsic Mind that these ripples of birth and death took place, like the action of the wind on a sheet of pure, serene, mirror-like water. I felt sweet, swinging bliss, like a big shot of heroin in the mainline vein; like a gulp of wine late in the afternoon and it makes you shudder; my feet tingled. I thought I was going to die the very next moment. But I didn't die...” 

    On The Road

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    John Steinbeck

     

    “It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world.” 

    East of Eden

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    Tennessee Williams

    "Death commences too early--almost before you're half-acquainted with life--you meet the other.” 

    Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

     

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    Leo Tolstoy

    "Man cannot possess anything as long as he fears death. But to him who does not fear it, everything belongs. If there was no suffering, man would not know his limits, would not know himself. ” 
    War and Peace

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    Anne Frank

    "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death."

    The Diary of a Young Girl

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    Anton Chekhov

    "I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, like a mirage. You may be proud, wise, and fine, but death will wipe you off the face of the earth as though you were no more than mice burrowing under the floor, and your posterity, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn or freeze together with the earthly globe.” 

     

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    Aravind Adiga

    "The point of your living is that if you die, who's going to pay me three and a half thousand rupees a month? ”

    The White Tiger

     

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    William Faulkner

    “I could just remember how my father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.” 

    As I Lay Dying

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    Bill Bryson

    "There are only three things that can kill a farmer: lightning, rolling over in a tractor, and old age."

    The Lost Continent

     

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    Boris Pasternak

    ''What is history? Its beginning is that of the centuries of systematic work devoted to the solution of the enigma of death, so that death itself may eventually be overcome. That is why people write symphonies, and why they discover mathematical infinity and electromagnetic waves.''

    Doctor Zhivago

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    Bram Stoker

    “For life be, after all, only a waitin' for somethin' else than what we're doin'; and death be all that we can rightly depend on.” 

    Dracula

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    Charlotte Brontë

    "I feel monotony and death to be almost the same."

    Shirley

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    Cormac McCarthy

    "How surely are the dead beyond death. Death is what the living carry with them. A state of dread, like some uncanny foretaste of a bitter memory. But the dead do not remember and nothingness is not a curse. Far from it."

    Suttree

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    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    “Where is it I've read that someone condemned to death says or thinks, an hour before his death, that if he had to live on some high rock, on such a narrow ledge that he'd only room to stand, and the ocean, everlasting darkness, everlasting solitude, everlasting tempest around him, if he had to remain standing on a square yard of space all his life, a thousand years, eternity, it were better to live so than to die at once. Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be!”

    Crime and Punishment

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    E.M. Forster

    “Death destroys a man: the idea of Death saves him.”

    Howards End

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    Edgar Allan Poe

    "The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?"

    The Premature Burial

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    Emily Dickinson

    “Because I could not stop for Death – 
    He kindly stopped for me – 
    The Carriage held but just Ourselves – 
    And Immortality.” 

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    Friedrich Nietzsche

    "Everyone wants to be foremost in this future-and yet death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future! How strange that this sole thing that is certain and common to all, exercises almost no influence on men, and that they are the furthest from regarding themselves as the brotherhood of death! It makes me happy to see that men do not want to think at all of the idea of death! I would fain do something to make the idea of life to us to be more than friends in the sense of that sublime possibility. And so we will believe in our even a hundred times more worthy of their attention.”

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    Gabriel García Márquez

    "I discovered to my joy, that it is life, not death, that has no limits."

    Love in the Time of Cholera

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    George Eliot

    "Here was a man who now for the first time found himself looking into the eyes of death--who was passing through one of those rare moments of experience when we feel the truth of a commonplace, which is as different from what we call knowing it, as the vision of waters upon the earth is different from the delirious vision of the water which cannot be had to cool the burning tongue. When the commonplace 'We must all die' transforms itself suddenly into the acute consciousness 'I must die--and soon,' then death grapples us, and his fingers are cruel; afterwards, he may come to fold us in his arms as our mother did, and our last moment of dim earthly discerning may be like the first."

    Middlemarch
     

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    George Orwell

    "A normal human being does not want the Kingdom of Heaven: he wants life on earth to continue. This is not solely because he is "weak," "sinful" and anxious for a "good time." Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise. Ultimately it is the Christian attitude which is self-interested and hedonistic, since the aim is always to get away from the painful struggle of earthly life and find eternal peace in some kind of Heaven or Nirvana. The humanist attitude is that the struggle must continue and that death is the price of life."

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    Gore Vidal

    "The idea of a good society is something you do not need a religion and eternal punishment to buttress; you need a religion if you are terrified of death"

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    Haruki Murakami

    “Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.” 

    Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: 24 Stories

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    Joseph Conrad

    “I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid scepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary.” 

    Heart of Darkness

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    Lewis Carroll

    "Be sure the safest rule is that we should not dare to live in any scene in which we dare not die. But, once realise what the true object is in life — that it is not pleasure, not knowledge, not even fame itself, 'that last infirmity of noble minds' — but that it is the development of character, the rising to a higher, nobler, purer standard, the building-up of the perfect Man — and then, so long as we feel that this is going on, and will (we trust) go on for evermore, death has for us no terror; it is not a shadow, but a light; not an end, but a beginning!"

    Sylvie and Bruno

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    Marcel Proust

    "Are not the thoughts of the dying often turned towards the practical, painful, obscure, visceral aspect, towards the "seamy side" of death which is, as it happens, the side that death actually presents to them and forces them to feel, and which far more closely resembles a crushing burden, a difficulty in breathing, a destroying thirst, than the abstract idea to which we are accustomed to give the name of Death?"

    Swann's Way

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    William Shakespeare

    "Cowards die many times before their deaths;
    The valiant never taste of death but once."

    Julius Caesar