Books

The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes

An irresistible page-turner is a wonderful thing, but the very greatest novels pack sentences so prevailing that you stop reading, lower the book and simply live in the words for a moment. Here we pay tribute our 40 most powerful sentences in novels. 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes

    Of Mice And Men

    Author: John Steinbeck

    Year: 1937

    "Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other."

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 1

    Invisible Man

    Author: Ralph Ellison

    Year: 1952

    "Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 2

    Wuthering Heights

    Author: Emily Brontë

    Year: 1847

    "Terror made me cruel" 
     

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 3

    L.A. Confidential

    Author: James Ellroy

    Year: 1990

    "Some men get the world, some men get ex-hookers and a trip to Arizona. You're in with the former, but my God I don't envy the blood on your conscience."

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 4

    On The Road

    Author: Jack Kerouac

    Year: 1957

    "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 5

    1984

    Author: George Orwell

    Year: 1949

    "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 6

    The Handmaid's Tale

    Author: Margaret Atwood

    Year: 1985

    "We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 7

    The Time Machine

    Author: H.G. Wells

    Year: 1895

    “It sounds plausible enough tonight, but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning.” 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 8

    Anna Karenina

    Author: Leo Tolstoy

    Year: 1877

    "It's much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 9

    Jane Eyre

    Author: Charlotte Brontë

    Year: 1847

    "Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 10

    The Road

    Author: Cormac McCarthy

    Year: 2006

    "You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget."
     

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 11

    American Psycho

    Author: Bret Easton Ellis

    Year: 1991

    "There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there."

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 12

    Don Quixote

    Author: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

    Year: 1605

    "Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 13

    A Room With A View

    Author:  E.M. Forster

    Year: 1908

    "We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won't do harm - yes, choose a place where you won't do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 14

    Kafka on the Shore

    Author: Haruki Murakami

    Year: 2002

    "Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 15

    Ulysses

    Author: James Joyce

    Year: 1922

    "History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 16

    The Mysterious Island

    Author: Jules Verne

    Year: 1874

    "It is a great misfortune to be alone, my friends; and it must be believed that solitude can quickly destroy reason." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 17

    London Fields

    Author: Martin Amis

    Year: 1989

    "And meanwhile time goes about its immemorial work of making everyone look and feel like shit." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 18

    The Scarlet Letter

    Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne

    Year: 1850

    "No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 19

    The Picture Of Dorian Gray

    Author: Oscar Wilde

    Year: 1890

    "Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 20

    The Children Of Men

    Author: P.D. James

    Year: 1992

    "We can experience nothing but the present moment, live in no other second of time, and to understand this is as close as we can get to eternal life." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 21

    Revolutionary Road

    Author: Richard Yates

    Year: 1961

    "No one forgets the truth; they just get better at lying."

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 22

    Their Eyes Were Watching God

    Author: Zora Neale Hurston

    Year: 1937

    "She had waited all her life for something, and it had killed her when it found her." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 23

    Great Expectations

    Author: Charles Dickens

    Year: 1890

    "We need never be ashamed of our tears." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 24

    Frankenstein

    Author: Mary Shelley

    Year: 1818

    "Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 25

    Valis

    Author: Philip K. Dick

    Year: 1981

    "It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 26

    The Witches

    Author: Roald Dahl

    Year: 1983

     "It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 27

    Birdsong

    Author: Sebastian Faulks

    Year: 1993

    "I know. I was there. I saw the great void in your soul, and you saw mine." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 28

    Stardust

    Author: Neil Gaiman

    Year: 1999

    "She says nothing at all, but simply stares upward into the dark sky and watches, with sad eyes, the slow dance of the infinite stars." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 29

    The Price of Salt

    Author: Patricia Highsmith

    Year: 1952

    "Perhaps it was freedom itself that choked her." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 30

    The Good Soldier

    Author: Ford Madox Ford

    Year: 1915

    "Why can't people have what they want? The things were all there to content everybody; yet everybody has the wrong thing." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 31

    MIddlemarch

    Author: George Eliot

    Year: 1874

    "We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time; keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say, "Oh, nothing!" Pride helps; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our hurts— not to hurt others." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 32

    Beloved

    Author: Toni Morrison

    Year: 1987

    "You are your best thing" 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 33

    breakfast at tiffany's

    Author: Truman Capote

    Year: 1958

    "Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 34

    The Sound And The Fury

    Author: William Faulkner

    Year: 1929

    "Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 35

    Snow Falling on Cedars

    Author: David Guterson

    Year: 1994

    "None of those other things makes a difference. Love is the strongest thing in the world, you know. Nothing can touch it. Nothing comes close. If we love each other we're safe from it all. Love is the biggest thing there is." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 36

    In a Free State

    Author: V.S. Naipaul

    Year: 1971

    "The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 37

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    Author: Mark Haddon

    Year: 2003

    "Sometimes we get sad about things and we don't like to tell other people that we are sad about them. We like to keep it a secret. Or sometimes, we are sad but we really don't know why we are sad, so we say we aren't sad but we really are." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 38

    Moby Dick

    Author: Herman Melville

    Year: 1851

    "I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing." 

  • The 40 Most Powerful Literary Quotes 39

    Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (Different Seasons)

    Author: Stephen King

    Year: 1982

    “Some birds are not meant to be caged, that's all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.” 

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