Famous Quotes & Sayings

Irving Howe Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 18 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Irving Howe.

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Famous Quotes By Irving Howe

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The knowledge that makes us cherish innocence makes innocence unattainable. — Irving Howe

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About some books we feel that our reluctance to return to them is the true measure of our admiration. It is hard to suppose that many people go back, from a spontaneous desire, to reread 1984: there is neither reason nor need to, no one forgets it. The usual distinctions between forgotten details and a vivid general impression mean nothing here, for the book is written out of one passionate breath, each word is bent to a severe discipline of meaning, everything is stripped to the bareness of terror.
Kafka's The Trial is also a book of terror, but it is a paradigm and to some extent a puzzle, so that one may lose oneself in the rhythm of the paradigm and play with the parts of the puzzle. Kafka's novel persuades us that life is inescapably hazardous and problematic, but the very 'universality' of this idea helps soften its impact: to apprehend the terrible on the plane of metaphysics is to lend it an almost soothing aura. — Irving Howe

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There is utopia and utopia. The kind imposed by an elite in the name of a historical imperative - that utopia is hell. It must lead to terror and then, terror exhausted, to cynicism and torpor. But surely there is another utopia. It cannot be willed either into existence or out of sight, it speaks for our sense of what may yet be. — Irving Howe

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Society now hovers over mankind like a crushing weight, sometimes it seems with a willful malevolence. — Irving Howe

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Good readers make much out of little. — Irving Howe

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One great flaw in the reforming passion is that in its eagerness to remedy social wrongs it tends to neglect, certainly to undervalue, the experience of those whose lives it wishes to improve. — Irving Howe

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Could we say that the short short is to other kinds of fiction somewhat as the lyric is to other kinds of poetry? The lyric does not seek meaning through extension, it accepts the enigmas of confinement. It strives for a rapid unity of impression, an experience rendered in its wink of immediacy. And so too with the short short. — Irving Howe

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I was in a garden at the Rodin Museum. For a few minutes I was alone, sitting on a bench between two long hedges of roses. Pink roses. Suddenly I felt the most powerful feeling of peace, and I had the thought that death, if it means an absorption into a reality like the one that was before me, might be all right. — Irving Howe

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Comedy speaks for civilization; farce bears an ill-concealed, sometimes unconcealed animus against civilization. Often against civility too. — Irving Howe

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No one has ever seen the self. It has no visible shape, nor does it occupy measurable space. It is an abstraction, like other abstractions equally elusive: the individual, the mind, the society — Irving Howe

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The message of guidance that neither politics nor philosophy nor religion now seems able to provide, we look for in modern literature. — Irving Howe

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There can't be much development of action or theme in such stories, but at least there is some. By contrast, in the short short the very idea of character seems to lose its significance, seems in fact to drop out of sight. We see human figures in a momentary flash. We see them in fleeting profile. We see them in archetypal climaxes which define their mode of existence. Situation tends to replace character, representative condition to replace individuality.
("Introduction") — Irving Howe

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Modernity consists in a revolt against the prevailing style, an unyielding rage against the official order. — Irving Howe

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Sometimes ... the short short appears to rest on nothing more than a fragile anecdote which the writer has managed to drape with a quantity of suggestion. A single incident, a mere anecdote - these form the spine of the short short. — Irving Howe

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Imagination is not something apart and hermetic, not a way of leaving reality behind; it is a way of engaging reality. — Irving Howe

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Taste speaks through a turn of phrase, a curl of the lip, a shrug of the shoulder: it makes an atmosphere. — Irving Howe

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Language rarely lies. It can reveal the insincerity of a writer's claims simply through a grating adjective or an inflated phrase. We come upon a frenzy of words and suspect it hides a paucity of feeling. — Irving Howe

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The cruelest thing anyone can do to Portnoy's Complaint is to read it twice. — Irving Howe