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Sunday, 11 May 2014

Thoughts on books and writing

I have a large database of quotes that I mine for epigraphs and stuff, and they are sorted by subject.

Writer with a deadline as seen
by a publisher?

Here is a small selection.  There will be others to follow: look for the tag Treasure chest, or search on the key word Curtiosities.

Of making many books there is no end.
— Holy Bible, Ecclesiastes, 12:12.

Look for knowledge not in books but in things themselves.
— William Gilbert (1540-1603), De Magnete [All About Magnets], 1600.

Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
— Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626), Proposition Touching Amendment of Laws.

A fishmonger near the British Museum once discovered that parchment or limp vellum, though defaced by ancient ink or paint, was better than oiled paper for wrapping fish. Before the authorities caught up with him, numerous rare manuscripts had found their way into London kitchens, and from thence to the trash bin.
— Lloyd A. Brown, The Story of Maps, Dover edition, 1979, p. 6.

Whitehead caught the unhistorical spirit of the scientific community when he wrote, 'A science that hesitates to forget its founders is lost.' Yet he was not quite right, for the sciences, like other professional enterprises, do need their heroes and do preserve their names. Fortunately, instead of forgetting these heroes, scientists have been able to forget or revise their works.
— Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 138-139.

Contrast this situation with that in at least the contemporary natural sciences. In these fields the student relies mainly on textbooks until, in his third or fourth year of graduate work, he begins his own research. Many science curricula do not ask even graduate students to read in works not written specially for students.
— Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, second edition, 1970, p. 165

Another damned, thick square book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr. Gibbon?
— William Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1743-1805) (attributed).

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
— Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) (1835 - 1910), 'Notice' at the start of Huckleberry Finn, 1884.

You know in England we read their works, but seldom or never take notice of authors. We think them sufficiently paid if their books sell, and of course leave them in their colleges and obscurity, by which means we are not troubled with their vanity and impertinence.
— Sir Robert Walpole (1676 - 1745), to the philosopher, David Hume.

Some books are only cursorily to be tasted of: namely first, voluminous books, the task of a man's life to read them over; secondly, auxiliary books, only to be repaired to on occasions; thirdly, such as are mere pieces of formality, so that if you look on them you look through them, and he that peeps through the casement of the index, sees as much as if he were in the house.
— Thomas Fuller (1608 - 1661), Worthies of England.

If I were to pray for a taste which would stand me in stead under every variety of circumstances, and be a source of happiness and cheerfulness to me through life, and a shield against its ills, however things might go amiss, and the world frown on me, it would be a taste for reading.
— Sir John Herschel (1792 - 1871) 'Address to the Subscribers of the Windsor and Eton Public Libraries', Charles Mackay (ed.), A Thousand and One Gems of English Prose (n.d.), p. 73.

Publisher as seen by a writer?
King David and King Solomon
 Led merry, merry lives,
With many, many lady friends
 And many, many wives;
But when old age crept over them,
 With many, many qualms,
King Solomon wrote the Proverbs
 And King David wrote the Psalms.
— James Ball Naylor

My desire is . . . that mine adversary had written a book.
Holy Bible, Job, 31:35.

Lily: 'We looked at the books about crystals but they are so dreadful.'
— John Ruskin (1819 - 1900) The Ethics of the Dust, Ten Lectures to Little Housewives on the Elements of Crystallisation, 1866.

If you happen to have an Elzevir classic in your pocket, neither show it nor mention it.
— Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694 - 1773), Letters from a Celebrated Nobleman to his Heir.

A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.
— Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) (1835 - 1910), Mark Twain's Speeches, 1910.

Thou should'st be living at this hour,
Milton, and enjoying power.
England hath need of thee and not
Of Leavis and of Eliot.
— Heathcote William Garrod

To such a person my hope has been that my treatise would prove of the very greatest assistance. Still, such people may be expected to be quite few in number, while, as for the others, this book will be as superfluous to them as a tale told to an ass.
— Galen, On the natural faculties III, 10

I was in a Printing-House in Hell, and saw the method in which knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation.
— William Blake (1757 - 1827).

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