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Saul Bellow Quotes

By

Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow

Library of America
  • "I pretended not to understand. One of life's hardest jobs, to make a quick understanding slow. I think I succeeded, thought Herzog."
    - Saul Bellow, Herzog

  • "I've discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, "To hell with you."
    - Saul Bellow

  • "If I am out of my mind, it's all right with me."
    - Saul Bellow, Herzog

  • "In an age of madness, to expect to be untouched by madness is a form of madness. But the pursuit of sanity can be a form of madness, too"
    - Saul Bellow

  • "In here, the human bosom -- mine, yours, everybody's -- there isn't just one soul. There's a lot of souls. But there are two main ones, the real soul and a pretender soul. Now! Every man realizes that he has to love something or somebody. He feels that he must go outward. 'If thou canst not love, what art thou?' Are you with me?"
    - Saul Bellow

  • "In the history of the world many souls have been, are, and will be, and with a little reflection this is marvelous and not depressing. Many jerks are made gloomy about it, for they think quantity buries them alive. That's just crazy. Numbers are very dangerous, but the main thing about them is that they humble your pride. And that's good."
    - Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King

  • "It happens because you are powerless and unable to get anywhere, to obtain justice or have requital, and therefore in yourself you labor, you wage and combat, settle scores, remember insults, fight, reply, deny, blab, denounce, triumph, outwit, overcome, vindicate, cry, persist, absolve, die and rise again. All by yourself? Where is everybody? Inside your breast and skin, the entire cast."
    - Saul Bellow, All Marbles Accounted for

  • "It is wrong to turn a man (a subject) into a thing (an object). By means of spiritual dialogue, the I-It relationship becomes an I-Thou relationship. God comes and goes in man's soul. And men come and go in each other's souls. Sometimes they come and go in each other's beds, too."
    - Saul Bellow, Herzog

  • "It's usually the selfish people who are loved the most. They do what you deny yourself, and you love them for it. You give them your heart."
    - Saul Bellow

  • "Live or die but don't poison everything."
    - Saul Bellow

  • "Myself is thus and so, and will continue thus and so. And why fight it? My balance comes from instability."
    - Saul Bellow

  • "Ninety per cent of life is a nightmare, do you think I am going to get it rounded up to hundred per cent?"
    - Saul Bellow, Humboldt's Gift

  • "Nobody asks you to love the whole world, only to be honest, ehrlich. Don't have a loud mouth. The more you love people the more they'll mix you up. A child loves, a person respects. Respect is better than love."
    - Saul Bellow,
  • The Adventures of Augie March

  • "One of the booby traps of freedom--which is bordered on all sides by isolation--is that we think so well of ourselves. I now see that I have helped myself to the best cuts at life's banquet."
    - Saul Bellow

  • "People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned."
    - Saul Bellow

  • "People don't realize how much they are in the grip of ideas. We live among ideas much more than we live in nature."
    - Saul Bellow

  • "Readiness to answer all questions is the infallible sign of stupidity."
    - Saul Bellow, Herzog

  • "The challenge of modern freedom, or the combination of isolation and freedom which confronts you, is to make yourself up. The danger is that you may emerge from the process as a not-entirely-human creature."
    - Saul Bellow, Ravelstein: Readers Guide

  • "There is no limit to the amount of intelligence invested in ignorance when the need for illusion runs deep."
    - Saul Bellow

  • "Unexpected intrusions of beauty. That is what life is."
    - Saul Bellow, Herzog

  • "Unless you're completely exploded, there's always something to be grateful for." - Saul Bellow, Herzog

  • "We are funny creatures. We don't see the stars as they are, so why do we love them? They are not small gold objects, but endless fire."
    - Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King

  • "What good, what lasting good is there in me? Is there nothing else between birth and death but what I can get out of this perversity - only a favorable balance of disorderly emotions? No freedom? Only impulses? And what about all the good I have in my heart - does it mean anything? Is it simply a joke? A false hope that makes a man feel the illusion of worth? And so he goes on with his struggles. But this good is no phony. I know it isn't. I swear it."
    - Saul Bellow, Herzog

  • "When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice"
    - Saul Bellow

  • "With one long breath, caught and held in his chest, he fought his sadness over his solitary life. Don't cry, you idiot! Live or die, but don't poison everything..."
    - Saul Bellow, Herzog

  • "You can spend the entire second half of your life recovering from the mistakes of the first half."
    - Saul Bellow, Seize the Day

  • "You have to fight for your life. That's the chief condition on which you hold it."
    - Saul Bellow, Herzog

  • "You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write."
    - Saul Bellow

  • "You think history is the history of loving hearts? You fool! Look at these millions of dead. Can you pity them, feel for them? You can nothing! There were too many. We burned them to ashes, we buried them with bulldozers. History is the history of cruelty, not love as soft men think."
    - Saul Bellow, Herzog

  • "You want to make us able to live with the void. Not lie ourselves into good-naturedness, trust, ordinary middling human considerations, but to question as has never been questioned before, relentlessly, with iron determination, into evil, through evil, past evil, accepting no abject comfort. The most absolute, the most piercing questions."
    - Saul Bellow, Herzog

  • "You were lucky even then to make yourself understood. And this happened over and over and over with everyone you met. You had to translate and translate, explain and explain, back and forth, and it was the punishment of hell itself not to understand or be understood."
    - Saul Bellow, Seize the Day

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