Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.
The world must be all f***ed up when men travel first class and literature goes as freight.[El mundo habrá acabado de joderse el día en que los hombres viajen en primera clase y la literatura en el vagón de carga.]
The general history of art and literature shows that the highest achievements of the human mind are, as a rule, not favourably received at first.
The best brothel-scenes in literature have been written, without exception, by pious believers or pious unbelievers.
Literature was the best plaything that had ever been invented to make fun of people.[La literatura fuera el mejor juguete que se había inventado para burlarse de la gente.]
Literature is a sort of picture – a sort of picture or mirror. It connotes at once passion, expression, fine criticism, good learning, and a document. [Литература – это картина, то есть в некотором роде картина и зеркало; страсти выраженье, критика такая тонкая, поучение к назидательности и документ.]
In the nineteenth century one had to give all sorts of guarantees and lead an exemplary life in order to cleanse oneself in the eyes of the bourgeois of the sin of writing, for literature is, in essence, heresy. The situation has not changed except that it is now the Communists, that is, the qualified representatives of the proletariat, who as a matter of principle regard the writer as suspect.
In a word, literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book-friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness. The things I have learned and the things I have been taught seem of ridiculously little importance compared with their “large loves and heavenly charities.”