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Some Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature

“I am not well read, but what I have read I have read well.”


I am trying to get starting writing each day. Each day I find an excuse not to start. Yesterday I thought I might find inspiration in what some consider to be the most beautiful sentences in literature. What follows is not a collection from some literature professor but from Buzzfeed and Thinking Well. Perhaps not the best sources but I found most of the suggestions to be inspiring. I have a clear affinity for the romantic and the metaphorical.

Here they are:

"She wasn't doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together."

—J. D. Salinger, "A Girl I Knew"

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am."

—Sylvia Plath, The Bell JaR

"Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly."

—Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living."

—Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

“What are men to rocks and mountains?"

—Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun. Yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.”

—Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

"'Dear God,' she prayed, 'let me be something every minute of every hour of my life.'"

—Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

"The curves of your lips rewrite history."

—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

"A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it."

—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

— Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

"As Estha stirred the thick jam he thought Two Thoughts and the Two Thoughts he thought were these: a) Anything can happen to anyone. and b) It is best to be prepared."

—Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

“If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me."

—W. H. Auden, "The More Loving One"

"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good."

—John Steinbeck, East of Eden

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

—William Shakespeare, Hamlet

“It might be that to surrender to happiness was to accept defeat, but it was a defeat better than many victories."

—W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

“At the still point, there the dance is.”

—T. S. Eliot, "Four Quartets"

"Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering."

—Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

"In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart."

—Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank

“How wild it was, to let it be."

—Cheryl Strayed, Wild

"She was lost in her longing to understand."

—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

"She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world."

—Kate Chopin, "The Awakening"

"We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered."

—Tom Stoppard, Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead

“The half life of love is forever."

—Junot Diaz, This Is How You Lose Her

"I celebrate myself, and sing myself."

—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

“There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights."

—Bram Stroker, Dracula

"Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet."

—L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

"I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark."

—Raymond Carver, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love"

“I would always rather be happy than dignified."

—Charlotte Brontë , Jane Eyre

"I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams"

—W. B. Yeats, "Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven"

“It frightened him to think what must have gone to the making of her eyes."

—Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

"For poems are like rainbows; they escape you quickly."

—Langston Hughes, The Big Sea

"I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night."

—Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“Journeys end in lovers meeting."

—William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

"It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."

—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

"One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us."

—Cassandra Clare, The Infernal Devices

“There is a sense in which we are all each other's consequences.”

—. Wallace Stegner, All The Little Live Things

“Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

— Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

“You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.”

—. Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

—. Stephen Chbosky, Perks Of Being A Wallflower

“I know so many last words. But I will never know hers.”

– John Green, Looking For Alaska

“Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart.”

– E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

“I’ve never had a moment’s doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one. My reason for life.”

—. Ian McEwan, Atonement

“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.”

– Jack Kerouac, On The Road

“She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”

— Toni Morrison, Beloved

“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.”

— Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.”

– Cormac McCarthy, The Road

“Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you’ll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.”

— Janet Fitch, White Oleander

“You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”

– Margaret Mitchell, Gone With The Wind

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.”

— Jane Austen, Persuasion

“I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love.”

— Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love In The Time Of Cholera

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie The Pooh

“The heart dies a slow death, shedding each hope like leaves until one day there are none. No hopes. Nothing remains.”

—Arthur Golden, Memoirs Of A Geisha

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

— J. D. Salinger, The Catcher In The Rye

“There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

– John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”

— Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”

– Factotum, Charles Bukowksi

“Writers don’t make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don’t work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck’s book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealousy, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch facedown and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man’s stupid words. And for this, as I said, we are paid a dollar. We are worth so much more.”

— Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller

“I let it go. It’s like swimming against the current. It exhausts you. After a while, whoever you are, you just have to let go, and the river brings you home.”

– Five Quarters Of The Orange, Joanne Harris

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