Quotes by 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. more...

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. more...

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. more...

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. more...

Good readers make much out of little. more...

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

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

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 more...

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

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. more...

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

The most glorious vision of the intellectual life is still that which is loosely called humanist: the idea of a mind committed yet dispassionate, ready to stand alone, curious, eager, skeptical. The banner of critical independence, ragged and torn though it may be, is still the best we have. more...

Comedy speaks for civilization; farce bears an illconcealed, sometimes unconcealed animus against civilization. Often against civility too. more...

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. more...

The knowledge that makes us cherish innocence makes innocence unattainable. more...

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


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