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Meanwhile in my head, I'm undergoing open-heart surgery - Anne Sexton
202"My novel is going nowhere, I don’t have an income, I’m quite evidently insane. I can’t work, and yet I know I’ll become completely sterile if I can’t have this girl. I would never have thought I could be so foolish as this. And the knowledge of my own folly gives me happiness to cancel out my unhappiness, and I am more confused than ever […] With all my skepticism, for all my self-analysis, I’m in love. And I know it’s poison." - Joseph Roth, from a letter to Friedrich Trangott Gubler
265"But you are a poet and need not go into the fields to bring back flowers. Don’t complain about not having learned. There is nothing to know. Even what is called technical competence is not properly speaking knowledge, because it does not exist outside of the mysterious association of our memory and the skill acquired by our own inventiveness when it comes in contact with words. Knowledge, in the sense of a thing that is all done outside ourselves and that can be learned as in the sciences, counts for nothing in art. On the contrary, it is when the scientific connections between words have disappeared from our minds and have taken on a life in which the chemical elements are forgotten in a new individuality, that the technique, the skill that recognizes their antipathies, humors their wishes, knows their beauty, conveys their forms, assorts their affinities, can begin. And this exists only when a creature is a soul and no longer so much carbon, so much phosphorus, etc. So you love words, you don’t harm them, you play with them, you confide your secrets to them, you teach them how to paint, you teach them how to sing." - Marcel Proust, from The Letters Of Marcel Proust
600"You go away, and I seem not to exist for you. I don’t understand. I don’t know what you want, or what I am! You write to me like a lover, you treat me like a casual acquaintance! Casual acquaintance, no; but a friend, yes. I’ve always told you I foresaw that solution, and accepted it in advance. But a certain consistence of affection is a fundamental part of friendship. One must know what to hold on to. And just as I think we have reached that stage, you revert abruptly to the other relation, and assume that I have noticed no change in you, and that I have not suffered or wondered at it, but have carried on my life in serene insensibility until you chose to enter again suddenly into it. I have borne all these inconsistencies and incoherences as long as I could, because I love you so much, and because I am so sorry for things in your life that are difficult and wearing—but I have never been capricious or exacting, I have never, I think, added to those difficulties, but have tried to lighten them for you by a frank and faithful friendship. Only now a sense of my worth, and a sense also that I can bear no more, makes me write this to you." - Edith Wharton, from a letter to Morton Fullerton
775"I am fearfully unstable. I pass from hot to cold in an instant, without any reason […] And yet your caring for me as you do almost overwhelms me. It is so real, and so strange. Why should you? What am I really except a pleasant attractive creature?" - Virginia Woolf, from a letter to Leonard Woolf
799"I’m half afraid of myself. I sometimes feel that no one ever has or ever can share something—It’s the thing that makes you call me like a hill, or a rock. Again, I want everything—love, adventure, intimacy, work. (Can you make any sense out of this ramble? I am putting down one thing after another.) So I go from being half in love with you, and wanting you to be with me always, and known everything about me, to the extreme of wildness and aloofness." - Virginia Woolf, from a letter to Leonard Woolf
137"How strange!—it makes me laugh. You imagine I imagine you are mean—how mean of me! I could never mean that you are mean or even slightly mercenary, for I know,—need I tell you so, that you’re generous more than ordinary. How could you think that I should sink to such a depth of base suggestion?—it makes me blush and crimson flush to be the object of such a question. But what ever made you think such things? I never for a moment doubt your splendid generosity—nor doubt you in any way except to wonder whether I shall ever get you: You are very fantastical, my dear, in your imaginings: they really amuse me, like Alice in Wonderland." - D.H. Lawrence, from a letter to Louie Burrows
328"You accepted my desire to leave you free, free of everything. You knew I meant it. But as soon as as I freed you of all anxiety, you went back to your self-engrossed life. And I knew it. Friday I said to myself: I won’t let Henry come. He loves me selfishly, only for the good things. He doesn’t really care about me. And today you proved it. You felt well, healthy, carefree. You didn’t care about my life. You saw me after ten days and were cold. You didn’t even caress me. You didn’t come into the house to be gentle, after your callousness. You killed it. You say I’m touchy. So are you. Only, I spend my life watching over your touchiness. It may be touchy to want to talk to you as I did today—confide in you—and get the response I got. The only time I leaned on you, needed you. I needed you, Henry! The truth is you are completely happy in Clichy, alone. I will see that you will continue to have your security, your independence. But that is all, Henry. All the rest is dead." - Anaïs Nin, from a letter to Henry Miller
652"Anyway, my soul is hungup right now and I gotta make a move soon…" - Jack Kerouac, from a letter to Neal Cassady
264"…and all I want to talk about is myself, damn it son of a bitch." - Jack Kerouac, from a letter to Neal Cassady
275"I must depend on just what is in me, there is no one I can go to, I wish there were—" - Katherine Anne Porter, from a letter to Caroline Gordon
428"Now I must miss you; I try not, but cannot yet help it." - Margaret Fuller, from a letter to James Nathan
955"I love you enormously. I’m spending a little time away from you—quite absurd and contingent. I would so like to see you, my stubborn little thing, and tell you my stories and hold your hand. You are my love, you good little being. Far from you I measure the nothingness of the flesh, and I am not having much fun." - Jean-Paul Sartre, from Witness to My Life: The Letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone De Beauvoir
219"You recognize your insignificance?…Recognize it before God; perhaps, too, in the presence of beauty, intelligence, nature, but not before people. Among people you must be conscious of your dignity. Why, you are not a rascal, you are an honest man, aren’t you? Well, respect yourself as an honest man and know that an honest man is not something worthless. Don’t confound "being humble" with "recognizing one’s worthlessness."" - Anton Chekhov, from a letter to Mihail Chekhov
249"I am not ambitious—unless negatively. I, now and then feel stirred up to excel a fool, merely because I hate to let a fool imagine that he may excel me. Beyond this I feel nothing of ambition." - Edgar Allan Poe, from The Collected Letters Of Edgar Allan Poe
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