Posts tagged ‘People’



Whatever else you may be sure of, be sure at least of this, that you are dreadfully like other people.

James Russell Lowell, “On a Certain Condescension in Foreigners” (1869)



We’re actors – we’re the opposite of people.

Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1966)



Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.

David Foster Wallace, infinite jest (1996)



APRIL 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.

Mark Twain, The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894)



…she loves what is strange and curious.

Oscar Wilde, “Some Literary Notes (2)” in Essays, Criticism and Reviews (1901)


holding the universe together

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” (1948)


a core american debate

There’s a core American debate between “On the Road” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “On the Road” suggests that happiness is to be found through freedom, wandering and autonomy. “It’s a Wonderful Life” suggests that happiness is found in the lifelong attachments that precede choice. It suggests that restraints can actually be blessings because they lead to connections that are deeper than temporary self-interest.

David Brooks, “Hey Mets, I Just Can’t Quit You,” New York Times (2012)


mistress of herself

Long before an American girl arrives at the age of marriage, her emancipation from maternal control begins; she has scarcely ceased to be a child when she already thinks for herself, speaks with freedom, and acts on her own impulse. The great scene of the world is constantly open to her view; far from seeking concealment, it is every day disclosed to her more completely, and she is taught to survey it with a firm and calm gaze. Thus the vices and dangers of society are early revealed to her; as she sees them clearly, she views them without illusions, and braves them without fear; for she is full of reliance on her own strength, and her reliance seems to be shared by all who are about her…I have been frequently surprised, and almost frightened, at the singular address and happy boldness with which young women in America contrive to manage their thoughts and their language amidst all the difficulties of stimulating conversation; a philosopher would have stumbled at every step along the narrow path which they trod without accidents and without effort. It is easy indeed to perceive that, even amidst the independence of early youth, an American woman is always mistress of herself; she indulges in all permitted pleasures, without yielding herself up to any of them; and her reason never allows the reins of self-guidance to drop, though it often seems to hold them loosely.

Alexis de Tocqueville Democracy in America, vol. 2 (1840)


american women

If anyone asks me what I think the chief cause of the extraordinary prosperity and growing power of this nation, I should answer that it is due to the superiority of their women.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1840)

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