Lice In The Locks Of Literature (And Other Curious Quotations)
  • Andre Breton

    Andre Breton

    The fact is, I did not eat every day during that period of my life.

    Said the surrealist Andre Breton, explaining the possible provenance of some of his strange and early literature.

    They rowed her in across the rolling foam —
    The cruel, crawling foam — to her grave beside the sea.

    Wrote the English author Charles Kingsley (1819 – 1875) — in response to which John Ruskin pedantically said:

    “The foam is not cruel, neither does it crawl.”


    We talk about our assholes, and we talk about our cocks, and we talk about who we fucked last night, or who we’re going to fuck tomorrow, or when we got drunk, or when we stuck a broom in our ass in the Hotel Ambassador in Prague — anybody tell one’s friends about that?

    Said poet Allen Ginsberg, in an anthologized interview.

    A writer of something occasionally like English — and a man of something occasionally like genius.

    Said Swinburne of Walt Whitman.

    A man standing up to his neck in a cesspool — and adding to its contents.

    Said Thomas Carlyle of Swinburne.

    Lice in the locks of literature.

    Said Lord Alfred Tennyson, describing critics.

    Sergei Yesenin (1895-1925) was a Russian lyric poet who, at age 30, hung himself. Vladimir Mayakovsky, his contemporary and also a Russian poet, angrily and in public print condemned Sergei Yesenin for his “cowardly” suicide. Five year later he, Mayakovsky, then shot himself.

    The earliest hints of evolutionary theory can be found in Anaximander, Sixth Century, BC.

    A damned good poet and a fair critic; but he can kiss my ass as a man.

    Said Ernest Hemingway of T.S. Eliot.

    John Keats pronounced his own name with such a thick cockney accent that his friend Leigh Hunt nicknamed him “Junkets.”

    Junkets evidently being the way “John Keats” sounded coming out of John Keats’s own mouth.


    The “Wicked Bible,” from London, 1632, omitted the word not from the 7th Commandment:

    Thou shalt commit adultery.

    The first priest was the first rogue who crossed paths with the first fool.

    Said Voltaire.

    Man is the only animal that knows he must die.

    Said Voltaire.

    A man may know that he is going to die, but he can never know that he is dead.

    Said Samuel Butler.

    Death is not an event in life; we do not live to experience death.

    Echoed Wittgenstein.

    The English writer Anthony Burgess — most famous for his novella A Clockwork Orange, which Stanley Kubrick subsequently made into a movie — had eyesight so poor that he once accidentally walked into a bank in Stratford-on-Avon and ordered a drink!

    Shakespeare’s name, you may depend on it, stands absurdly too high and will go down.

    Said Lord Byron.

    “The Shakespeare of the lunatic asylum” an early French critic called Dostoevsky.

    The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon;
    Where gott’st thou that goose look?

    Wrote Shakespeare in Act 5, Scene III of Macbeth.

    Now, friend, what means thy change of countenance?

    Substituted one William Davenant, in a hacked-up version which nevertheless played for nearly a century.

About The Author

Ray Harvey

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning at the core of my life.

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