Literary Quotations
Browse quotes by source | Browse quotes by author


For broad understanding and deep feeling, you need pain and suffering. I believe really great men must experience great sadness in the world.

FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY, Crime and Punishment

Oh, pity human woe!
’T is what the happy to the unhappy owe.

HOMER, The Odyssey

To every man his little cross. (He sighs.) Till he dies. (Afterthought.) And is forgotten.

SAMUEL BECKETT, Waiting for Godot

What we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.


Listen: if everyone must suffer, in order to buy eternal harmony with their suffering, pray tell me what have children got to do with it? It’s quite incomprehensible why they should have to suffer, and why they should buy harmony with their suffering.

FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY, The Brothers Karamazov

To love life is to love God. Harder and more blessed than all else is to love this life in one's sufferings, in undeserved sufferings.

LEO TOLSTOY, War and Peace

So well is the harp of human feeling strung, that nothing but a crash that breaks every string can wholly mar its harmony; and, on looking back to seasons which in review appear to us as those of deprivation and trial, we can remember that each hour, as it glided, brought its diversions and alleviations, so that, though not happy wholly, we were not, either, wholly miserable.


Accept suffering and achieve atonement through it -- that is what you must do.

FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY, Crime and Punishment

If then my fortunes can delight my friend,
A story fruitful of events, attend:
Another's sorrow may thy ear enjoy,
And wine the lengthened intervals employ.
Long nights the now declining year bestows,
A part we consecrate to soft repose,
A part in pleasing talk we entertain;
For too much rest itself becomes a pain.
Let those, whom sleep invites, the call obey,
Their cares resuming with the dawning days
Here let us feast, and to the feast be joined
Discourse, the sweetest banquet of the mind;
Review the series of our lives, and taste
The melancholy joy of evil past:
For he who much has suffered, much will know;
And pleased remembrance builds delight on woe.

HOMER, The Odyssey

The pupil dilates in the night, and at last finds day in it, even as the soul dilates in misfortune, and at last finds God in it.

VICTOR HUGO, Les Misérables

Some kinds of baseness are nobly undergone.


It's the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy.

FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY, The Brothers Karamazov

We must go through bitter waters before we reach the sweet.


Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.


Those who have endured some misfortune will always be set apart but that it is just that misfortune which is their gift and which is their strength and that they must make their way back into the common enterprise of man for without they do so it cannot go forward and they themselves will whither in bitterness.

CORMAC MCCARTHY, All the Pretty Horses

Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching ... I have been bent and broken, but -- I hope -- into a better shape.

CHARLES DICKENS, Great Expectations

I recall distinctly how I enjoyed my suffering. It was like taking a cub to bed with you. Once in a while he clawed you--and then you really were frightened. Ordinarily you had no fear--you could always turn him loose, or chop his head off.

HENRY MILLER, Tropic of Cancer

We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.

D. H. LAWRENCE, Lady Chatterley's Lover

What bird has the heart to sing in a thicket of thorns?

Even the damned in hell have the community of their suffering.