My Five Favorite Literary Quotes

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I love that feeling when I’m reading a book and I come across an amazing quote, whether it’s a snatch of dialogue or the internal thoughts of a character. I decided I’d make a short list of five very powerful literary quotes that I think about often.

1. “All novels, all poetry, are built on the neverending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.” — John Steinbeck

This is from the novel East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It was a rather slow going book for me (considering it was rather lengthy and I’m still intimidated by big books) but as soon as I came across this passage, I felt that it was my reward for delving into so dense a book. It’s such a simple and powerful argument for the “good versus evil” theme that pops up in nearly every book, that neverending contest that can never be written of enough because it is an immortal truth.



2. “I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?” — C.S. Lewis

Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis is such an underrated book, and this quote might be a little more powerful within the context of the scene (which I will not spoil here) and the buildup to that scene, but I wanted to include it here because I really do love that book. It was beautifully written and the interactions between the characters were so good.



3. “Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.” —
William Shakespeare

This is from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, which is still one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. Brian Jacques references this quote in The Legend of Luke, a book from the Redwall Series.



4. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” — Antione de Saint-Exupéry

Ahh, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ❤ This will not be the last time I talk about The Little Prince, this I can promise. 



5. “But if it be a sin to covet honor, then I am the most offending soul alive.” William Shakespeare

Another Shakespeare work! This quote is from Henry V, another one of my favorites. I have most of the Saint Crispin’s Day speech memorized, but this line always sticks out to me. It’s also a line that I recite when I’m doing something like trying to carry in all of the groceries in one trip because it is an honorable feat! 



I’ll spare you some of the more obvious quotes I would ordinarily write, like quotes from Narnia, Lord of the Rings, The Princess Bride, and what have you, because I’d like to give some of these quotes some love and attention!  

What are some of your favorite literary quotes or quotable works? I’d love to read them in the comments below! 

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