Gene Wolfe quotes

  • You never learn how to write a novel. You just learn how to write the novel that you're writing.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Writing #Novel

  • Imagine a man who stands before a mirror; a stone strikes it, and it falls to ruin all in an instant. And the man learns that he is himself, and not the mirrored man he had believed himself to be.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Fall #Men #Mirrors

  • Women believe -- or at least often pretend to believe -- that all our tenderness for them springs from desire; that we love them when we have not for a time enjoyed them, and dismiss them when we are sated, or to express it more precisely, exhausted. There is no truth in this idea, though it may be made to appear true. When we are rigid with desire, we are apt to pretend a great tenderness in the hope of satisfying that desire; but at no other time are we in fact so liable to treat women brutally, and so unlikely to feel any deep emotion but one.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Women #Spring #Believe

  • People don't want other people to be people.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #People #Want

  • My definition of good literature is that which can be read by an educated reader, and reread with increased pleasure.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Literature #Definitions #Pleasure

  • All novels are fantasies. Some are more honest about it.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Honest #Fantasy #Novel

  • You do not characterize by telling the reader about the character. You do it by showing the character thinking, speaking and acting in a characteristic way. You simply show it and shut up.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Character #Thinking #Acting

  • I was trapped in admiration for what I had once admired, as a fly in amber remains the captive of some long-vanished pine.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Long #Amber #Admiration

  • A youthful American voice isn't particularly challenging - I've been a young American, and they're all around me. I can walk from my house to Barrington High School.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #School #Voice #House

  • We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Believe #Defining #Truth Is

  • We have treatments for disturbed persons, Nicholas. But, at least for the time being, we have no treatment for disturbing persons.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Treatment #Disturbed #Persons

  • We think that we know a man or a woman, when so much of what we know is actually that man's or that woman's situation, his or her place on the board of life. Move the pawn to the last row and see her rise in armor, sword in hand.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Moving #Men #Thinking

  • ...I rejoiced in the flaws that made her more real to me
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Real #Flaws #Made

  • That we are capable only of being what we are remains our unforgivable sin.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Sin #Unforgivable #Remains

  • What a man knows hardly matters. It is what he does.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Men #Doe #Matter

  • Then I could not help wondering what the watching gods thought of us, with our clever masks and our jokes. What we think of crickets, perhaps, whose singing we hear with pleasure, though some of us smash them with our heels when they venture into sight.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Clever #Thinking #Sight

  • When a client is driven to the utmost extremity, it is warmth and food and ease from pain he wants. Peace and justice come afterward. Rain symbolizes mercy and sunlight charity, but rain and sunlight are better than mercy and charity. Otherwise they would degrade the things they symbolize.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Pain #Rain #Justice

  • He's not rewarding us by talking to us. He's talking to us because He has something to say to us directly, as opposed to the things He says to all humanity.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Talking #Humanity

  • Do not start a story unless you have an ending in mind. You can change the story's ending if you wish, but you should always have a destination.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Mind #Wish #Stories

  • My whole life experience feeds into my writing. I think that must be true for every writer. Clearly the Army and combat were major influences; just the same, you need to understand that many of the writers we have now couldn't load a revolver.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Writing #Army #Thinking

  • Some writers say they cannot write in front of a window; many say they cannot function without almost perfect quiet. A writer with only two hours a day can write in the back of an open truck on the Interstate.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Writing #Two #Perfect

  • God is the nest we build together.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Together #Nests

  • We only have one dog now. Calamity Jane had to be put down. She was very old, and her medicine no longer controlled her seizures. Dilly is five now, I think. He's a neutered American Pit Bull Terrier, very gentle, about the color of buckskin.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Dog #Thinking #Color

  • Have a short story feature two situations, and then let them solve each other.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Writing #Two #Stories

  • Ambiguity is necessary in some of my stories, not in all. In those, it certainly contributes to the richness of the story. I doubt that thematic closure is never attainable.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Doubt #Stories #Closure

  • Men to whom wine had brought death long before lay by springs of wine and drank still, too stupefied to know their lives were past.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Spring #Wine #Past

  • I believe there is no other difference between those who are called courageous and those who are branded craven than that the second are fearful before the danger and the first after it. No one can be much frightened, certainly, during a period of great and immanent peril -- the mind is too much concentrated on the thing itself, and on the actions necessary to meet or avoid it. The coward is a coward, then, because he has brought his fear with him; persons we think cowardly will sometimes amaze us by their bravery, if they have had no forewarning of their danger.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Believe #Thinking #Differences

  • Evolution teaches us the original purpose of language was to ritualize men's threats and curses, his spells to compel the gods; communication came later.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Communication #Men #Purpose

  • So powerful is the charm of words, which for us reduces to manageable entities all the passions that would otherwise madden and destroy us.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Powerful #Passion #Charm

  • A child, not knowing what is extraordinary and what is commonplace, usually lights midway between the two, finds interest in incidents adults consider beneath notice, and calmly accepts the most improbable occurrences.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Children #Light #Two

  • I don't think anyone is more intrinsically holy. People experience God in many ways; and it seems to me that God does what the rest of us do: He chooses the means that best gets His message across.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Mean #Thinking #People

  • The same authorities who insist upon beginnings, middles, and ends, declare that Great Literature (by which they mean the stories they have been taught to admire) is about love and death, while mere popular fiction like this is about sex and violence. One reader's sex, alas, is another's love; and one's violence, another's death.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Sex #Mean #Violence

  • I get a lot of people complaining about my ambiguity, often in cases which there is nothing ambigous at all. As far as I can see, people read it when they were half stoned and listening to the TV. Then they come back and say gee, it's impossible to figure out what's going on in a story.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Writing #People #Listening

  • I could speculate, but it would be just speculation and the kind of thing that you would get in with a science fiction story. And if I was doing a science fiction story then I would come up with what can go wrong with this system.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Writing #Would Be #Fiction

  • Certain mystes aver that the real world has been constructed by the human mind, since our ways are governed by the artificial categories into which we place essentially undifferentiated things, things weaker than our words for them. [...] We believe we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Real #Believe #Mind

  • You must know the story of how the race of ancient days reached the stars, and how they bargained away all the wild half of themselves to do so, so that they no longer cared for the taste of the pale wind, no for love or lust, nor to make new songs nor to sing old ones, nor for any of the other animal things they believed they had brought with them out of the rain forests al the bottom of time--though in fact, so my uncle told me, those things brought them
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Song #Stars #Uncles

  • We choose--or choose not--to be alone when we decide whom we will accept as our fellows, and whom we will reject. Thus an eremite in a mountain is in company, because the birds and coneys, the initiates whose words live in his 'forest books,' and the winds--the messengers of the Increate--are his companions. Another man, living in the midst of millions, may be alone, because there are none but enemies and victims around him.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Book #Men #Wind

  • That was when I found out that the best way in the world to make yourself feel better when you have hit bottom is to try to get somebody else to feel better. There are certain things in life that are truly worth knowing, and that is one of the big ones.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Feel Better #Knowing #Trying

  • You seem to think that the only genuine existence evil can have is conscious existence - that no one is evil unless he admits it to himself. I disagree.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Thinking #Evil #Conscious

  • Weak people believe what is forced on them. Strong people what they wish to believe, forcing that to be real.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Strong #Real #Believe

  • Hope is a psychological mechanism unaffected by external realities.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Reality #Psychological

  • When a gift is deserved, it is not a gift but a payment.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Payment

  • There is no magic. There is only knowledge, more or less hidden.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Magic

  • It may be that the only reason childhood memories act on us so strongly is that, being the most remote we possess, they are the worst remembered and so offer the least resistance to that process by which we mold them nearer and nearer to an ideal which is fundamentally artistic, or at least nonfactual.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Memories #Childhood #May

  • There's a certain kind of lonely man who rejects love, because he believes that anyone who offers it wouldn't be a lover worth having.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Lonely #Believe #Men

  • Men are said to desire women, Severian. Why do they despise the women they obtain?
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Men #Desire #Despise

  • All time exists. That is the truth.... If the future did not exist now, how could we journey toward it? If the past does not exist still, how could we leave it behind?
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Time #Past #Journey

  • A hundred wise men have said in various ways that love transcends the power of death, and millions of fools have supposed that they meant nothing by it. At this late hour in my life I have learned what they meant. They meant that love transcends death. They are correct.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Life #Wise #Men

  • Knowledge is soon changed, then lost in the mist, an echo half-heard.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Echoes #Half #Lost

  • Science has so accustomed us to devising and accepting theories to account for the facts we observe, however fantastic, that our minds must begin their manufacture before we are aware of it.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Mind #Facts #Fantastic

  • There is no limit to stupidity. - Space itself is said to be bounded by its own curvature, but stupidity continues beyond infinity.
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Ignorance #Space #Stupidity

  • Year followed struggling year for me, and all that time I read--I suppose few have ever read so. I began, as most young people do, by reading the books I enjoyed. But I found that narrowed my pleasure...
    -- Gene Wolfe

    #Struggle #Book #Reading