james michener Quotes

James Michener Quotes

Birth Date: 1907-02-03 (Sunday, February 3rd, 1907)
Date of Death: 1997-10-16 (Thursday, October 16th, 1997)

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Quotes

    • In 1948 I addressed some students at Washington and Lee University, and in the question-answer period one young man observed with asperity, 'But it's easy for you to write. You've traveled.'
    • I was a Navy officer writing about Navy problems and I simply stole this lovely Army nurse and popped her into a Navy uniform, where she has done very well for herself.
    • A group of two dozen nurses completely surrounded by 100,000 unattached American men.
    • On a bleak wintry morning some years ago I was summoned to the office of our naval attache at the American embassy in Kabul.
    • On Tuesday the freighter steamed through the Straits of Gibraltar and for five days plowed eastward through the Mediterranean, past islands and peninsulas rich in history, so that on Saturday night the steward advised Dr. Cullinane, 'If you wish an early sight of the Holy Land you must be up at dawn.'
    • Youth is truth.
    • Only another writer, someone who had worked his heart out on a good book which sold three thousand copies, could appreciate the thrill that overcame me one April morning in 1973 when Dean Rivers of our small college in Georgia appeared at my classroom door.
    • For some time now they had been suspicious of him.
    • Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.
    • It was the silent time before dawn, along the shores of what had been one of the most beautiful lakes in southern Africa.
    • If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.
    • In a small Polish farm community, during the fall planting season of 1981, events occurred which electrified the world, sending reverberations of magnitude to capitals as diverse as Washington, Peking and especially Moscow.
    • No invader has ever conquered the heart of Poland, that spirit which is the inheritance of sons and daughters, the private passion of families and the ancient, unbreakable tie to all those who came before.
    • I was surprised when shortly after New Year's Day of 1983, the Governor of Texas summoned me to his office, because I hadn't been aware that he knew I was in town.
    • Russia, France, Germany and China. They revere their writers. America is still a frontier country that almost shudders at the idea of creative expression.
    • The really great writers are people like Emily Bronte who sit in a room and write out of their limited experience and unlimited imagination.
    • The arrogance of the artist is a very profound thing, and it fortifies you.
    • About a billion years ago, long before the continents had separated to define the ancient oceans, or their own outlines had been determined, a small protuberance jutted out from the northwest corner of what would later become North America.
    • The chief character in this narrative is the Caribbean Sea, one of the world's most alluring bodies of water, a rare gem among the oceans, defined by the islands that form a chain of lovely jewels to the north and east.
    • I was brought up in the great tradition of the late nineteenth century: that a writer never complains, never explains and never disdains.
    • I decided (after listening to a 'talk radio' commentator who abused, vilified, and scorned every noble cause to which I had devoted my entire life) that I was both a humanist and a liberal, each of the most dangerous and vilified type. I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create a reasonably decent society. I am terrified of restrictive religious doctrine, having learned from history that when men who adhere to any form of it are in control, common men like me are in peril. I do not believe that pure reason can solve the perpetual problems unless it is modified by poetry and art and social vision. So I am a humanist. And if you want to charge me with being the most virulent kind-a secular humanist-I accept the accusation.
    • I had been sent to Mexico to cover a murder, one of a remarkable kind.
    • I feel myself the inheritor of a great background of people. Just who, precisely, they were, I have never known. I might be part Negro, might be part Jew, part Muslim, part Irish. So I can't afford to be supercilious about any group of people because I may be that people.
    • Millions upon millions of years ago, when the continents were already formed and the principal features of the earth had been decided, there existed, then as now, one aspect of the world that dwarfed all others: a mighty ocean, resting uneasily to the east of the largest continent, a restless ever-changing, gigantic body of water that would later be described as Pacific.
    • Therefore, men of Polynesia and Boston and China and Mount Fuji and the barrios of the Philippines, do not come to these islands empty-handed, or craven in spirit, or afraid to starve. There is no food here. In these islands there is no certainty. Bring your own food, your own gods, your own flowers and fruits and concepts. For if you come without resources to these islands you will perish... On these harsh terms the islands waited.
    • No man leaves where he is and seeks a distant place unless he is in some respect a failure.
    • It is difficult to be king when the gods are changing.
    • Others made jest of the missionary slogan, 'They came to a nation in darkness; they left it in light,' by pointing out: 'Of course they left Hawaii lighter. They stole every goddamned thing that wasn't nailed down.'
    • On 24 October 1944 Planet Earth was following its orbit about the sun as it has obediently done for nearly five billion years.
    • An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it.
    • I don't know who my parents were. I know nothing about my inheritance. I could be Jewish; I could be part Negro; I could be Irish; I could be Russian. I am spiritually a mix anyway, but I did have a solid childhood fortunately, because of some wonderful women who brought me up. I never had a father or a man in the house, and that was a loss, but you live with that loss.
    • I do believe that everyone growing up faces differential opportunities. With me, it was books and travel and some good teachers. With somebody else, it may be a boy scout master. With somebody else, it will be a clergyman. Somebody else, an uncle who was wiser than the father. I think young people ought to seek that differential experience that is going to knock them off dead center. I was a typical American school boy. I happened to get straight A's and be pretty good in sports. But I had no great vision of what I could be. And I never had any yearning. My job was to live through Friday afternoon, get through the week, and eat something. And then along came these differential experiences that you don't look for, that you don't plan for, but, boy, you better not miss them. The things that make you bigger than you are. The things that give you a vision. The things that give you a challenge.
    • Not too many people work in a job where, waiting out there are three or four hundred people who are paid to tear apart what you've done. And often they are brighter than you are, or they know more about the subject than you do, or they wish they had written a book themselves, or done a lot better. Or they just don't like it! And you have to live with it. I have been very well treated by the critics in the long haul.
    • Things are going to go wrong, and I think we are false to life if we don't portray it. But there is also the hope that some lucky clown is going to come along and stumble into the gold mine. And I think you are also entitled to hold out that hope.
    • I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create reasonably decent societies. I think that young people who want to understand the world can profit from the works of Plato and Socrates, the behaviour of the three Thomases, Aquinas, More and Jefferson - the austere analyses of Immanuel Kant and the political leadership of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.
    • I am terrified of restrictive religious doctrine, having learned from history that when men who adhere to any form of it are in control, common men like me are in peril.
    • A writer can make a fortune in America, but he can't make a living.
    • Although most of us know Vincent van Gogh in Arles and Paul Gauguin in Tahiti as if they were neighbors - somewhat disreputable but endlessly fascinating - none of us can name two French generals or department store owners of that period. I take enormous pride in considering myself an artist, one of the necessaries.
    • Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.
    • Gore Vidal, who wrote Williwaw at only nineteen, was another whose early book could well have been his last, but instead he wrote a series of books that varied in subject matter from the critical days of early Christianity to the dramatic eras of American history to outrageous sexual games. I envy him two novels on whose subjects I also did a great deal of work: Julian, which deals with the apostate who tried to turn back Christianity in ancient Antiochea, and 1876, which covers the amazing incident in American history that year when the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes stole the presidential election from the Democrat Samuel J.Tilden.
    • I am always interested in why young people become writers, and from talking with many I have concluded that most do not want to be writers working eight and ten hours a day and accomplishing little; they want to have been writers, garnering the rewards of having completed a best-seller. They aspire to the rewards of writing but not to the travail.
    • I am right now in the middle of a difficult writing project. And it's just as difficult now as when I started. But when I get up in the morning I am really qualified to say, 'Well, Jim, it isn't going too well, but there is nobody on the block who is better able to wrestle with it than you are, so let's get on with it.'
    • I had been educated with free scholarships. I went to nine different universities, always at public expense, and when you have that experience, you are almost obligated to give it back. It's as simple as that.
    • I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters.
    • I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.
    • I think the crucial thing in the writing career is to find what you want to do and how you fit in. What somebody else does is of no concern whatever except as an interesting variation.
    • I think young people ought to seek that experience that is going to knock them off center.
    • If a man happens to find himself, he has a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the days of his life.
    • It is unimaginable that I graduated from one of America's better colleges, yet I am totally incapable of understanding tax returns.
    • It takes courage to know when you ought to be afraid.
    • Russia, France, Germany and China. They revere their writers. America is still a frontier country that almost shudders at the idea of creative expression.
    • Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them.
    • The arrogance of the artist is a very profound thing, and it fortifies you.
    • The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both.
    • The permanent temptation of life is to confuse dreams with reality. The permanent defeat of life comes when dreams are surrendered to reality.
    • There are no insoluble problems. Only time-consuming ones.
    • Unless you think you can do better than Tolstoy, we don't need you.
    • Rice Krispies happens to be one of my favorite junk foods, just as I regard Michener as superior among junk writers.
    • Mr Michener, as timeless as a stack of National Geographics, is the ultimate Summer Writer. Just as one goes back to the cottage in Maine, so one goes back to one's Michener.
    • Texas is : 'trotting' journalism, history in a hurry.
    • james michener

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