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Samuel Butler

Dátum narodenia: 4. december 1835
Dátum úmrtia: 18. jún 1902

Samuel Butler was the iconoclastic English author of the Utopian satirical novel Erewhon and the semi-autobiographical Bildungsroman The Way of All Flesh, published posthumously in 1903. Both have remained in print ever since. In other studies he examined Christian orthodoxy, evolutionary thought, and Italian art, and made prose translations of the Iliad and Odyssey that are still consulted today. He was also an artist.

„I do not like having to try to make myself like things; I like things that make me like them at once and no trying at all.“

—  Samuel Butler

On Knowing what Gives us Pleasure, ii
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part XIII - Unprofessional Sermons
Kontext: I should like to like Schumann’s music better than I do; I dare say I could make myself like it better if I tried; but I do not like having to try to make myself like things; I like things that make me like them at once and no trying at all.

„Not being written, it is not always easy to know what it is, but this has got to be done.“

—  Samuel Butler

The Law
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part VII - On the Making of Music, Pictures, and Books
Kontext: The written law is binding, but the unwritten law is much more so. You may break the written law at a pinch and on the sly if you can, but the unwritten law — which often comprises the written — must not be broken. Not being written, it is not always easy to know what it is, but this has got to be done.

„There is an eternal antagonism of interest between the individual and the world at large.“

—  Samuel Butler

The Individual and the World
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part I - Lord, What is Man?
Kontext: There is an eternal antagonism of interest between the individual and the world at large. The individual will not so much care how much he may suffer in this world provided he can live in men’s good thoughts long after he has left it. The world at large does not so much care how much suffering the individual may either endure or cause in this life, provided he will take himself clean away out of men’s thoughts, whether for good or ill, when he has left it.

„I find the nicest and best people generally profess no religion at all, but are ready to like the best men of all religions.“

—  Samuel Butler

Religion
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part II - Elementary Morality
Kontext: Is there any religion whose followers can be pointed to as distinctly more amiable and trustworthy than those of any other? If so, this should be enough. I find the nicest and best people generally profess no religion at all, but are ready to like the best men of all religions.

„Propositions prey upon and are grounded upon one another just like living forms.“

—  Samuel Butler

Ramblings In Cheapside (1890)
Kontext: Propositions prey upon and are grounded upon one another just like living forms. They support one another as plants and animals do; they are based ultimately on credit, or faith, rather than the cash of irrefragable conviction. The whole universe is carried on on the credit system, and if the mutual confidence on which it is based were to collapse, it must itself collapse immediately. Just or unjust, it lives by faith; it is based on vague and impalpable opinion that by some inscrutable process passes into will and action, and is made manifest in matter and in flesh; it is meteoric — suspended in mid-air; it is the baseless fabric of a vision to vast, so vivid, and so gorgeous that no base can seem more broad than such stupendous baselessness, and yet any man can bring it about his ears by being over-curious; when faith fails, a system based on faith fails also.

„To think of a thing they must be got rid of: they are the clothes that thoughts wear—only the clothes. I say this over and over again, for there is nothing of more importance.“

—  Samuel Butler

Life and Habit http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/lfhb10h.htm, ch. 5 (1877)
Kontext: "Words, words, words," he writes, "are the stumbling-blocks in the way of truth. Until you think of things as they are, and not of the words that misrepresent them, you cannot think rightly. Words produce the appearance of hard and fast lines where there are none. Words divide; thus we call this a man, that an ape, that a monkey, while they are all only differentiations of the same thing. To think of a thing they must be got rid of: they are the clothes that thoughts wear—only the clothes. I say this over and over again, for there is nothing of more importance. Other men's words will stop you at the beginning of an investigation. A man may play with words all his life, arranging them and rearranging them like dominoes. If I could think to you without words you would understand me better."

„An idea must not be condemned for being a little shy and incoherent; all new ideas are shy when introduced first among our old ones.“

—  Samuel Butler

Incoherency of New Ideas
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part XIV - Higgledy-Piggledy
Kontext: An idea must not be condemned for being a little shy and incoherent; all new ideas are shy when introduced first among our old ones. We should have patience and see whether the incoherency is likely to wear off or to wear on, in which latter case the sooner we get rid of them the better.

„Ideas and opinions, like living organisms, have a normal rate of growth which cannot be either checked or forced beyond a certain point.“

—  Samuel Butler

The Art of Propagating Opinion
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part X - The Position of a HomoUnius Libri
Kontext: Ideas and opinions, like living organisms, have a normal rate of growth which cannot be either checked or forced beyond a certain point. They can be held in check more safely than they can be hurried. They can also be killed; and one of the surest ways to kill them is to try to hurry them.

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„As a general rule philosophy is like stirring mud or not letting a sleeping dog lie.“

—  Samuel Butler

Philosophy
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part XX - First Principles
Kontext: As a general rule philosophy is like stirring mud or not letting a sleeping dog lie. It is an attempt to deny, circumvent or otherwise escape from the consequences of the interlacing of the roots of things with one another.

„If I were to start as a God or a prophet I think I should take the line: "Thou shalt not believe in me. Thou shalt not have me for a God.“

—  Samuel Butler

Samuel Butler's Notebooks (1912) self censored "d_____d" in original publication
Kontext: It is the manner of gods and prophets to begin: "Thou shalt have none other God or Prophet but me." If I were to start as a God or a prophet I think I should take the line: "Thou shalt not believe in me. Thou shalt not have me for a God. Thou shalt worship any d_____d thing thou likest except me." This should be my first and great commandment, and my second should be like unto it.

„Everything matters more than we think it does, and, at the same time, nothing matters so much as we think it does.“

—  Samuel Butler

Sparks
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part XIV - Higgledy-Piggledy
Kontext: Everything matters more than we think it does, and, at the same time, nothing matters so much as we think it does. The merest spark may set all Europe in a blaze, but though all Europe be set in a blaze twenty times over, the world will wag itself right again.

„Animals and plants cannot understand our business, so we have denied that they can understand their own.“

—  Samuel Butler

Organic and Inorganic
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part VI - Mind and Matter
Kontext: Animals and plants cannot understand our business, so we have denied that they can understand their own. What we call inorganic matter cannot understand the animals’ and plants’ business, we have therefore denied that it can understand anything whatever.

„The written law is binding, but the unwritten law is much more so.“

—  Samuel Butler

The Law
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part VII - On the Making of Music, Pictures, and Books
Kontext: The written law is binding, but the unwritten law is much more so. You may break the written law at a pinch and on the sly if you can, but the unwritten law — which often comprises the written — must not be broken. Not being written, it is not always easy to know what it is, but this has got to be done.

„It is in the uncompromisingness with which dogma is held and not in the dogma or want of dogma that the danger lies.“

—  Samuel Butler, kniha The Way of All Flesh

Ch. 67 http://books.google.com/books?id=wZAEAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA338
The Way of All Flesh (1903)
Kontext: As the days went slowly by he came to see that Christianity and the denial of Christianity after all met as much as any other extremes do; it was a fight about names — not about things; practically the Church of Rome, the Church of England, and the freethinker have the same ideal standard and meet in the gentleman; for he is the most perfect saint who is the most perfect gentleman. Then he saw also that it matters little what profession, whether of religion or irreligion, a man may make, provided only he follows it out with charitable inconsistency, and without insisting on it to the bitter end. It is in the uncompromisingness with which dogma is held and not in the dogma or want of dogma that the danger lies.

„Sensible painting, like sensible law, sensible writing, or sensible anything else, consists as much in knowing what to omit as what to insist upon.“

—  Samuel Butler

Detail
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part IX - A Painter's Views on Painting
Kontext: One reason why it is as well not to give very much detail is that, no matter how much is given, the eye will always want more; it will know very well that it is not being paid in full. On the other hand, no matter how little one gives, the eye will generally compromise by wanting only a little more. In either case the eye will want more, so one may as well stop sooner or later. Sensible painting, like sensible law, sensible writing, or sensible anything else, consists as much in knowing what to omit as what to insist upon.

„We can no longer separate things as we once could: everything tends towards unity; one thing, one action, in one place, at one time.“

—  Samuel Butler

Unity and Multitude
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part VI - Mind and Matter
Kontext: We can no longer separate things as we once could: everything tends towards unity; one thing, one action, in one place, at one time. On the other hand, we can no longer unify things as we once could; we are driven to ultimate atoms, each one of which is an individuality. So that we have an infinite multitude of things doing an infinite multitude of actions in infinite time and space; and yet they are not many things, but one thing.

„It is love that alone gives life, and the truest life is that which we live not in ourselves but vicariously in others, and with which we have no concern. Our concern is so to order ourselves that we may be of the number of them that enter into life — although we know it not.“

—  Samuel Butler

Ramblings In Cheapside (1890)
Kontext: All we know is, that even the humblest dead may live along after all trace of the body has disappeared; we see them doing it in the bodies and memories of these that come after them; and not a few live so much longer and more effectually than is desirable, that it has been necessary to get rid of them by Act of Parliament. It is love that alone gives life, and the truest life is that which we live not in ourselves but vicariously in others, and with which we have no concern. Our concern is so to order ourselves that we may be of the number of them that enter into life — although we know it not.

„Critics generally come to be critics by reason not of their fitness for this but of their unfitness for anything else.“

—  Samuel Butler

Criticism
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), Part VII - On the Making of Music, Pictures, and Books
Kontext: Critics generally come to be critics by reason not of their fitness for this but of their unfitness for anything else. Books should be tried by a judge and jury as though they were crimes, and counsel should be heard on both sides.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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