THE WRITINGS OF WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS





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Absolutely, so positively, so almost 

aggressively truthful



Account of one's reading is an account of 

one's life



Affections will not be bidden



Beginning to grow old with touching courage



Book that they are content to know at 

second hand



Christianity had done nothing to improve morals 

and conditions



Clemens was sole, incomparable, the Lincoln of 

our literature



Comfort from the thought that most things cannot 

be helped



Contemptible he found our pseudo-equality



Critical vanity and self-righteousness



Critics are in no sense the legislators of 

literature



Despair broke in laughter



Dickens rescued Christmas from Puritan distrust



Didn't reason about their beliefs, but

only argued



Disbeliever in punishments of all sorts



Even a day's rest is more than most people 

can bear



Everlasting rock of human credulity and folly



Exchanging inaudible banalities



Fear of asking too much and the folly of asking 

too little



For most people choice is a curse



Forbear the excesses of analysis



Gift of waiting for things to happen



Got out of it all the fun there was in it



Government is best which governs least



Habit of saying some friendly lying thing



He was not bored because he would not be



He had no time to make money



He's so resting

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He's the same kind of a man that he was a boy



Heighten our suffering by anticipation



Heroic lies



His readers trusted and loved him



I do not think any man ought to live by an art



If one were poor, one ought to be deserving



If he was half as bad, he would have been too 

bad to be



Incredible in their insipidity



Industrial slavery



Lewd literature seems to give a sanction to 

lewdness in the life



Lie, of course, and did to save others from 

grief or harm



Life alone is credible to the young



Livy: Well, if you are to be lost, I want to be 

lost with you



Livy Clemens: the loveliest person I have 

ever seen



Luxury of helplessness



Married Man: after the first start-off he 

don't try



Meet here to the purpose of a common ostentation



Morbid egotism



My reading gave me no standing among the boys



Neatness that brings despair



Never paid in anything but hopes of paying



Never saw a dead man whom he did not envy 



New England necessity of blaming some one



None of the passions are reasoned



NYC, a city where money counts for more and 

goes for less



Old man's disposition to speak of his 

infirmities



Pathetic hopefulness

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Plain-speaking or Rude Speaking



Praised it enough to satisfy the author



Pseudo-realists



Public wish to be amused rather than edified



Real artistocracy is above social prejudice



Reformers, who are so often tedious and 

ridiculous



Refused to see us as we see ourselves



Shackles of belief worn so long



She liked to get all she could out of her 

emotions



Society interested in a woman's past, 

not her future



Teach what they do not know



Somewhat too studied grace



Sunny gayety of self-forgetfulness



Secretly admires the splendors he affects to 

despise



Self-satisfied, intolerant, and hypocritical 

provinciality



Submitted, as people always do with the trials 

of others



Tediously analytical



They are so many and I am so few



Truth is beyond invention



Used to ingratitude from those he helped



Vacuous vulgarity



We did not know that we were poor



We're company enough for ourselves



What we thought ruin, but what was really 

release



When she's really sick, she's better



Wonder why we hate the past so?--"It's so 

damned humiliating!"



You can't go back to anything



You may do a great deal(of work), and not get on



You marry a man's future as well as his past



You cannot be at perfect ease with a friend who 

does not joke





COMPLETE QUOTATIONS



Absolutely, so positively, so almost aggressively truthful

Abstract, the airdrawn, afflicted me like physical discomforts

Account of one's reading is an account of one's life

Adroitness in flattery is not necessary for its successful use

Affections will not be bidden

Aim at nothing higher than the amusement of your readers

Air of looking down on the highest

All in all to each other

Always sumptuously providing out of his destitution

Amiable perception, and yet with a sort of remote absence

Amiably satirical

Any man's country could get on without him

Appeal, which he had come to recognize as invasive

Artist has seasons, as trees,  when he cannot blossom

Authorities

Authors I must call my masters

Became gratefully strange

Beginning to grow old with touching courage

Begun to fight with want from their cradles

Best talkers are willing that you should talk if you like

Boldest man is commonly a little behind a timid woman

Book that they are content to know at second hand

Browbeat wholesome common-sense into the self-distrust

Business to take advantage of his necessity

But now I remember that he gets twenty dollars a month

Buzz of activities and pretences

Capriciousness of memory: what it will hold and what lose

Chained to the restless pursuit of an ideal not his own

Christianity had done nothing to improve morals and conditions

Church: "Oh yes, I go!  It 'most kills me, but I go"

Clemens was sole, incomparable, the Lincoln of our literature

Cold-slaw

Collective opacity

Comfort from the thought that most things cannot be helped

Competition has deformed human nature

Composed her features and her ideas to receive her visitor

Concerning popularity as a test of merit in a book

Conditions of hucksters imposed upon poets

Contemptible he found our pseudo-equality

Could only by chance be caught in earnest about anything

Could make us feel that our faults were other people's

Could not, as the saying is, find a stone to throw at a dog

Could easily believe now that it was some one else who saw it

Couldn't fire your revolver without bringing down a two volumer

Crimson which stained the tops and steeps of snow

Crimson torch of a maple, kindled before its time

Critical vanity and self-righteousness

Criticism still remains behind all the other literary arts

Critics are in no sense the legislators of literature

Dawn upon him through a cloud of other half remembered faces

Death of the joy that ought to come from work

Death's vague conjectures to the broken expectations of life

Despair broke in laughter

Despised the avoidance of repetitions out of fear of tautology

Dickens rescued Christmas from Puritan distrust

Dickens is purely democratic

Did not feel the effect I would so willingly have experienced

Didn't reason about their beliefs, but only argued

Dinner was at the old-fashioned Boston hour of two

Disbeliever in punishments of all sorts

Disposition to use his friends

Do not want to know about such squalid lives

Dollars were of so much farther flight than now

Dull, cold self-absorption

Early self-helpfulness of children is very remarkable

Effort to do and say exactly the truth, and to find it out

Either to deny the substance of things unseen, or to affirm it

Encounter of old friends after the lapse of years

Enjoying whatever was amusing in the disadvantage to himself

Errors of a weak man, which were usually the basest

Escaped at night and got into the boy's dreams

Espoused the theory of Bacon's authorship of Shakespeare

Ethical sense, not the aesthetical sense

Even a day's rest is more than most people can bear

Everlasting rock of human credulity and folly

Exchanging inaudible banalities

Express the appreciation of another's fit word

Eyes fixed steadfastly upon the future

Fact that it is hash many times warmed over that reassures them

Fate of a book is in the hands of the women

Fear of asking too much and the folly of asking too little

Feigned the gratitude which I could see that he expected

Felt that this was my misfortune more than my fault

Few men last over from one reform to another

Fictions subtle effect for good and for evil on the young

Flowers with which we garland our despair in that pitiless hour

For most people choice is a curse

Forbear the excesses of analysis

Forbearance of a wise man content to bide his time

Found life was not all poetry

Gay laugh comes across the abysm of the years

General worsening of things, familiar after middle life

Generous lover of all that was excellent in literature

Gift of waiting for things to happen

Glance of the common eye, is and always was the best light

God of chance leads them into temptation and adversity

Got out of it all the fun there was in it

Government is best which governs least

Greatest classics are sometimes not at all great

Greeting of great impersonal cordiality

Grieving that there could be such ire in heavenly minds

Habit of saying some friendly lying thing

Happy in the indifference which ignorance breeds in us

Hard to think up anything new

Hard of hearing on one side.  But it isn't deafness!

Hardly any sort of bloodshed which I would not pardon

Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Autocrat clashed upon homeopathy

Hate of hate, The scorn of scorn, The love of love

He was a youth to the end of his days

He was not bored because he would not be

He had no time to make money

He was not constructive; he was essentially observant

He might walk home with her if he would not seem to do so

He's so resting

He's the same kind of a man that he was a boy

Heart of youth aching for their stoical sorrows

Heighten our suffering by anticipation

Heroic lies

His readers trusted and loved him

His plays were too bad for the stage, or else too good for it

His coming almost killed her, but it was worth it

His remembrance absolutely ceased with an event

Historian, who is a kind of inferior realist

Holiday literature

Hollow hilarities which people use to mask their indifference

Hollowness, the hopelessness, the unworthiness of  life

Honest men are few when it comes to themselves

Honesty is difficult

Hopeful apathy in his face

Hospitable gift of making you at home with him

I do not think any man ought to live by an art

I did not know, and I hated to ask

If one were poor, one ought to be deserving

If he was half as bad, he would have been too bad to be

If one must, it ought to be champagne

If he has not enjoyed writing no one will enjoy reading

Imitators of one another than of nature

Impropriety if not indecency promises literary success

In the South there was nothing but a mistaken social ideal

In school there was as little literature then as there is now

Incoherencies of people meeting after a long time

Incredible in their insipidity

Industrial slavery

Inexhaustible flow of statement, conjecture and misgiving

Inexperience takes this effect (literary lewdness) for reality

Insatiable English fancy for the wild America no longer there

Insensate pride that mothers have in their children's faults

Intellectual poseurs

Intent upon some point in the future

It was mighty pretty, as Pepys would say

Joyful shame of children who have escaped punishment

Kept her talking vacuities when her heart was full

Kindness and gentleness are never out of fashion

Kissing goes by favor, in literature as in life

Languages, while they live, are perpetually changing

Led a life of public seclusion

Left him to do what the cat might

Let fiction cease to lie about life

Lewd literature seems to give a sanction to lewdness in the life

Lie, of course, and did to save others from grief or harm

Life alone is credible to the young

Liked to find out good things and great things for himself

Literature beautiful only through the intelligence

Literature is Business as well as Art

Literature has no objective value

Little knot of conscience between her pretty eyebrows

Lived a thousand little lies every day

Livy: Well, if you are to be lost, I want to be lost with you

Livy Clemens: the loveliest person I have ever seen

Long-puerilized fancy will bear an endless repetition

Long breath was not his; he could not write a novel

Look of challenge, of interrogation, almost of reproof

Looked as if Destiny had sat upon it

Love of freedom and the hope of justice

Luxury of helplessness

Made many of my acquaintances very tired of my favorite authors

Made them talk as seldom man and never woman talked

Malevolent agitators

Man is strange to himself as long as he lives

Man who had so much of the boy in him

Man who may any moment be out of work is industrially a slave

Marriages are what the parties to them alone really know

Married Man: after the first start-off he don't try

Meet here to the purpose of a common ostentation

Mellow cordial of a voice that was like no other

Men read the newspapers, but our women read the books

Men's lives ended where they began, in the keeping of women

Met with kindness, if not honor

Mind and soul were with those who do the hard work of the world

Mind of a man is the court of final appeal for the wisest women

Morbid egotism

Most desouthernized Southerner I ever knew

Most journalists would have been literary men if they could

Most serious, the most humane, the most conscientious of men

Motives lie nearer the surface than most people commonly pretend

Mustache, which in those days devoted a man to wickedness

My own youth now seems to me rather more alien

My reading gave me no standing among the boys

Napoleonic height which spiritually overtops the Alps

Nearly nothing as chaos could be

Neatness that brings despair

Never saw a man more regardful of negroes

Never paid in anything but hopes of paying

Never quite sure of life unless I find literature in it

Never appeals to the principle which sniffs, in his reader

Never saw a dead man whom he did not envy

New England necessity of blaming some one

No greatness, no beauty, which does not come from truth

No man more perfectly sensed and more entirely abhorred slavery

No man ever yet told the truth about himself

No rose blooms right along

No two men see the same star

No greatness, no beauty, which does not come from truth

No object in life except to deprive it of all object

Noble uselessness

None of the passions are reasoned

Not quite himself till he had made you aware of his quality

Not possible for Clemens to write like anybody else

Not much patience with the unmanly craving for sympathy

Not a man who cared to transcend; he liked bounds

Nothing in the way of sport, as people commonly understand it

Novels hurt because they are not true

Now little notion what it was about, but I love its memory

Now death has come to join its vague conjectures

NYC, a city where money counts for more and goes for less

Odious hilarity, without meaning and without remission

Offers mortifyingly mean, and others insultingly vague

Old man's disposition to speak of his infirmities

Old man's tendency to revert to the past

One could be openly poor in Cambridge without open shame

Only one concerned who was quite unconcerned

Openly depraved by shows of wealth

Ought not to call coarse without calling one's self prudish

Our huckstering civilization

Outer integument of pretence

Passive elegance which only ancestral uselessness can give

Pathetic hopefulness

Pathos of revolt from the colorless rigidities

People whom we think unequal to their good fortune

People of wealth and fashion always dissemble their joy

People have never had ideals, but only moods and fashions

Picture which, he said to himself, no one would believe in

Plagiarism carries inevitable detection with it

Plain-speaking or Rude Speaking

Plain industry and plodding perseverance are despised

Pointed the moral in all they did

Polite learning hesitated his praise

Praised it enough to satisfy the author

Praised extravagantly, and in the wrong place

Prejudice against certain words that I cannot overcome

Provisional reprehension of possible shiftlessness

Pseudo-realists

Public wish to be amused rather than edified

Public whose taste is so crude that they cannot enjoy the best

Put your finger on the present moment and enjoy it

Quiet but rather dull look of people slightly deaf

Rapture of the new convert could not last

Real artistocracy is above social prejudice

Reformers, who are so often tedious and ridiculous

Refused to see us as we see ourselves

Reparation due from every white to every black man

Responsibility of finding him all we have been told he is

Rogues in every walk of life

Satirical smile with which men witness the effusion of women

Secret of the man who is universally interesting

Secretly admires the splendors he affects to despise

Seen through the wrong end of the telescope

Seldom talked, but there came times when he would'nt even listen

Self-satisfied, intolerant, and hypocritical provinciality

Shackles of belief worn so long

She liked to get all she could out of her emotions

Should probably have wasted the time if I had not read them

Singleness of a nature that was all pose

So long as we have social inequality we shall have snobs

So refined, after the gigantic coarseness of California

So many millionaires and so many tramps

Society interested in a woman's past, not her future

Sometimes they sacrificed the song to the sermon

Somewhat shy of his fellow-men, as the scholar seems always to be.

Somewhat too studied grace

Sought the things that he could agree with you upon

Spare his years the fatigue of recalling your identity

Speaks it is not with words and blood, but with words and ink

Spit some hapless victim: make him suffer and the reader laugh

Standards were their own, and they were satisfied with them

Study in a corner by the porch

Stupefied by a life of unalloyed prosperity and propriety

Stupidly truthful

Style is the man, and he cannot hide himself in any garb

Submitted, as people always do with the trials of others

Sunny gayety of self-forgetfulness

Superiority one likes to feel towards the rich and great

Take our pleasures ungraciously

Teach what they do not know

Tediously analytical

The old and ugly are fastidious as to the looks of others

The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it

The great trouble is for the man to be honest with her

There is small love of pure literature

They are so many and I am so few

Things common to all, however peculiar in each

Those who work too much and those who rest too much

Those who have sorrowed deepest will understand this best

Times when a man's city was a man's country

Tired themselves out in trying to catch up with him

To break new ground

To be exemplary is as dangerous as to be complimentary

Tone was a snuffle expressive of deep-seated affliction

Trace no discrepancy between reading his plays and seeing them

Tried to like whatever they bade me like

True to an ideal of life rather than to life itself

Truth is beyond invention

Two branches of the novelist's trade: Novelist and Historian

Under a fire of conjecture and asseveration

Understood when I've said something that doesn't mean anything

Unfailing American kindness

Unless we prefer a luxury of grief

Used to ingratitude from those he helped

Vacuous vulgarity

Visitors of the more inquisitive sex

Vulgarity: bad art to lug it in

Walter-Scotticized, pseudo-chivalry of the Southern ideal

Want something hard, don't you know; but I want it to be easy

Wasted face, and his gay eyes had the death-look

We have never ended before, and we do not see how we can end

We change whether we ought, or not

We see nothing whole, neither life nor art

We who have neither youth nor beauty should always expect it

We cannot all be hard-working donkeys

We did not know that we were poor

We're company enough for ourselves

What I had not I could hope for without unreason

What he had done he owned to, good, bad, or indifferent

What makes a better fashion change for a worse

What we thought ruin, but what was really release

Whatever is established is sacred with those who do not think

Whatever choice you make, you are pretty sure to regret it

When to be an agnostic was to be almost an outcast

When she's really sick, she's better

When was love ever reasoned?

Whether every human motive was not selfish

Wide leisure of a country village

Wishes of a mistress who did not know what she wanted

Wit that tries its teeth upon everything

With all her insight, to have very little artistic sense

Women don't seem to belong very much to themselves

Women talked their follies and men acted theirs

Wonder why we hate the past so?--"It's so damned humiliating!"

Wonderful to me how it should remain so unintelligible

Words of learned length and thundering sound

Work gives the impression of an uncommon continuity

Work not truly priced in money cannot be truly paid in money

World made up of two kinds of people

World seems to always come out at the same hole it went in at!

World's memory is equally bad for failure and success

Worldlier than the world

Worst came it was not half so bad as what had gone before

Wrote them first and last in the spirit of Dickens

You can't go back to anything

You cannot be at perfect ease with a friend who does not joke

You may do a great deal(of work), and not get on

You marry a man's future as well as his past

You were not afraid, and you were not bold; you were just right



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These quotations were collected from the works of Howells by David Widger while preparing etexts for Project Gutenberg. Comments and suggestions will be most welcome.

--And many thanks for your persistence in reading all the way to the end of this page.        D.W.