Be sure that you go to the author to get at his meaning, not to find yours.
What one writer can make in the solitude of one room is something no power can easily destroy.
A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.
Such is the miraculous nature of the future of exiles: what is first uttered in the impotence of an overheated apartment becomes the fate of nations.
I used to say, 'There is a God-shaped hole in me.' For a long time I stressed the absence, the hole. Now I find it is the shape which has become more important.
Our lives teach us who we are.
Names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth's marvels, beneath the dust of habit.
Throughout human history, the apostles of purity, those who have claimed to possess a total explanation, have wrought havoc among mere mixed-up human beings.
Most of what matters in your life takes place in your absence.
When thought becomes excessively painful, action is the finest remedy.
It is very, very easy not to be offended by a book. You just have to shut it.
Doubt, it seems to me, is the central condition of a human being in the twentieth century.
What distinguishes a great artist from a weak one is first their sensibility and tenderness; second, their imagination, and third, their industry.
A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return.
What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.
If Woody Allen were a Muslim, he'd be dead by now.
Writers and politicians are natural rivals. Both groups try to make the world in their own images; they fight for the same territory.
The acceptance that all that is solid has melted into the air, that reality and morality are not givens but imperfect human constructs, is the point from which fiction begins.
Sometimes legends make reality, and become more useful than the facts.
I hate admitting that my enemies have a point.
Books choose their authors; the act of creation is not entirely a rational and conscious one.
If I were asked for a one-sentence sound bite on religion, I would say I was against it.
The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas - uncertainty, progress, change - into crimes.
I do not need the idea of God to explain the world I live in.
Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.