Victory, Joseph Conrad (1915)

You don’t expect a slave that’s bought for money to be grateful. And if you sell your work – what is it but selling your own self? You’ve got so many days to live and you sell them one after another. Who can pay me enough for my life?


Coda, Dorothy Parker (March 22, 1928)

There’s little in taking or giving,
There’s little in water or wine;
This living, this living, this living
Was never a project of mine.
Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the one at the top,
For art is a form of catharsis,
And love is a permanent flop,
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest’s for a clam in a shell,
So I’m thinking of throwing the battle-
Would you kindly direct me to hell?

(my emphasis)


Clifford Odets (1963)

That miserable patch of events, that mélange of nothing, while you were looking ahead for something to happen, that was it! That was life! You lived it!

(quoted in Sam Kashner’s Vanity Fair piece A Movie Marked Danger, on the making of Alexander Mackendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success (1957), with a script by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman)


Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy (1892)

– Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?
– Yes.
– All like ours?
– I don’t know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound – a few blighted.
– Which do we live on – a splendid one or a blighted one?
– A blighted one.


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[Nandia Foteini Vlachou does not get paid for writing this blog, but thoroughly enjoys it. Like most people, she has lots of overlapping identities but, as far as this blog is concerned, she is mostly an art historian and film studies amateur. Who, one day, dreams of visiting the Hebrides]