I had, from my beginning, to adore heroes & I elected that they witness to, show forth, transfigure: life-suffering & pure heart & hardly definable but central weakness

for which they were enthroned & forgiven by me.

- John Berryman, 'The Heroes', Love and Fame (1970)

Something beautiful

"Jerome had wept: the tears you cry for someone whom you never met who made something beautiful that you loved. Seventeen years earlier, when Lennon died, Kiki had dragged Howard to Central Park and wept while the crowd sang 'All You Need Is Love' and Howard ranted bitterly about Milgram and mass psychosis."

- On Beauty, Zadie Smith, p.174

Zadie Smith on individuality

"His face was childish, apologetic, completely inadequate. It made Kiki suddenly despair. It was a face that placed them right alongside every other middle-aged couple on the block - the raging wife, the rueful husband.She thought: How did we get to the same place as everybody else?"

- On Beauty, p.104

The great man

"I told him what Molly had said - about Stalin's not knowing; because I thought how odd it was we all have this need for the great man, and create him over and over again in the face of all the evidence. Michael looked tired and grim. To my surprise he said: 'Well, it might be true, might’nt it? That’s the point - anything might be true anywhere, there’s never any way if really knowing the truth about anything. Anything is possible - everything's so crazy, anything at all’s possible.'"

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook, p.158

On self-image

"By the time she finished the letter she was quite convinced that it was neither her belly nor the exhausting pursuit of the artist’s ideas that had brought on her nervous crisis, but only her maternal feelings which revolted against a great but sinful love.

At that point, she saw herself not only as infinitely sad but also noble, tragic, and firm; the sorrow which a few days ago had merely hurt was now couched in dignified words and gave her a certain consoling pleasure. It was a beautiful sorrow, and she saw herself, illumined by its melancholy glow, mournfully beautiful."

- Life is Elsewhere, Milan Kundera, p.54

On fictionalising famous people

"Turner had to make a cup of tea, Turner had to kiss someone… just as Karl Rove had to kiss someone… if he was lucky. Or pick up a pen… or, you know, operate a mouse… I mean a computer mouse. All of those things, he has to do, but no-one has the first idea how he does them."

- the actor Toby Young on playing a real person (in this case, the painter Turner, but previously Young has played Karl Rove), 07:44 on Tues 11 January 2011, Today programme on BBC Radio 4