100 Most Popular Short Literary Quotes of José Saramago

  1. Each day is a little bit of history.
  2. A journey never ends. Only the travellers end.
  3. Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered.
  4. In a king, modesty would be a sign of weakness.
  5. A woman is essentially a vessel made to be filled.
  6. Reading is probably another way of being in a place.
  7. As my cat would say, all hours are good for sleeping.
  8. Your questions are false if you already know the answer.
  9. Forgive me if what has seemed little to you, to me is all.
  10. One can show no greater respect than to weep for a stranger.
  11. Creating is always so much more stimulating than destroying.
  12. Words were not given to man in order to conceal his thoughts.
  13. I think we are blind. Blind people who can see, but do not see.
  14. Strictly speaking, we do not make decisions. Decisions make us.
  15. If I’m sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow?
  16. Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are.
  17. You know the name you were given, you do not know the name that you have.
  18. Even death, faced with the option of death or life, she would choose life.
  19. The only time we can talk about death is while we’re alive, not afterwards.
  20. The difficult thing isn’t living with other people, it’s understanding them.
  21. Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are.
  22. Just as the habit does not make the monk, the sceptre does not make the king.
  23. We use words to understand each other and even, sometimes, to find each other.
  24. One cannot be too careful with words, they change their minds just as people do.
  25. Today’s bread does not eliminate yesterday’s hunger, much less that of tomorrow.
  26. When all is said and done, what is clear is that all lives end before their time.
  27. I do not just write, I write what I am. If there is a secret, perhaps that is it.
  28. When all is said and done, what is clear is that all lives end before their time.
  29. In matters of feeling and of the heart, too much is always better than too little.
  30. Consciences keep silence more often than they should, that’s why laws were created.
  31. A tree weeps when cut down, a dog howls when beaten, but a man matures when offended.
  32. Liking is probably the best form of ownership, and ownership the worst form of liking.
  33. The habit of falling hardens the body, reaching the ground, to in itself, is a relief.
  34. The possibility of the impossible, dreams and illusions, are the subject of my novels.
  35. Blindness is a private matter between a person and the eyes with which he or she was born.
  36. The best way of killing a rose is to force it open when it is still only the promise of a bud.
  37. If you don’t write your books, nobody else will do it for you. No one else has lived your life.
  38. No human being can achieve all he or she desires in this life except in dreams, so good night all.
  39. When I am occupied with a work that requires continuity – a novel, for example – I write every day.
  40. There are such moments in life, when, in order for heaven to open, it is necessary for a door to close.
  41. Blessed be the night, which conceals and protects things fair and foul with the same indifferent mantle.
  42. We never consider that the things dogs know about us are things of which we have not the faintest notion.
  43. Dignity has no price … when someone starts making small concessions, in the end life loses all meaning.
  44. Words have their own hierarchy, their own protocol, their own artistic titles, their own plebeian stigmas.
  45. The novel is not so much a literary genre, but a literary space, like a sea that is filled by many rivers.
  46. Men are angels born without wings, nothing could be nicer than to be born without wings and to make them grow.
  47. As citizens, we all have an obligation to intervene and become involved – it’s the citizen who changes things.
  48. What kind of world is this that can send machines to Mars and does nothing to stop the killing of a human being?
  49. Words that come from the heart are never spoken, they get caught in the throat and can only be read in ones’s eyes.
  50. The virtue of maps, they show what can be done with limited space, they foresee that everything can happen therein.
  51. Will we ever learn that certain things can be understood only if we take the trouble to trace them to their origins.
  52. As so often happens, the thing left undone tires you most of all, you only feel rested when it has been accomplished.
  53. Ah, in every age there is always some new wonder to astound mankind until they grow accustomed to it and lose interest.
  54. There is nothing that is truly free nor democratic enough. Make no mistake, the internet did not come to save the world.
  55. If we cannot live entirely like human beings, at least let us do everything in our power not to live entirely like animals.
  56. Men are all the same, they think that because they came out of the belly of a woman they know all there is to know about women.
  57. It is strange how the elderly fall silent when they ought to go on speaking, obliging the young to learn everything from scratch.
  58. Death is present every day in our lives. It’s not that I take pleasure in the morbid fascination of it, but it is a fact of life.
  59. The history of mankind is the history of our misunderstandings with god, for he doesn’t understand us, and we don’t understand him.
  60. In effect I am not a novelist, but rather a failed essayist who started to write novels because he didn’t know how to write essays.
  61. This must be what it means to be a ghost, being certain that life exists, because your four senses say so, and yet unable to see it.
  62. The ear has to be educated if one wishes to appreciate musical sounds, just as the eyes must learn to distinguish the value of words.
  63. Perhaps it is the language that chooses the writers it needs, making use of them so that each might express a tiny part of what it is.
  64. A human being is a being who is constantly ‘under construction,’ but also, in a parallel fashion, always in a state of constant destruction.
  65. We know that happiness is short-lived, that we fail to cherish it when it is within our grasp and value it only when it has vanished forever.
  66. Whether we like it or not, the one justification for the existence of all religions is death, they need death as much as we need bread to eat.
  67. Death doesn’t take her eyes off us for a minute, so much so that even those who are not yet due to die feel her gaze pursuing them constantly.
  68. If there is a way for the world to be transformed for the better, it can only be done by pessimism; optimists will never change the world for the better.
  69. Because each of you has his or her own death, you carry it with you in a secret place from the moment you’re born, it belongs to you and you belong to it.
  70. I don’t doubt that a man can live perfectly well on his own, but I’m convinced that he begins to die as soon as he closes the door of his house behind him.
  71. Human words are like shadows, and shadows are incapable of explaining light and between shadow and light there is the opaque body from which words are born.
  72. We are so afraid of the idea of having to die that we always try to find excuses for the dead, as if we were asking beforehand to be excused when it is our turn.
  73. Human vocabulary is still not capable, and probably never will be, of knowing, recognizing, and communicating everything that can be humanly experienced and felt.
  74. Society has to change, but the political powers we have at the moment are not enough to effect this change. The whole democratic system would have to be rethought.
  75. People live with the illusion that we have a democratic system, but it’s only the outward form of one. In reality we live in a plutocracy, a government of the rich.
  76. With the passage of time, as well as the social evolution and genetic exchange, we ended up putting our conscience in the colour of our blood and the salt of our tears.
  77. We say Fine, even though we may be dying, and this is commonly known as taking one’s courage in both hands, a phenomenon that has only been observed in the human species.
  78. We all have our moments of weakness, just as well that we are still capable of weeping, tears are often our salvation, there are times when we would die if we did not weep.
  79. When we are born, when we enter this world, it is as if we signed a pact for the rest of our life, but a day may come when we will ask ourselves Who signed this on my behalf?
  80. It is difficult to understand these people who democratically take part in elections and a referendum, but are then incapable of democratically accepting the will of the people.
  81. You have to leave the island in order to see the island, that we can’t see ourselves unless we become free of ourselves, unless we escape from ourselves you mean, no, that’s not the same thing.
  82. No, there are three people in a marriage, there’s the woman, there’s the man, and there’s what I call the third person, the most important, the person who is composed of the man and woman together.
  83. We’re not short of movements proclaiming that a different world is possible, but unless we can coordinate them into an international movement, capitalism just laughs at all these little organisations.
  84. Sleep is a skilled magician, it changes the proportions of things, the distances between them, it separates people and they’re lying next to each other, brings them together and they can barely see one another.
  85. The worst pain isn’t the pain you feel at the time, it’s the pain you feel later on when there’s nothing you can do about it. They say that time heals all wounds, but we never live long enough to test that theory.
  86. There is relationship between sight and touch, something about eyes being able to see through the fingers touching the clay, about fingers being able to feel what the eyes are seeing without the fingers actually touching it.
  87. Sometimes I say that writing a novel is the same as constructing a chair: a person must be able to sit in it, to be balanced on it. If I can produce a great chair, even better. But above all I have to make sure that it has four stable feet.
  88. We would understand much more about life’s complexities if we applied ourselves to an assiduous study of its contradictions, instead of wasting time on identities and coherences, seeing as these have a duty to provide their own explanations.
  89. The minds of human beings are not always entirely at one with the world in which they live, some people have trouble adjusting to reality, basically they’re just weak, confused spirits who use words, sometimes very skilfully, to justify their cowardice.
  90. Life is like that, full of words that are not worth saying or that were worth saying once but not any more, each word that we utter will take up the space of another more deserving word, not deserving in its own right, but because of the possible consequences of saying it.
  91. You never know beforehand what people are capable of, you have to wait, give it time, it’s time that rules, time is our gambling partner on the other side of the table and it holds all the cards of the deck in its hand, we have to guess the winning cards of life, our lives.
  92. In the end, I am quite normal. I don’t have odd habits. I don’t dramatize. Above all, I do not romanticize the act of writing. I don’t talk about the anguish I suffer in creating. I do not have a fear of the blank page, writer’s block, all those things that we hear about writers.
  93. People might ask me, What do you propose instead? I propose nothing. I am a mere novelist, I just write about the world as I see it. It is not my job to transform it. I cannot transform it all by myself, and I wouldn’t even know how to. I limit myself to saying what I believe the world to be.
  94. Some people spend their entire lives reading but never get beyond reading the words on the page, they don’t understand that the words are merely stepping stones placed across a fast-flowing river, and the reason they’re there is so that we can reach the farther shore, it’s the other side that matters.
  95. I consider books to be good for our health, and also our spirits, and they help us to become poets or scientists, to understand the stars or else to discover them deep within the aspirations of certain characters, those who sometimes, on certain evenings, escape from the pages and walk among us humans, perhaps the most human of us all.
  96. With the passing of time, as well as the social evolution and genetic exchange, we ended up putting our conscience in the colour of blood and in the salt of tears, and, as if that were not enough, we made our eyes into a kind of mirror turned inwards, with the result that they often show without reserve what we are verbally trying to deny.
  97. Often when you ask for one thing you receive another, this is the mysterious thing about prayer, we address them to heaven with some private intention, but they choose their own path, sometimes they delay, allowing other prayers to overtake them, frequently they overlap and become hybrid prayers of dubious origin, which quarrel and argue among themselves.
  98. Don’t be afraid, the darkness you’re in is no greater than the darkness inside your own body, they are two darknesses separated by a skin, I bet you’ve never thought of that, you carry a darkness about with you all the time and that doesn’t frighten you…my dear chap, you have to learn to live with the darkness outside just as you learned to live with the darkness inside.
  99. Sometimes we ask ourselves why happiness took so long to arrive, why it didn’t come sooner, but appears suddenly, as now, when we’ve given up hope of it ever arriving, it’s likely then that we won’t know what to do, and rather than it being a question of choosing between laughter and tears, we will be filled by a secret anxiety to which we might not know how to respond at all.

jose-saramagoJosé de Sousa Saramago (16 November 1922 – 18 June 2010), was a Portuguese writer and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature. His works, some of which can be seen as allegories, commonly present subversive perspectives on historic events, emphasizing the human factor.

As of 2016, more than two million copies of Saramago’s books have been sold in Portugal alone and his work has been translated into 25 languages. A proponent of libertarian communism, Saramago was criticized by institutions such as the Catholic Church, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, with whom he disagreed on various issues. An atheist, he defended love as an instrument to improve the human condition. In 1992, the Government of Portugal under Prime Minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva ordered the removal of The Gospel According to Jesus Christ from the Aristeion Prize’s shortlist, claiming the work was religiously offensive. Disheartened by this political censorship of his work, Saramago went into exile on the Spanish island of Lanzarote, upon which he resided until his death in 2010. (from Wikipedia)


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