Literature has always been used as a way to express the author’s emotions. From the scathing critiques in the Rome of Plautus and Terence and Shakespeare’s tragedies to Cervante’s windmills and Goethe‘s desperation, we have extracted some of the most iconic and timeless quotes in history.
Many of these quotes linger in the collective imaginary with a different meaning than the original. The world changes and a historic context that adjusts to current needs emerges. We can’t re-read many of these famous book phrases with eyes set on the present. Instead, our eyes must be set on the past.
Luckily, there are still parts of these quotes that may apply to the present moment and that haven’t lost one bit of truth. Some are famous because of who wrote them; others because of their morals. They’re all equally relevant and may hide important messages that we mustn’t forget.
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”Share
This very iconic quote comes from The Tempest by William Shakespeare. We often believe that the monsters only exist in fairy tales (or in hell, depending on how you look at it), but this isn’t the case. They’re close to us and what’s worse is that we usually don’t realize it until it’s too late.
This quote is a warning telling us to be careful with who we trust. Anger, jealousy, rage, or resentment surround us and sometimes even live inside of us.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”Share
Anna Karenina gives us one of the most famous book quotes of all time. Tolstoy narrates her fall from the pedestal in a completely unique way, especially if we take into account the time in which it was written. Anna’s love for a young man that isn’t her husband ends up being the beginning of the end for her, desperate and broken inside.
We must learn that perfection doesn’t exist. Demanding that others do impossible things is simply a reflection of our own self-demanding nature, which isn’t always good. One must learn to accept imperfections because that’s what makes human beings special. Precisely in those imperfections resides the beauty of each of us.
Mist by Miguel de Unamuno
“Men do not succumb to the great sorrows or joys because they come hidden in an immense mistfilled cloud of insignificant incidents.”Share
Miguel de Unamuno was one of the great writers and thinkers of the 20th century. With his novel, Mist, he reminds us that life has many shades and it’s not just one color. Therefore, when something good happens to us, we must always remember that the feeling of pure happiness won’t last forever.
It’s just the same with the bad moments. Everything comes and everything goes. Different moments bring different emotions. They bring with them a foggy state in which we live day by day, without experiencing any changes.
The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
“There is no death, daughter. People only die when we forget them.”Share
Chilean writer Isabel Allende urges us to remember that, as long as we have our memories, those who are gone forever will always remain with us. When it’s time to face grief, we must experience all emotions. Only through this process we will find peace again and move on.
The loss of a loved one is a painful and horrible situation, but we all have to go through it at some point. That’s the circle of life. We must always remember those who we deeply loved with a smile on our faces.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”Share
Francis Scott Fitzgerald narrates the rise of Jay Gatsby, a young man with little resources, in this story. It’s a story that takes place in the happy ’20s. The main character, Nick, discovers the evilness of human beings, along with the family of his cousin Daisy, Gatsby’s lover.
Nick’s father tells him this exact phrase to make it clear that, before criticizing, one must put themselves in the other person’s shoes. This advice makes Nick develop a friendship with Gatsby, a man he admires and respects due to his determination.
We love the main characters in these books so much because they usually remind us of ourselves. They suffer, laugh, and doubt, but they always end up learning something. Just like in real life, they face their fears.
If you really want to learn about life, you can start by creating a list of book quotes you found interesting. You never know where you can find the answers to the questions that haunt you.