An aphorism is nothing else but the slightest
form of writing raised to the highest level of expressive communication. Carl William Brown





Books that have become classics -- books that have had their day and now get more praise than perusal -- always remind me of retired colonels and majors and captains who, having reached the age limit, find themselves retired on half pay.


Thomas B. Aldrich (1836-1907, American writer, editor)


The most perfect political community must be amongst those who are in the middle rank, and those states are best instituted wherein these are a larger and more respectable part, if possible, than both the other; or, if that cannot be, at least than either of them separate.


Aristotle (BC 384-322, Greek philosopher)


If experience has established any one thing in this world, it has established this: that it is well for any great class and description of men in society to be able to say for itself what it wants, and not to have other classes, the so-called educated and intelligent classes, acting for it as its proctors, and supposed to understand its wants and to provide for them. A class of men may often itself not either fully understand its wants, or adequately express them; but it has a nearer interest and a more sure diligence in the matter than any of its proctors, and therefore a better chance of success.


Matthew Arnold (1822-1888, British poet, critic)


The working-class is now issuing from its hiding-place to assert an Englishman's heaven-born privilege of doing as he likes, and is beginning to perplex us by marching where it likes, meeting where it likes, bawling what it likes, breaking what it likes.


Matthew Arnold (1822-1888, British poet, critic)


Any class is all right if it will only let others be so.


Samuel Butler (1612-1680, British poet, satirist)


Historically and politically, the petit-bourgeois is the key to the century. The bourgeois and proletariat classes have become abstractions: the petite-bourgeoisie, in contrast, is everywhere, you can see it everywhere, even in the areas of the bourgeois and the proletariat, what's left of them.


Roland Barthes (1915-1980, French semiologist)


The ignorant classes are the dangerous classes.


Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887, American preacher, orator, writer)


Definition of a classic:  a book everyone is assumed to have read and often thinks they have.


Alan Bennett (1934-, British playwright)


Let the others have the charisma. I've got the class.


George H. Bush (1924-, American President (41st))


A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.


Italo Calvino (1923-1985, Cuban writer, essayist, journalist)


Real good breeding, as the people have it here, is one of the finest things now going in the world. The careful avoidance of all discussion, the swift hopping from topic to topic, does not agree with me; but the graceful style they do it with is beyond that of minuets!


Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881, Scottish philosopher, author)


Between richer and poorer classes in a free country a mutually respecting antagonism is much healthier than pity on the one hand and dependence on the other, as is, perhaps, the next best thing to fraternal feeling.


Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929, American sociologist)


This miserable state is borne by the wretched souls of those who lived without disgrace and without praise.


Alighieri, Dante (1265-1321, Italian philosopher, poet)


A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.


Robertson Davies (1913-1995, Canadian novelist, journalist)


A classic is a book that doesn't have to be written again.


Carl Van Doren (1885-1950, American critic, biographer)


There are certain books in the world which every searcher for truth must know: the Bible, the Critique of Pure Reason, the Origin of Species, and Karl Marx's Capital.


William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963, American historian, educator, writer, journalist)


The traveler to the United States will do well to prepare himself for the class-consciousness of the natives. This differs from the already familiar English version in being more extreme and based more firmly on the conviction that the class to which the speaker belongs is inherently superior to all others.


John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-, American economist)


The distinctions separating the social classes are false; in the last analysis they rest on force.


Albert Einstein (1879-1955, German-born American physicist)


All the world over, I will back the masses against the classes.


William E. Gladstone (1809-1888, British liberal Prime Minister, statesman)


A book is never a masterpiece: it becomes one. Genius is the talent of a dead man.


Edmond and Jules De Goncourt (1822-1896, French writers)


There are books which take rank in your life with parents and lovers and passionate experiences, so medicinal, so stringent, so revolutionary, so authoritative.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor. By proletariat (is meant) the class of modern wage laborers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labor power in order to live.


Friedrich Engels (1820-1895, German social philosopher)


When we say a woman is of a certain social class, we really mean her husband or father is.


Zoe Fairbairns


What I call middle-class society is any society that becomes rigidified in predetermined forms, forbidding all evolution, all gains, all progress, all discovery. I call middle-class a closed society in which life has no taste, in which the air is tainted, in which ideas and men are corrupt. And I think that a man who takes a stand against this death is in a sense a revolutionary.


Frantz Fanon (1925-1961, French psychiatrist)


Let him who expects one class of society to prosper in the highest degree, while the other is in distress, try whether one side of the face can smile while the other is pinched.


Thomas Fuller (1608-1661, British clergyman, author)


By speaking, by thinking, we undertake to clarify things. That forces us to exacerbate them, dislocate them, schematize them. Every concept is in itself an exaggeration.


Jose Ortega Y Gasset (1883-1955, Spanish essayist, philosopher)


There is but one way left to save a classic: to give up revering him and use him for our own salvation.


Jose Ortega Y Gasset (1883-1955, Spanish essayist, philosopher)


By the definition accepted in the United States, any person with even a small amount of (African American) Blood... is an (African American). Logically, it would be exactly as justifiable to say that any person with even a small amount of white blood is white. Why do they say one rather than the other? Because the former classification suits the convenience of those making the classification.  Society, in short, regards as true those systems that produce the desired results. Science seeks only the most generally useful systems of classification.  These it regards for the time being, until more useful classifications are invented as true.


S. I. Hayakawa (1902-1992, Canadian born American senator, educator)


What I always hated and detested and cursed above all things was this contentment, this healthiness and comfort, this carefully preserved optimism of the middle classes, this fat and prosperous brood of mediocrity.


Hermann Hesse (1877-1962, German-born Swiss novelist, poet)


The praise of ancient authors proceeds not from the reverence of the dead, but from the competition and mutual envy of the living.


Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679, British philosopher)


The prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.


William James (1842-1910, American psychologist, professor, author)


The light that radiates from the great novels time can never dim, for human existence is perpetually being forgotten by man and thus the novelists discoveries, however old they may be, will never cease to astonish.


Milan Kundera (1929-, Czech author, critic)


The history of all countries shows that the working class exclusively by its own effort is able to develop only trade-union consciousness.


Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924, Russian revolutionary leader)


By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class.


Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001, American author)


Classes struggle, some classes triumph, others are eliminated. Such is history; such is the history of civilization for thousands of years.


Zedong Mao (1893-1976, Founder of the People's Republic of China)


Lady Hodmarsh and the duchess immediately assumed the clinging affability that persons of rank assume with their inferiors in order to show them that they are not in the least conscious of any difference in station between them.


W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965, British novelist, playwright)


Every man with a bellyful of the classics is an enemy to the human race.


Henry Miller (1891-1980, American author)


People of quality know everything without ever having learned anything.


Jean Baptiste Moliere (1622-1673, French playwright)


The want of education and moral training is the only real barrier that exists between the different classes of men. Nature, reason, and Christianity recognize no other. Pride may say Nay; but Pride was always a liar, and a great hater of the truth.


Susanna Moodie (1803-1885, Canadian author)


The worst fault of the working classes is telling their children they're not going to succeed, saying: "There is life, but it's not for you."


John Mortimer (1923-, British barrister, novelist)


In every one of those little stucco boxes there's some poor bastard who's never free except when he's fast asleep and dreaming that he's got the boss down the bottom of a well and is bunging lumps of coal at him.


George Orwell (1903-1950, British author, "Animal Farm")


Throughout recorded time... there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or the other. The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable.


George Orwell (1903-1950, British author, "Animal Farm")


We of the sinking middle class may sink without further struggles into the working class where we belong, and probably when we get there it will not be so dreadful as we feared, for, after all, we have nothing to lose.


George Orwell (1903-1950, British author, "Animal Farm")


I am his Highness dog at Kew; pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?


Alexander Pope (1688-1744, British poet, critic, translator)


A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.


Ezra Pound (1885-1972, American poet, critic)


For the duration of its collective life, or the time during which its identity may be assumed, each class resembles a hotel or an omnibus, always full, but always of different people.


Joseph A. Schumpeter (1883-1950, Austrian-American economist)


I have to live for others and not for myself: that's middle-class morality.


George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950, Irish-born British dramatist)


Mankind is divided into rich and poor, into property owners and exploited; and to abstract oneself from this fundamental division ;and from the antagonism between poor and rich means abstracting oneself from fundamental facts.


Joseph Stalin (1879-1953, Georgian-born Soviet leader)


I simply contend that the middle-class ideal which demands that people be affectionate, respectable, honest and content, that they avoid excitements and cultivate serenity is the ideal that appeals to me, it is in short the ideal of affectionate family life, of honorable business methods.


Gertrude Stein (1874-1946, American author)


Wearing overalls on weekdays, painting somebody else's house to earn money? You're working class. Wearing overalls at weekends, painting your own house to save money? You're middle class.


Lawrence Sutton


It is to the middle-class we must look for the safety of England.


William M. Thackeray (1811-1863, Indian-born British novelist)


For what are the classics but the noblest thoughts of man? They are the only oracles which are not decayed, and there are such answers to the most modern inquiry in them as Delphi and Dodona never gave. We might as well omit to study Nature because she is old.


Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862, American essayist, poet, naturalist)


The Americans never use the word peasant, because they have no idea of the class which that term denotes; the ignorance of more remote ages, the simplicity of rural life, and the rusticity of the villager have not been preserved among them; and they are alike unacquainted with the virtues, the vices, the coarse habits, and the simple graces of an early stage of civilization.


Alexis De Tocqueville (1805-1859, French social philosopher)


A theory of the middle class: that it is not to be determined by its financial situation but rather by its relation to government. That is, one could shade down from an actual ruling or governing class to a class hopelessly out of relation to government, thinking of government as beyond its control, of itself as wholly controlled by government. Somewhere in between and in gradations is the group that has the sense that gov't exists for it, and shapes its consciousness accordingly.


Lionel Trilling (1905-1975, American critic)


Classic: a book which people praise and don't read.


Mark Twain (1835-1910, American humorist, writer)


Each class of society has its own requirements; but it may be said that every class teaches the one immediately below it; and if the highest class be ignorant, uneducated, loving display, luxuriousness, and idle, the same spirit will prevail in humbler life.


Author Unknown


That's what being in the working class is all about -- how to get out of it.


Neville Kenneth Wran


The same people who are murdered slowly in the mechanized slaughterhouses of work are also arguing, singing, drinking, dancing, making love, holding the streets, picking up weapons and inventing a new poetry.


Raoul Vaneigem (1934-, Belgian situationist philosopher)


Other lands have their vitality in a few, a class, but we have it in the bulk of our people.


Walt Whitman (1819-1892, American poet)


Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.


Oscar Wilde (1856-1900, British author, wit)


The fact is, the public make use of the classics of a country as a means of checking the progress of Art. They degrade the classics into authorities. They use them as bludgeons for preventing the free expression of Beauty in new forms.


Oscar Wilde (1856-1900, British author, wit)


There is nothing to which men cling more tenaciously than the privileges of class.


Leonard Sidney Woolf (1880-1969, British publisher, writer)


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