Tag Archives: literary oddities

Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige on a Balanced Social Life

“Go very lightly on the vices, such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain’t restful.”

“How to Keep Young,” Colliers, 13 June 1953

Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Richard Pryor on Marriage

“Marriage is really tough because you have to deal with feelings and lawyers.”

Richard Pryor, quoted in Robert Byrne, The Third and Possibly the Best 637 Things Anybody Ever Said (1986)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

The Algonquin Wits: Dorothy Parker on Fidelity

“One noon hour at the Round Table, a lady author was congratulating herself on here marital success and extolling the virtues of her mate. ‘I’ve kept him for seven years,” she concluded with pride. The Round Table group did not share the wife’s opinion of her spouse, however, considering him an extremely dull fellow. Mrs. Parker answered the lady’s remark: ‘Don’t worry, if you keep him long enough he’ll come back in style.”

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.

The Pentagram—Solomon’s Seal

The five-pointed star, the Pentagram, was a symbol of absolute authority to the Sumerian civilization of Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), as early as the third millennium BC. It represented an additional axis or the royal authority reaching out to the four corners of the earth. Later, in classical Greece, it was used as a mystic symbol by Pythagoreans and in early Jewish lore it was associated with Solomon’s Seal, a magical signet ring of King Solomon which gave him the power to command demons and speak to animals. (Confusingly, Solomon’s Seal can also be depicted as a hexagon.)

This Seal of Solomon was revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Indeed an interlinked ribbon version—known as the Seal of Solomon—is used on the Moroccan national flag. Medieval astrologers interpreted the pentagram as a symbol of the five wounds of Christ. However, the symbol dropped out of Christian use, having been co-opted by medieval necromancers and modern witchcraft.

Renaissance occultists made a distinction in the star’s orientation. When pointed upwards the star was good, symbolizing spirit presiding over the four elements of matter. Pointing down it was evil—the sign of the goat of black magic (whose face could be drawn in the star or its beard and horn suggested by the points). Wiccans have adopted the symbol (in its good form) as their emblem, and it is widely used by neo-Pagans, often as a pentacle, within an enclosed circle.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

The Devil’s Dictionary: Libertarian

“Libertarian, n. One who is compelled by the evidence to believe in free-will, and whose will is therefore free to reject that doctrine.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 

Walter Page Hines on Woodrow Wilson

“The air currents of the world never ventilated his mind.”

Walter Page Hines on Woodrow Wilson

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

The Devil’s Dictionary: Abstruseness

“Abstruseness, n. The bait of a bare hook.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 

Ad Nauseam

“Ad Nauseam To the point of vomiting: to a sickening or wearisome degree, unrelievedly.

‘Henry Miller couldn’t feel anything and dug graves for a living. William Burroughs was an exterminator, Carl Sandburg was a janitor, Faulkner had to run rum, and so on, ad nauseam.’ Robert Hendrickson, The Literary Life”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

Rotten Reviews: Castle to Castle by Louis-Ferdinand Celine

“…quite a tedious book.”

John Weightman, New York Review of Books 

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.    

Denis Diderot on Moral Precepts

“There is no moral precept that does not have something inconvenient about it.”

Denis Diderot

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.