Literary Birthday - James Agee - 27 November

James Agee was born 27 November 1909, and died 16 May 1955

James Agee: Nine Quotes

  1. Isn’t every human being both a scientist and an artist; and in writing of human experience, isn’t there a good deal to be said for recognizing that fact and for using both methods?
  2. I’m very anxious not to fall into archaism or 'literary' diction. I want my vocabulary to have a very large range, but the words must be alive.
  3. If I could do it, I’d do no writing at all here. It would be photographs; the rest would be fragments of cloth, bits of cotton, lumps of earth, records of speech, pieces of wood and iron, phials of odours, plates of food and of excrement. Booksellers would consider it quite a novelty; critics would murmur, yes, but is it art; and I could trust a majority of you to use it as you would a parlour game.
  4. You must be in tune with the times and prepared to break with tradition.
  5. Because whatever is, is. That's all. And all there is now is to be ready for it, strong enough for it, whatever it may be. That's all. That's all that matters. 
  6. The mere attempt to examine my own confusion would consume volumes.
  7. In every child who is born, under no matter what circumstances, and of no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again.
  8. As a whole part of 'psychological education' it needs to be remembered that a neurosis can be valuable; also that 'adjustment' to a sick and insane environment is of itself not "health" but sickness and insanity.
  9. How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. So far, so much between, you can never go home again.

Agee was an American author, journalist, poet, screenwriter and film critic. His autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family won the author a posthumous Pulitzer Prize. 

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