Epigraphs About Life

atkins-bookshelf-literatureIn the captivating little tome, The Art of the Epigraph: How Great Books Begin, Rosemary Ahern notes: “For many book lovers, there is no more pleasing start to a book than a well-chosen epigraph. These intriguing quotations, sayings, and snippets of songs and poems do more than set the tone for the experience ahead: the epigraph informs us about the author’s sensibility… The epigraph hints at hidden stories and frequently comes with one of its own.” In addition, as you read the more than 250 epigraphs that Ahern has collected, you quickly realize that authors are also readers — just like you. Below are some notable epigraphs that revolve around the concept of life.

Taking it slowly fixes everything. [Ennuis]
From The Red and the Black (1830) by Stendahl

Life treads on life, and heart on heart;
We press too close in church and mart
To keep a dream of grave apart.  [“A Vision of the Poet” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning]
From The Souls of Black Folk (1903) by W.E.B. Du Bois

O my soul, do not aspire to immortal life, but
exhaust the limits of the possible [Pythian II by Pindar]
From The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) by Albert Camus

Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mold me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me? [Paradise Lost, X.743-45, by Milton]
From Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley

Read related posts: The Surprising Original Titles of Famous Novels
The Most Influential People Who Never Lived
Famous Epic Novels by the Numbers

Famous Novels with Numbers in Their Titles
Ancient Epigraph to a Dog

For further reading: The Art of the Epigraph: How Great Books Begin by Rosemary Ahern (2012)

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