A Black Balloon Publication ©
By Freddie Moore

(Credit: Photo from Flickr user Germán Póo-Caamaño; used with Creative Commons license)

Undoubtedly, there are unforgettable lines in literature, but what readers choose to remember still varies. Favorite quotes often stick with you because the words resonate with you at that time in your life, because they capture aspects of your past or your hopeful future, or maybe just because they were drilled into you by that one hard-ass professor.

Whatever the case may be, here are 25 famous lines from classic works of literature — can you match each to its source?

1. "So [said the doctor]. Now vee may perhaps to begin. Yes?"
2. “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
3. "In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. Whenever you feel like criticising any one, he told me, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
4. “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
5. “If you have the guts to be yourself, other people'll pay your price.”
6. “ It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair”
7. “Be men, or be more than men. Be steady to your purposes and firm as a rock. This ice is not made of such stuff as your hearts may be; it is mutable and cannot withstand you if you say that it shall not.”
8. “I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
9. “What does the brain matter compared with the heart?”
10. "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in good fortune must be in want of a wife"
11. “That's the whole trouble. You can't even find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write ‘Fuck you’ right under your nose.”
12. "There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who are smart enough to know better."
13. "Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before."
14. “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’”
15. ''The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.''
16. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. ”
17. “In your rocking-chair, by your window dreaming, shall you long, alone. In your rocking-chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel.”
18. “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
19. “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
20. "But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."
21. ''I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.''

So, how did you do? Which lines still resonate with you? Which are still drilled into your brain? Do you have any other favorite quotes that weren’t included in the quiz above? Tell us all about it in the comments below.


Freddie Moore is a Brooklyn-based writer. Her full name is Winifred, and her writing has appeared in unFold, The Paris Review Daily and The Huffington Post. As a former co-president of SUNY Purchase’s Cheese Club, she’s a big-time foodie who knows her cheese.

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