Louis Auchincloss Quotes
To most readers the word ‘fiction’ is an utter fraud. They are entirely convinced that each character has an exact counterpart in real life and that any small discrepancy with that counterpart is a simple error on the author’s part. Consequently, they are totally at a loss if anything essential is altered. Make Abraham Lincoln a dentist, put the Gettysburg Address on his tongue, and nobody will recognize it.
Consider, children … the pain of touching the tip of your finger to your mother’s stove, even for a fraction of a second. That is an experience which most of you have suffered. Now try to imagine that pain, not simply on a fingertip but spread over the whole surface of your body, and not for a mere second, but everlastingly. That, children, is hellfire.
Great lecturers seldom hesitate to use dramatic tricks to enshrine their precepts in the minds of their audiences, and at Yale perhaps Chauncey B. Tinker was the most noted. To read one of his lectures was like reading a monologue of the great actress Ruth Draper–you missed the main point. You missed the drop in his voice as he approached the death in Rome of the tubercular Keats; you missed the shaking tone in which he described the poet’s agony for the absent Fanny with him his love had never been consummated; you missed the grim silence of the end.
You don’t know the things in your childhood that influence you. You can’t possibly know them. People today try to analyze the early environment and the reasons for something that happened, but if you look at children of the same family — children who have identical parents, go to identical schools, have an almost identical upbringing, and yet who have totally different experiences and neuroses — you realize that what influences the children is not so much the obvious externals as their emotional experiences. Of course any psychiatrist knows that.