I dislike modern memoirs. They are generally written by people who have either entirely lost their memories, or have never done anything worth remembering.
(Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Anglo-Irish playwright, author. Ernest, in The Critic as Artist, pt. 1, published in Intentions (1891).
He continued, "which, however, is, no doubt, the true explanation of their popularity, as the English public always feels perfectly at its ease when a mediocrity is talking to it." In reply, Gilbert disagreed with Ernest's view of autobiography: "In literature mere egotism is delightful.")
We are made happy when reason can discover no occasion for it. The memory of some past moments is more persuasive than the experience of present ones. There have been visions of such breadth and brightness that these motes were invisible in their light.
(Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Letter, March 2, 1842, to Lucy Brown, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, pp. 41-42, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
Thoreau refers here to his reaction to the death of his brother, John.)
In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the memory of my young friend, and your brave and early fallen child. May God give you that consolation which is beyond all earthly power.
(Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), U.S. president. Letter to Ephraim D. and Phoebe Ellsworth, May 25, 1861. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 4, p. 385, Rutgers University Press (1953, 1990).)
We see daily that our lives are terrible and little, without continuity, buyable and salable at any moment, mere blips on a screen, that this is the way we live now. Memory marketed as nostalgia; terror reduced to mere suspense, to melodrama.
(Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet and essayist. What is Found There, ch. 3 (1993).)