Best epigrams

Best epigrams for the books or works that they begin. Here are mine:

From John Ralston Saul, Reflections of a Siamese Twin: Canada at the End of the Twentieth Century (one of the best books on Canadian identity ever written)

Ice Wolf reads that an epigram is:


Three things:

(a) How do your favourites above fit in to the definition, matt_mcl?
(b) Was this a humourous post of yours? (Lately, I’ve blundered into a few well-camouflaged jokes on these forums)
© Personally, I prefer Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker.

Oh goddammit!

I ment epigraphs, obviously. (My favourite literary device.)

I wouldn’t be averse to a mod changing the title of the thread, actually.

Okay. Haven’t come up upon the epigraph before. Sorry.
Uh …
I see before me a definition: “epigraph: a motto or short pithy sentence of dedication.”
Uh …
Your examples are kinda long for epigraphs, maybe?

Just thought I should add – I’m not trying to stir anyone up over this – I’m genuinely curious.

They were epigraphs in the sense that they’d been used as epigraphs in books.

I think somebody should actually contribute one soon. OK. From the four parts of “Gravity’s Rainbow”:

1). “Nature does not know exitinction; all it knows is tranformation. Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death.”
Werner von Braun

2). “You will have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood.”
Merian C. Cooper to Fay Wray

3). “Toto, I have the feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…”
Dorothy on arriving in OZ

4). “What?”
Richard M. Nixon

Favorite epigraph:
S`io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

That’s the epigraph to T.S. Eliot’s The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock. It’s lifted from Canto 26 of Dante’s Inferno.
Favorite epigram:

The Committee to Re-Elect the President, or CREEP. Their goal was to get Nixon reëlected in 1972. All I can say is: careful what you wish for.

“The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.”

Actually, I like the epigraphs in my book “Medusa”. I chose them with some care, and I actually had to PAY for some of them. I especially like the one to chapter five “Explanations”, which I lifted from Charles Finney’s “The Circus of Dr. Lao”. The epigraph fronm Chapter 1 is from that, too, and is short enough for me to remember:

“I have made a special study of medusas, and am therefore able to tell you something about them.”

“This was uncalled for.”

  • Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

possibly not witty unto itself, but if you read the book you will see the humor (albeit sick and sad) in these first few words

Cool. Somebody besides me and Ukulele Ike whose read “The Circus of Dr. Lao”. Let’s get everybody here to read it and then start a SD campaign to get it back in print.

Since I’m here:
From “The Gods Themselves”, Issac Asimov:

“Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain”

I frequently go around muttering that one to myself.