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Quotes / Book Burning

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"Every burned book or house enlightens the world; every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the earth from side to side."

"Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education."
Alfred Whitney, Essays on Education

"To read too many books is harmful."

"For books are not absolutely dead things, but... do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous Dragon's teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet on the other hand unless warriors be used, as good almost kill a Man a good Book; who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills Reason itself, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth; but a good Book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life."
John Milton, Areopagitica

"Burning is no answer."
Camille Desmoulines, reply to Robespierre, January 7, 1794, on burning his newspaper Vieux Cordelier.

"What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages, they would have burned me. Now, they are content with burning my books."
Sigmund Freud, 1933

"The paper burns, but the words fly away."
Akiba ben Joseph

"...when you do become cemented into a position of power that rides on the suppression of human rights and universal freedoms, one of the important ways of demonstrating that all expression is ultimately under your control is with the unforgettable spectacle of a mass book burning. There is nothing like watching the last repositories of their culture, history and ideas being burned away to suck the spirit out of a repressed people."
Cracked, "8 Unexpected Downsides of the Switch to E-Books" (#4: Book Burnings Will Have Less Visual Impact)

Colonel Vogel: What is in the book? That miserable little diary of yours. [Slaps Henry with his glove] We have the map. The book is useless. And yet you come all the way back to Berlin to get it. Why. [Slap] What are you hiding? [Slap] What does the diary tell you that it does not tell us?
[Vogel goes to slap Henry again, but Henry grabs his wrist before he can do so and glares right into his eyes]
Professor Henry Jones: It tells me that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them!

"After reading books and the like it is best to burn them or throw them away. Reading is for the Imperial Court, whereas the Way of the Samurai is death."

"When I started writing Naked Lunch, people offered their opinions. 'Disgusting' they said, 'pornographic,' 'unamerican trash', 'unpublishable.' Well, it came out in 1959 and it found an audience. Town meetings, book burnings, and an inquiry by the States Supreme Court. The book made quite a little impression."
William S. Burroughs in the movie trailer for Naked Lunch

When the Regime
commanded the unlawful books to be burned,
teams of dull oxen hauled huge cartloads to the bonfires.

Then a banished writer, one of the best,
scanning the list of excommunicated texts,
became enraged: he'd been excluded!

He rushed to his desk, full of contemptuous wrath,
to write fierce letters to the morons in power —
Burn me! he wrote with his blazing pen —
Haven't I always reported the truth?
Now here you are, treating me like a liar!
Burn me!
— "The Burning Of The Books", by Bertolt Brecht

"You will penetrate somebody today or I shall burn your wretched books in the yard!"
Atia, Rome

Sam: We need to find every single copy of those books and burn them!
Charlie: They're online now, so good luck with that.

Page 218 burst into flames most satisfactorily, blackening and curling as it burnt until nothing could be read but a few words at the spine of the book. Pages 216 and 219 also caught fire, but burned only halfway into the book before slowing down to a grudging smolder...
It was taking forever to get rid of this one miserable paperback. How had Hitler managed those famous book-burnings of the thirties? Wrong, of course, a different thing entirely, everybody knew the Nazis had been evil; still, Boatright thought wistfully, they knew how to get things done. Mussolini made the trains run on time, and Hitler burned thousands of books. Well, hundreds anyway.

Marco: "They... burned all the rest? But who would want to destroy a lot of harmless books?"
Cicero: "Ahhh, now it is time to explore the deeper meaning of things."
Marco: "Why? What do you mean?"
Cicero: "Why do you think books are harmless? Books are not harmless! Books are full of ideas! And ideas are powerful things."

I have legalized robbery
And called it relief
I have run with the money
I have hid like a thief
Rewritten histories with armies and my crooks
Invented memories
I did burn all the books
Brothers in Arms, "The Man's Too Strong"

It was a pleasure to burn.
It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black. He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.


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