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Genius

  • ... genius must ever be imperfect. Life is not long enough nor slow enough for both brain and character to grow side by side to superhuman proportions.

  • ... her age was that indeterminate mixture of everlasting youth and anticipated wisdom which is the glory and the curse of genius.

  • But I have always thought the only genius that's worth anything is the genius for hard work.

  • The infirmities of genius are often mistaken for its privileges.

  • Genius is the gold in the mine, talent is the miner who works and brings it out.

    • Countess of Blessington,
    • in R.R. Madden, The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington, vol. 1 ()
  • The words of genius have a wider meaning than the thought that prompted them.

  • Genius ... is necessarily intolerant of fetters ...

  • Genius at first is little more than a great capacity for receiving discipline.

  • Geniuses were like storms or cyclones, pulling everything into their path, sticks and stones and dust.

  • The life of great geniuses is nothing but a sublime storm.

    • George Sand,
    • in J. De Finod, ed., A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness ()
  • You can't have genius without patience.

  • Genius will live and thrive without training, but it does not the less reward the watering-pot and pruning knife.

    • Margaret Fuller,
    • in Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Margaret Fuller Ossoli ()
  • In the career of a prodigy there invariably comes a time when it is compelled to relinquish being very clever for a child, and has to enter the business of life in competition with adults.

  • The difference between genius and stupidity is that even genius has its limits.

  • I told her it was not quite en règle to bring one so far out of our own set; but she said, 'Genius itself is not en règle; it comes into the world to make new rules.'

  • Genius is a strong aphrodisiac.

  • ... it is quite hard at times to distinguish a genius from a lunatic.

  • There is no balking Genius. Only death / Can silence it — or hinder.

  • It is characteristic of genius to be hopeful and aspiring. It is characteristic of genius to break up the artificial arrangements of conventionalism, and to view mankind in true perspective, in their gradations of inherent rather than of adventitious worth. Genius is therefore essentially democratic, and has always been so ...

  • Blessed the geniuses who know / that egomania is not a duty.

  • ... parents are too apt to mistake inclination for genius.

  • It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.

  • ... only geniuses write without making money.

  • Since when was genius found respectable?

  • What is genius — but the power of expressing a new individuality?

  • Genius is the talent for seeing things straight. It is seeing things in a straight line without any bend or break or aberration of sight, seeing them as they are, without any warping of vision. Flawless mental sight! That is genius!

    • Maude Adams,
    • in Ada Patterson, Maude Adams: A Biography ()
  • Human nature is a mystic duality, half animal, half angel; a worm, a God; and the contrast and strife between the two natures is never so marked as in the gifted.

  • It takes people a long time to learn the difference between talent and genius, especially ambitious young men and women.

  • Now and then genius carries all before it, but not often. We have to climb slowly, with many slips and falls.

  • ... genius has no limit of sex or race.

    • Olive Schreiner,
    • 1913, in S.C. Cronwright-Schreiner, ed., The Letters of Olive Schreiner 1876-1920 ()
  • They talk of genius — it is nothing but this, that a man knows what he can do best, and does it, and nothing else.

  • Genius is a good deal like the sea ... Nothing can restrain its tide or quicken it.

  • ... one is not born a genius, one becomes a genius ...

  • The individuals who seem to us most outstanding, who are honored with the name of genius, are those who have proposed to enact the fate of all humanity in their personal existences.

  • Genius has no sex!

    • Madame de Staël,
    • c. 1798, in J. Christopher Herold, Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël ()
  • The thinking of a genius does not proceed logically. It leaps with great ellipses. It pulls knowledge from God knows where.

  • You can do something with talent, but nothing with genius ...

  • ... the possession of wealth, and especially the inheritance of wealth, seems almost invariably to sterilize genius.

  • ... she had the egoism that is more selfless than most people's altruism — the divine egoism that is genius.

  • ... genius ... arises in the natural, aboriginal concern for the conscious unity of all phenomena.

  • The real wonder is not that one man should be a genius, but that every man should not be.

  • Genius may be for an hour or a thousand years; its indispensable quality is continuity with the life-push.

  • Even the people who have it do not definitely know what genius is.

  • One of the marks of true genius is a quality of abundance. A rich, rollicking abundance, enough to give indigestion to ordinary people. Great artists turn it out in rolls, in swatches. They cover whole ceilings with paintings, they chip out a mountainside in stone, they write not one novel but a shelf full. It follows that some of their work is better than other. As much as a third of it may be pretty bad. Shall we say this unevenness is the mark of their humanity — of their proud mortality as well as of their immortality?

  • ... a masterpiece doesn't so much transcend its time as perpetuate it; it keeps its moment alive.

  • True genius doesn't fulfill expectations, it shatters them ...

  • Genius and sunshine have this in common that they are the two most precious gifts of heaven to earth, and are dispensed equally to the just and the unjust.

  • ... the distinction between talent and genius is definite. Talent combines and uses; genius combines and creates.

  • Genius does not only pertain to the brain, it belongs above all to the heart.

    • Juliette Drouet,
    • 1844, in Louis Gimbaud, ed., The Love Letters of Juliette Drouet to Victor Hugo ()
  • Gift, like genius, I often think, only means an infinite capacity for taking pains.

  • We are and have long been excited and inspired by the notion of human genius, because even if we ourselves are not — and the accomplishments of a genius are a measure of our own inferiority — nevertheless the idea that some human beings have achieved so much is exhilarating and makes us dream and discover some spark of talent that may be in ourselves.

  • You cannot create genius. All you can do is nurture it.

  • A genius who does not know that he is a genius is no genius.

  • Genius, apart from natural sensitiveness, is prone equally to unreasoning joy and to bitterest morbidness.

  • ... genius is original, unique; and in whatever form it may develop itself is the greatest gift that can be given to man, the strongest known link between the material life we have and the spiritual life that we can only guess at. Every great poet, painter, or musician — every inventor or man of science, every fine actor or orator, comes to us as the exponent of something diviner than we know. We cannot understand it, but we feel it, and acknowledge it.

  • ... when you think you've got hold of a genius ... you can't be sure whether it's a spark of the divine fire or a mere flash in the pan.

  • The reluctance to put away childish things may be a requirement of genius.

  • A man may be a great statesman, and yet dislike his wife, and like somebody else's. A man may be a great hero, and yet he may have an unseemly passion, or an unpaid tailor. But the British public does not understand this. ... It thinks, unhappily or happily as you may choose to consider, that genius should keep the whole ten commandments. Now, genius is conspicuous for breaking them.

  • Geniuses should always be given dinners when they are struggling; it gives them encouragement. If you wait till they are recognized it only gives them indigestion.

  • Genius is a talent only for living, those who possess it have little gift for dying.

  • I am sick of the jargon about the idleness of genius. All the greatest geniuses have worked hard at everything — energetic, persevering, and laborious. ... it is the energy that gives what we call 'genius'; that leaves its impression on all it touches. Nothing but mediocrity is slothful and idle.

  • The stigma of oddness is the price a myopic world always exacts of a genius.

    • Amy Lowell,
    • "A Memoir," in Louis Untermeyer, ed., The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell ()
  • ... does it not appear to you that versatility is the true and rare characteristic of that rare thing called genius — versatility and playfulness? In my mind they are both essential.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1813, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 1 ()
  • ... it seems to me that genius is the ability to know precisely the right thing to do without the prop of experience.

  • [On Einstein:] You cannot analyze him, otherwise you will misjudge him. Such a genius should be irreproachable in every respect. But no, nature doesn't behave like this. Where she gives extravagantly, she takes away extravagantly.

    • Elsa Einstein,
    • letter, in Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem ()
  • A profound dislike for merely absorbing knowledge and a compulsion to learn by doing are among the most reliable signs of genius.

  • Next to genius, is the power / Of feeling where true genius lies.

  • One good thing about being a woman is we haven't too many examples yet of what a genius looks like. It could be me.

  • Genius is expansive, irresistible, and irresistibly expansive. If it is in you, no cords can confine it.

  • Talent is the infinite capacity for taking pains. Genius is the infinite capacity for achievement without taking any pains at all.

  • Eventually it comes to you: the thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely ...

  • The meaning of genius is that it doesn't have to work to attain what people without it must labor for — and not attain.

  • Fortunately, there is excess in greatness; it can lose more than mediocrity possesses, and still be great.