The Quote Garden
 “I dig old books.”
 Est. 1998

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Quotations about
Storytelling & Stories

Related Quotes      Fairy Tales      Books      Literature      Imagination

NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.  —ღ Terri, March 2021

To be Human is to be a storyteller. ~Barbara K. Walker

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it. ~Hannah Arendt

I think we don't learn early enough in life the true value of things. Even words, it seems to me, should have value. One ought not to squander them. Talk for talk's sake never meant anything to me. That is probably why I became a good listener, although I must have learned something of it from my Indian friends. Indians never talk. They know how futile argument is. The story-teller is listened to, respectfully and silently, because he is expert testimony. ~George A. Dorsey, Young Low, 1917

Myths are stories about people who become too big for their lives temporarily, so that they crash into other lives or brush against gods. In crisis their souls are visible. ~Anne Carson, Grief Lessons: Four Plays by Euripides, 2006

The child began reading favorite stories of magic to the river, believing the tales would be carried to someone in need. ~Dr. SunWolf,

Story gives people enough space to think for themselves. ~Annette Simmons

If you're going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all. ~Joseph Campbell

Story is a yearning meeting an obstacle. ~Robert Olen Butler

To hell with facts! We need stories! ~Ken Kesey

If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. ~Rudyard Kipling

The story—from Rumplestiltskin to War and Peace—is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind for the purpose of understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. ~Ursula K. Le Guin

This is the sorcery of literature. We are healed by our stories. ~Terry Tempest Williams

Ours was a storytelling family even in pleasing times, and in those days my parents looked on words as our sustenance, rich in their flavor and wholesome for the soul. ~Natalie Kusz, Road Song, 1990

If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. ~Barry Lopez

In West Africa, when a person in the village becomes sick, the Healer will ask them, "When was the last time you sang? When was the last time that you danced? When was the last time that you shared a story?" ~Harvey Cox

And all who told it added something new,
And all who heard it, made enlargements too.
~Alexander Pope

The first law of story-telling — "Every man is bound to leave a story better than he found it." ~Mary Augusta Arnold Ward

It is said that the first storyteller crept at night to listen to the gods talking in their sleep — so each tale collected contained the breath of gods. ~Author unknown

Those who tell the stories rule the world. ~Author unknown

It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story. ~American Indian saying

The universe is made of stories, not atoms. ~Muriel Rukeyser

Any story should be this way. It should feel like pulling something burning out of yourself. There you find what you are devoted to. ~Craig Childs, March 2019, Bean Tree Farm, Tucson Mountains, Arizona, Introduction to Virga & Bone: Essays from Dry Places, 2019

      I didn't go to the worlds of story to be reminded that on a dark road your anger and your cruelty pace just behind you, daring you to turn your head, unless you let them travel safely within you.
      The books I loved best were... the ones that started in this world and took you to another.... I wanted there to be a chance to pass through a portal, and by doing so to pass from rusty reality with its scaffolding of facts and events into the freedom of story. I wanted there to be doors. If, in a story, you found the one panel in the fabric of the workaday world that was hinged, and it opened, and it turned out that behind the walls of the world flashed the gold and peacock blue of something else, and you were able to pass through, that would be a moment in which all the decisions that had been taken in this world, and all the choices that had been made, and all the facts that had been settled, would be up for grabs again: all possibilities would be renewed, for who knew what lay on the other side?
      And once opened, the door would never entirely shut behind you either. A kind of mixture would begin. A tincture of this world's reality would enter the other world... while this world would be subtly altered too, changed in status by the knowledge that it had an outside. ~Francis Spufford (b.1964), The Child That Books Built: A Life in Reading, 2002  [an "extended love letter to children's books" —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

A song ain't nothing in the world but a story just wrote with music to it. ~Hank Williams, Sr.

Faith! he must make his stories shorter
Or change his comrades once a quarter.
~Jonathan Swift

One of the choice bits of fathering is telling fairy tales in the heel of the evening when the tireless legs have begun to drag a little and the running tongue pauses a bit in its outpouring. Here is fun and sly gleaning of lore and guide posts to pleasant roads and a hint of fine taste. A good story cries out to be told and the art of listening needs to be cultivated as much as the greatly desired gift of telling. ~Angelo Patri, 1924

[S]tories are not just stories but also survival tools. ~Robin R. Bates, How Beowulf Can Save America: An Epic Hero's Guide to Defeating the Politics of Rage, 2012

The dreamer awakes,
      The shadow goes by;
      When I tell you a tale,
      The tale is a lie.
But ponder it well,
      Fair maiden, good youth:
      The tale is a lie,
      What it tells is the truth.
~Author unknown

Reason #7 for reading folktales: They remind us that sometimes the blessings and the curses get all mixed up. ~Dr. SunWolf,

Australian Aborigines say that the big stories—the stories worth telling and retelling, the ones in which you may find the meaning of your life—are forever stalking the right teller, sniffing and tracking like predators hunting their prey in the bush. ~Robert Moss

The best of the old stories spoke to the listener because they spoke not just to the ears but to the heart as well. ~Jane Yolen

I am always at a loss to know how much to believe of my own stories. ~Washington Irving

We are lonesome animals. We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say — and to feel — "Yes, that is the way it is, or at least that is the way I feel it." You're not as alone as you thought. ~John Steinbeck

Examples draw when precept fails,
And sermons are less read than tales.
~Matthew Prior

"A Fable," said the merry Æsop, with a twinkle in his witty eyes, "is a fictitious story about nothing that ever happened, related by nobody that ever lived. And the moral is, that every one is quite innocent, only they must not do it again!" ~S.J. Adair Fitz-Gerald (1859–1925), The Zankiwank & The Bletherwitch, 1896

"Always remember," the storyteller told the wide-eyed children, "once-upon-a-time in a tale also means Now." ~Dr. SunWolf,

These were, in general, ancient inhabitants of that region; born, and bred there from boyhood; who had long since become wheezy and asthmatical, and short of breath, except in the article of story-telling; in which respect they were still marvellously long-winded. ~Charles Dickens

Storytelling is our oldest form of remembering the promises we have made to one another and to our various gods, and the promises given in return; it is a way of recording our human emotions and desires and taboos. ~Jane Yolen

There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored. ~Flannery O'Connor

People are hungry for stories. It's part of our very being. ~Studs Terkel

Fantasies, visions, hallucinations or whatever we call those irrational powers that illuminate our inner life fascinate me. I'm particularly intrigued by the creative intelligence that scripts our dreams. And I love how this dramatic energy finds its way to the page, into the one form that most precisely defines who we are: story. ~A.A. Attanasio

Stories differ from advice in that, once you get them, they become a fabric of your whole soul. That is why they heal you. ~Alice Walker

Stories give color to black and white information. ~Todd Stocker

Why was Solomon recognized as the wisest man in the world? Because he knew more stories (proverbs) than anyone else. Scratch the surface in a typical boardroom and we're all just cavemen with briefcases, hungry for a wise person to tell us stories. ~Alan Kay

You might enter this story by the stage door. ~Munson Havens, Old Valentines: A Love Story, 1914

Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story. ~John Barth

Wine is a magician, for it loosens the tongue and liberates good stories. ~A Book of Old Songs, Healths, Toasts, Sentiments and Wise Sayings Pertaining to the bond of Good Fellowship, 1901

Writing a story allows us to play with our imaginary friends when we are adults. ~Dr. SunWolf,

Light a campfire and everyone's a storyteller. ~John Geddes

It's no coincidence that just at this point in our insight into our mysteriousness as human beings struggling towards compassion, we are also moving into an awakened interest in the language of myth and fairy tale. The language of logical arguments, of proofs, is the language of the limited self we know and can manipulate. But the language of parable and poetry, of storytelling, moves from the imprisoned language of the provable into the freed language of what I must, for lack of another word, continue to call faith. ~Madeleine L'Engle

Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form. ~Jean Luc Godard

Is forty-two a story? Of course it is, and it isn't. It doesn't sound like a story; it's more the name of a story, so to speak. In some sense, every story is simply the name of a longer story. ~Roger C. Shank

To be a person is to have a story to tell. ~Karen Christence Dinesen

Bedtime stories are a doorway to dreams. ~Terri Guillemets

Time, the earth, and death are living things, as stories are — so long as other living things exist to feed them, and for them to nourish in their turn. ~Robert Bringhurst, 1995, Introduction to The Dreamer Awakes by Alice Kane

All stories end in death, and he is no true storyteller who would keep that from you. ~Ernest Hemingway, as quoted in A. E. Hotchner, The Good Life According To Hemingway, 2008

...I can set down a story... ~William Shakespeare, Sonnet LXXXVIII

Fully understanding spoils the story — the best are always translucent. ~Terri Guillemets

"Happily ever after" depends on where we choose to end the story. ~Author unknown

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