portrait of James A. Michener
At Pearl Harbor, photo by Robert Wilson, US Navy (7 December 1991)

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Quotes of the Day for 3 February 2012 – James A. Michener

James Albert Michener was probably born at Doylestown in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, probably on this day in 1907, and immediately given up for adoption. He was raised as a Quaker by his adoptive mother Mabel Michener. He graduated from Swarthmore, taught English, earned his Masters at Colorado State Teachers College, and taught at Harvard. Although his religion exempted him from military service, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II and served as a naval historian in the south Pacific. Based on that experience, he wrote Tales of the South Pacific, his first novel, which won a Pulitzer for fiction. He is best known for sweeping, epic novels based on places, starting with Hawaii in 1959, and including such titles as Alaska, Texas, and Chesapeake. He traveled widely, researched diligently, and along with a significant volume of non-fiction wrote twenty-five big, fat, readable novels, selling over 75 million copies.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.

The quotes:

I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters.

I am terrified of restrictive religious doctrine, having learned from history that when men who adhere to any form of it are in control, common men like me are in peril.

Although most of us know Vincent van Gogh in Arles and Paul Gauguin in Tahiti as if they were neighbors - somewhat disreputable but endlessly fascinating - none of us can name two French generals or department store owners of that period. I take enormous pride in considering myself an artist, one of the necessaries.

I feel myself the inheritor of a great background of people. Just who, precisely, they were, I have never known. I might be part Negro, might be part Jew, part Muslim, part Irish. So I can't afford to be supercilious about any group of people because I may be that people.

The really great writers are people like Emily Bront? who sit in a room and write out of their limited experience and unlimited imagination.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home.
     All from James A. Michener, 1907 - 1997

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