Issue 4/1986 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Aphorisms from Pahojen henkien historia (‘A history of evil spirits’, 1986). Markku Envall’s essay on aphorism

Do not set out in the wrong mood, at the wrong moment, for the wrong place.

Learn to distinguish these from one another, for it is an impossible task.

Do not admit to changes in yourself, say rather that your associates vary.

And that your relationships are changeable. But do not say this of yourself.

Not knowing a person should not be regarded as sufficient reason for not making his acquaintance.


To depend on more than one person is the only way to achieve relative freedom.

Watch out for a diminution of the area of contact, don’t let it narrow itself to a point.

Do not carry good manners so far that you begin to defend other people’s opinions against your own, Except in fun, except in fun.

By all means throw stones at people standing on the same rock. Choose small ones, and call it kindness.


To rejoice in complete freedom of speech is short-sighted. The more one is allowed to say, the fewer people will listen.

Censorship is a tribute to the importance of literature. If the threat were a small one, no government would bother.

A writer must say the things that one is forbidden to say. If one were allowed to say everything, the bottom would fall out of his job.

The majority has always imagined that everything that can be known can (and may) be said.

The writer has to invent the things that must not be said: until someone says them, they do not exist.


Critics are the priests of literature. Authors are its saints and evil spirits.

The critic’s dilemma: many a book would be a pleasure to read, if one did not have to write about it.

The reader’s pleasure is twofold: in visiting strange surroundings, and in getting away from his own.

It is not enough to find the right book. One must find it at the right moment.

He who is not interested in what literature contains is not interested in what the world contains.

Translated by David Barrett


1 comment:

  1. Arty 'Arty

    Saying something meaningful, here, right here & now, is never quite enough.

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