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The Human Stain

Critique • Quotes

Human Stain first editionFirst edition
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First publication

Literature form


Writing language

Author's country
United States

Approx. 129,000 words

Notable lines

It was in the summer of 1998 that my neighbor Coleman Silk—who, before retiring two years earlier, had been a classics professor at nearby Athena College for some twenty-odd years as well as serving for sixteen more as the dean of faculty—confided to me that, at the age of seventy-one, he was having an affair with a thirty-four-year-old cleaning woman who worked down at the college.

— First line

The moment a man starts to tell you about sex, he's telling you something about the two of you.... Most men never find such a friend.


The secret to living in the rush of the world with a minimum of pain is to get as many people as possible to string along with your delusions....


"Everyone knows" is the invocation of the cliché and the beginning of the banalization of experience, and it's the solemnity and the sense of authority that people have in voicing the cliché that's so insufferable. What we know is that, in an unclichéd way, nobody knows anything.


As it is a human thing to know a secret, it is also a human thing, sooner or later, to reveal it.


Only rarely, at the end of our century, does life offer up a vision as pure and peaceful as this one: a lake that's constantly turning over its water atop an Arcadian mountain in America.

— Last line


Critique • Quotes

See also:

A Man in Full

The Blind Assassin

Harlot's Ghost

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