41 Of The GREATEST, Most Powerful Sex And Love Quotes In Literature

"The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it."

sex love quotes

Love, that attention-seeking pain in the ass, has never been content to just drive the, ahem, layperson crazy. It sashays around, all pretty and confounding, until writers just have to try to explain it. That's when the trouble starts, of course.

Literature has quotes for days on that four-lettered blessing or curse, but I've seen one too many articles go to the well of the Brontës, Austen, and Sparks. No offense to any of them (in fact, props are due), but hopefully this list shines some light on writings you haven't seen before, and maybe there's something that rings true for whatever kind of love you're in. Or not in, if that's the case.


Crushes, attraction, dating and waiting:

1. "Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably." William Shakespeare, "Much Ado About Nothing"

2. "The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only." Victor Hugo, "Les Misérables"

3. "Beautiful things don't ask for attention." James Thurber, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"


4. "He called her a melon, a pineapple, an olive tree, an emerald, and a fox in the snow all in the space of three seconds; he did not know whether he had heard her, tasted her, seen her, or all three together." Virginia Woolf, Orlando

5. "I was always attracted not by some quantifiable, external beauty, but by something deep down, something absolute. Just as some people have a secret love for rainstorms, earthquakes, or blackouts, I liked that certain undefinable something directed my way by members of the opposite sex. For want of a better word, call it magnetism. Like it or not, it's a kind of power that snares people and reels them in." Haruki MurakamiSouth of the Border, West of the Sun

Lust, desire and wanting:

6. "Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves." Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate


7. "We are no guiltier in following the primitive impulses that govern us than is the Nile for her floods or the sea for her waves." Marquis de Sade, Aline et Vacour

8. "...As long as nothing happens between them, the memory is cursed with what hasn't happened." Marguerite Duras, Blue Eyes, Black Hair

9. "Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained." William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell


10. "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it." Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Sex and passion:

11. "Gaston was not only a fierce lover, with endless wisdom and imagination, but he was also, perhaps, the first man in the history of the species who had made an emergency landing and had come close to killing himself and his sweetheart simply to make love in a field of violets." Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

12. "To have her here in bed with me, breathing on me, her hair in my mouth I count that as something of a miracle." Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer


13. "I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state.Neil GaimanAmerican Gods

14. "Lift your hips for me, love." Tahereh MafiIgnite Me

15. "And yet another moral occurs to me now: Make love when you can. It's good for you." Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night


16. "License my roving hands, and let them go/Before, behind, between, above, below." John Donne"To His Mistress Going to Bed"


17. "Folks, I'm telling you, birthing is hard and dying is mean, so get yourself a little loving in between." Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems

18. "The highest function of love is that it makes the loved one a unique and irreplaceable being." Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

19. "Love isn't soft, like those poets say. Love has teeth which bite and the wounds never close." Stephen King, The Body

20. "You cannot save people, you can only love them." Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume Two


21. "I love you more than I hate everything else." Rainbow Rowell, Landline

Marriage and long-time love:

22. "Marriage, which has been the bourne of so many narratives, is still a great beginning, as it was to Adam and Eve, who kept their honeymoon in Eden, but had their first little one among the thorns and thistles of the wilderness. It is still the beginning of the home epic the gradual conquest or irremediable loss of that complete union which make the advancing years a climax, and age the harvest of sweet memories in common." George Eliot, Middlemarch

23. "He dug so deeply into her sentiments that in search of interest he found love, because by trying to make her love him he ended up falling in love with her. Petra Cotes, for her part, loved him more and more as she felt his love increasing, and that was how in the ripeness of autumn she began to believe once more in the youthful superstition that poverty was the servitude of love. Both looked back then on the wild revelry, the gaudy wealth, and the unbridled fornication as an annoyance and they lamented that it had cost them so much of their lives to find the paradise of shared solitude. Madly in love after so many years of sterile complicity, they enjoyed the miracle of living each other as much at the table as in bed, and they grew to be so happy that even when they were two worn-out people they kept on blooming like little children and playing together like dogs." —Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude


24. "Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage the triumph of hope over experience." Oscar Wilde, "The Importance of Being Earnest"

25. "Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new." Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

26. "Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable you should ever part." Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli's Mandolin


Toxic love:

27. "What have I eaten? Lies and smiles." Sylvia Plath, "The Jailer"

28. "I looked at this man and thought: Oh, how we are going to hurt each other." Catherynne M. Valente, In the Cities of Coin and Spice

29. "Hell, at this point, I can't imagine my story without Amy. She is my forever antagonist. We are one long frightening climax." Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl


30. "Nice people don't necessarily fall in love with nice people." Jonathan FranzenFreedom

31. "I am stuffing your mouth with your/ promises and watching/ you vomit them out upon my face." Anne Sexton, "Killing the Love"

Hard times and heartbreak:

32. "In our deepest moments, we say the most inadequate things." Edna O'Brien, A Fanatic Heart


33. "I'm not sure which is worse, intense feeling, or the absence of it." Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

34. "I know I am but summer to your heart, and not the full four seasons of the year." Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Sonnet XXVII"

35. "This is what happened in love. One of you cried a lot and then both of you grew sarcastic." Lorrie Moore, Like Life


36. "Either you have the feeling or you don't." Daniel Handler, Why We Broke Up

The sense of an ending:

37. "I can never think of you as a friend. You can do without a friend." Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

38. "Things are sweeter when they're lost. I know--because once I wanted something and got it. It was the only thing I ever wanted badly, Dot, and when I got it it turned to dust in my hand." F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and the Damned


39. "It's so nice/ to wake up in the morning/ all alone/ and not have to tell somebody /you love them /when you don't love them/ any more." Richard Brautigan, "Love Poem"

40. "It was really true, there was no longer anything about him that could interest me. He wasn't even a fragment of the past, he was only a stain, like the print of a hand left years ago on a wall." Elena Ferrante, The Days of Abandonment

41. "Longed for him. Got him. Shit." Margaret Atwood, six-word short story


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