"A fellow will hack half a year at a block of marble to make something in stone that hardly resembles a man." -- Samuel Johnson.
“No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library,” Sully read. Samuel Johnson. Sully had never cared much for Johnson, or for Boswell, that seventeenth-century equivalent of a jock-sniffer, and this observation, like so many of Johnson’s, seemed either slightly or totally off-kilter. A library was the vindication of human hopes, wasn’t it, their realization or elaboration crystallized in books? Indirectly, though, the great lexicographer had hit home with this sally, as almost everyone who worked here at the library, Sully fancied, could present a striking example, to one degree or another, of blasted hopes. -- Chapter 21, The Misforgotten.