I love a good epigraph.

Some readers page right past them, ignore them completely, think they’re a waste of space.  Not me.  While reading a book, a book I love, I’ll often flip back to the epigraph and think about how perfect — or imperfect — it is for the story.  I’ll wonder how it was chosen.  Years before?  So late it barely made it to print?  Was it the writer’s idea?  The editor’s?

I have many favorites.  Here are two:

But what a shining animal is man,

Who knows, when pain subsides, that is not that,

For worse than that must follow — yet can write

Music, can laugh, play tennis, even plan.

– Edna St. Vincent Millay “Sonnet CLXXI”



. . . I seek that essential region of the soul where absolute evil confronts brotherhood.

– Andre Malraux, “Lazare” 1974




When I started writing this post, I intended to share a few I’m considering for my own book.  Now that feels like tempting the fates — the book’s not finished and who knows how this will all end — so I’m tucking them back inside my vest and zipping up.


Do you bother with the epigraphs?  Give me one of your favorites.