From Dylan Thomas’s adage, “Do not go gentle into that good night … Rage, rage against the dying of the light” to John Irving’s observation that “If we live long enough, we become caricatures of ourselves,” the greatest writers have always explored the vagaries and contradictions of aging.
1. “How old do you have to get before wisdom descends like a plastic bag over your head and you learn to keep your big mouth shut? Maybe never. Maybe you get frivolous with age.” —The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
2. “Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old.”—A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
3. “You just couldn’t get hold of the things you had done and turn them right again. Such power might be given to the gods, but it was not given to men and women, and that was probably a good thing. Had it been otherwise, people would probably die of old age still trying to rewrite their teens.”—The Stand by Stephen King
4. “The door to my room has no lock. They say it is because I might get taken ill in the night…So they may enter my room any time they choose. Privacy is a privilege not granted to the aged or the young. Sometimes very young children can look at the old, and a look passes between them, conspiratorial, sly and knowing.”—The Stone Angel by Margaret Lawrence
5. “Perhaps this was one of the tragedies life plots for us: it is our destiny to become in old age what in youth we would have most despised.”—The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes