In 2021, Anthony Doerr made a long-awaited comeback into the global literary scene with his third novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land. His latest novel came seven years after his resoundingly successful sophomore novel, All The Lights We Cannot See (2014) which won the prestigious literary award, Pulitzer Prize. Cloud Cuckoo Land did not escape the notice of literary pundits and casual readers alike. Like its predecessor, it was a finalist for the National Book Award. For this Quotable Quotes post, I have rounded up some of the book quotes that have caught my attention.

Do check out my complete review of this literary work by clicking here.


“I am Aethon, a simple shepherd from Arkadia, and the tale I have to tell is so ludicrous, so incredible, that you’ll never believe a word of it – and yet, it’s true. For I, the one they called birdbrain and nincompoop – yes, I dull-witted muttonheadeed lamebrained Aethon – once traveled all the way to the edge of the earth and beyond…”

~ Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

“All her life she has been led to believe that she is a child born at the end of things: the empire, the era, the reign of men on earth. But in the glow of the scribes’ enthusiasm, she senses that in a city like Urbino, beyond the horizon, other possibilities might exist, and in daydreams she takes flight across the Aegean, through her spread fingers, until she alights in a bringht clean palace, full of Justice and Moderation, its rooms lined with books, free to anyone who can read them.”

~ Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

He translates one book of the Iliad, two of the Odyssey, plus an admirable slice of Plato’s Republic. Five lines on an average day, ten on a good one, scribbled onto yellow legal pads in his crimped pencil-writing and stuffed into boxes beneath the dining table. Sometimes he belives his translations are adequate. Usually he decides they’re terrible. He shows them to no one.

~ Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

“The things that look fixed in the world, child – mountains, wealth, empires – their permanence is only an illusion. We belive they will last, but that is only because of the brevity of our own lives. From the perspective of God, cities like this come and go like anthills.”

~ Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

But as he reconstructs Zeno’s translation, he realizes that the truth is infinitely more complicated, that we are all beautiful even as we are all part of the problem, and that to be a part of the problem is to be human.

~ Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

But books, like people, die. They die in fires or floods or in the mouths of worms or at the whims of tyrants. If they are not safeguarded they go out of the world. And when a book goes out of the world, the memory dies a second death.

~ Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

“Why can’t healing happen as quickly as wounding? You twist an ankle, break a bone – you can be hurt in a heartbeat. Hour by hour, week by week, year by year, the cells in your body labor to remake themselves the way they were the instant before your injury. But even then you’re never the same, not quite.”

~ Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

A library, no matter how humble or grand, is a series of sacred gateways. You pass through them and leave your own city behind; you journey through time and space; and for a little while, you escape the confines of your own circumstances. Each of us who are readers gets to live through a multiplicity of eras; we get to tiptoe through, to borrow Jorge Luis Borge’s phrase, ‘a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent, and parallel times.’

~ Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

Eventually I grew wary: I have traveled so far, yet was no closer to my destination than when I began. I was a fish in side a sea inside a bigger fish inside a bigger sea, and I wondered if the world itself swam also inside the belly of a much bigger fish, all of us fish in side fish inside fish. And then, tired of much wondering, I shut my scaly eyes and slept.

~ Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

He should have risked more. It has taken him his whole life to accept himself, and he is surprised to understand that now that he can, he does not long for one more year, one more month, eighty-six years has been enough. In a life you accumulate so many memories, your brain constantly winnonwing through them, weighing consequence, burying pain, but somehow by the time you’re this age you still end up dragging a monumental sck of memories behind you, a burden as heavy as a continent, and eventually it becomes time to take them out of the world.

~ Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land