I had two longings and one was fighting the other. I wanted to be loved and I wanted to be always alone.

— Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea


For now she need not think about anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of – to think; well, not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others.

— Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

So I am here — it is a beautiful moonlight night. There is nothing for me to say —My night is so different from your night — I just wish you could see it — It touches something in me that I so like to have touched — something that seems to be all of me —

— Georgia O’Keeffe, from a letter to Alfred Stieglitz written c. June 1929

I am a free man―and I need my freedom. I need to be alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company. What do you want of me? When I have something to say, I put it in print. When I have something to give, I give it. Your prying curiosity turns my stomach! Your compliments humiliate me! Your tea poisons me! I owe nothing to any one. I would be responsible to God alone―if He existed!

— Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

The dark veil enshrouding the ancient pictures had not yet wholly passed away from before them; but he already saw something in them, though in private he did not agree with the professor that the secrets of the old masters are irremediably lost to us.

— Nikolai Gogol, from The Mysterious Portrait