O Fortuna! Quotes to Consider On Friday the 13th

Photo by Hoàng Duy Lê on Unsplash

Editor's Note:

Who doesn’t love a good quote? For more like this, check out our quotations archive.

According to legend, Friday the 13th is a day for playing it safe, as accidents and tragedies are far more likely to occur. This irrational fear is known as paraskevidekatriaphobia, and it crests two or three times a year at the whim of the Gregorian calendar. Two of these Fridays await us in 2018, in April and July, so adjust your plans accordingly!

While most learned folk are dismissive of superstition, many others remain fascinated by the idea of fortune and its uncanny influence over our everyday lives. Even if this phenomenon exists only as a human perception, it still dominates the way we all act as we move through the world, going through motions we hope will attract positive outcomes and avert unforeseen crises.

The following authors offer meditations on the nature of luck, chance, and our all-too-human addiction to the fear of being influenced by unseen forces. Perhaps you should tuck these quotes away for reading under the covers later, if you decide to play it safe this Friday and call in sick. They say fortune favors the bold, but science has yet to deliver a ruling on the matter.

Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake, 2003
“You need to give money when someone gives you a knife. So the bad luck won’t cut you. I wouldn’t like it for you to be cut by the bad luck, Jimmy.”

P.G. Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves!, 1930
“Unseen in the background, Fate was quietly slipping lead into the boxing-glove.”

Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic, 1995
“There are some things, after all, that Sally Owens knows for certain: Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Diary, 2003
“What we don’t understand we can make mean anything.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore, 2002
“That’s how stories happen — with a turning point, an unexpected twist. There’s only one kind of happiness, but misfortune comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, 1880
“Since man cannot live without miracles, he will provide himself with miracles of his own making. He will believe in witchcraft and sorcery, even though he may otherwise be a heretic, an atheist, and a rebel.”

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, 1862
“Are you what is called a lucky man? Well, you are sad every day. Each day has its great grief or its little care. Yesterday you were trembling for the health of one who is dear to you, today you fear for your own; tomorrow it will be an anxiety about money, the next day the slanders of a calumniator, the day after the misfortune of a friend; then the weather, then something broken or lost, then a pleasure for which you are reproached by your conscience or your vertebral column; another time, the course of public affairs. Not to mention heartaches. And so on. One cloud is dissipated, another gathers. Hardly one day in a hundred of unbroken joy and sunshine. And you are of that small number who are lucky! As for other men, stagnant night is upon them.”

Josephine Hart, Damage, 1991
Lucky people should hide. Pray the days of wrath do not visit their home.”

August Wilson, Gem of the Ocean, 2003
“Sometimes you find bad luck and good luck in the same place.”

Voltaire, “The Maid of Orleans,” 1730
“Wisdom must yield to superstition’s rules,
Who arms with bigot zeal the hand of fools.”

Francis Bacon, “Of Superstition,” 1819
“There is superstition in avoiding superstition.”

Langston Hughes, “Luck,” 1947
“Sometimes a crumb falls
From the tables of joy,
Sometimes a bone
Is flung.

To some people
Love is given,
To others
Only heaven.”

Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna, 2009
“Life proceeds, it enrages. The untouched ones spend their luck without a thought, believing they deserve it.”