I write books to find out about things.
Just how difficult it is to write biography can be reckoned by anybody who sits down and considers just how many people know the real truth about his or her love affairs.
It seemed a good idea at the time.
Great music is in a sense serene; it is certain of the values it asserts.
Art is not a luxury, but a necessity.
the law, like art, is always vainly racing to catch up with experience.
There is nothing rarer than a man who can be trusted never to throw away happiness, however eagerly he sometimes grasps it. In history we are as frequently interested in our own doom.
It is the soul's duty to be loyal to its own desires. It must abandon itself to its master passion.
If the whole human race lay in one grave, the epitaph on its headstone might well be: 'It seemed like a good idea at the time.'
Yes," said Mamma, "this is the worst of life, that love does not give us common sense but is a sure way of losing it. We love people, and we say that we are going to do more for them than friendship, but it makes such fools of us that we do far less, indeed sometimes what we do could be mistaken for the work of hatred.
There is no such thing as conversation. It is an illusion. There are intersecting monologues, that is all.
Did St. Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats.
You must always believe that life is as extraordinary as music says it is.
Marriage had certain commercial advantages. By it the man secures the exclusive right to the woman's body and by it, the woman binds the man to support her during the rest of her life.... A more disgraceful bargain was never struck.
Life ought to be a struggle of desire toward adventures whose nobility will fertilize the soul.
The trouble about man is twofold. He cannot learn truths which are too complicated; he forgets truths which are too simple.
Existence in itself, taken at its least miraculous, is a miracle.
Writing has nothing to do with communication between person and person, only with communication between different parts of a person's mind.
Any authentic work of art must start an argument between the artist and his audience.
Motherhood is the strangest thing, it can be like being one's own Trojan horse.
The main difference between men and women is that men are lunatics and women are idiots.
I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.
God forbid that any book should be banned. The practice is as indefensible as infanticide.
Literature must be an analysis of experience and a synthesis of the findings into a unity.
art is at least in part a way of collecting information about the universe.
After any disturbance (such as two world wars coinciding with a period of growing economic and monetary incomprehensibility) we find our old concepts inadequate and look for new ones. But it unfortunately happens that the troubled times which produce an appetite for new ideas are the least propitious for clear thinking.
Bad art is maintained by the neurotic, who is deadly afraid of authentic art because it inspires him to go on living, and he is terrified of life.
whatever a work of art may be, the artist certainly cannot dare to be simple. He must have a nature as complicated and as violent, as totally unsuggestive of the word innocence, as a modern war.
Art is not a plaything, but a necessity, and its essence, form, is not a decorative adjustment, but a cup into which life can be poured and lifted to the lips and be tasted.
I do not myself find it agreeable to be 90, and I cannot imagine why it should seem so to other people. It is not that you have any fears about your own death, it is that your upholstery is already dead around you.
What is art? It is not decoration. It is the re-living of experience.
The delight we find in art amounts to recognition of a saving grace, to an acknowledgment that the problem of life has a solution implicit in its own nature, though not yet formulated by the intellect.
Anthologies are mischievous things. Some years ago there was a rage for chemically predigested food, which was only suppressed when doctors pointed out that since human beings had been given teeth and digestive organs they had to be used or they degenerated very rapidly. Anthologies are predigested food for the brain.
[Evelyn Waugh] made drunkenness cute and chic, and then took to religion, simply to have the most expensive carpet of all to be sick on.
the reward for total abstinence from alcohol seems, illogically enough, to be the capacity for becoming intoxicated without it.
Were it possible for us to wait for ourselves to come into the room, not many of us would find our hearts breaking into flower as we heard the door handle turn.
Art and propaganda have this much connection, that if a propaganda makes art impossible, it is clearly damned.
It's an absurd error to put modern English literature in the curriculum. You should read contemporary literature for pleasure or not at all. You shouldn't be taught to monkey with it.
It would be no loss to the world if most of the writers now writing had been strangled at birth.
No great thing happens suddenly.