Graham Greene

Graham
Greene
1904
1991

English Novelist, Short-Story Writer, Playwright

Author Quotes

Oh, it's not done, 'I said,' but neither is adultery or theft or running away from the enemy's fire. The not done things are done every day, Henry. It's part of modern life. I've done most of it them myself.

People talk about the courage of condemned men walking to the place of execution: sometimes it needs as much courage to walk with any kind of bearing towards another person's habitual misery.

It was not merely that his brother was dead. His brain, too young to realize the full paradox, wondered with an obscure self- pity why it was that the pulse of his brother's fear went on and on, when Francis was now where he had always been told there was no more terror and no more--darkness.

Love had turned into love affair with a beginning and an end.

My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.

Oh, she doesn't belong to anybody now,' he said, and suddenly I saw her for what she was - a piece of refuse waiting to be cleared away: if you needed a bit of hair you could take it, or trim her nails if nail trimmings had value to you. Like a saint's her bones could be divided up - if anybody required them. She was going to be burnt soon, so why shouldn't everybody have what he wanted first? What a fool I had been during three years to imagine that in any way I had possessed her. We are all possessed by nobody, not even by ourselves.

Perhaps a novelist has a greater ability to forget than other men--he has to forget or become sterile. What he forgets is the compost of the imagination.

It is one of the strange discoveries a man can make that life, however you lead it, contains moments of exhilaration; there are always comparisons which can be made with worse times: even in danger and misery the pendulum swings.

It was not the kind of surroundings in which any one with free will — if such a man existed — would have chosen to await death.

Lust is not the worst thing. It is because any day, any time, lust may turn into love that we have to avoid it. And when we love our sin then we are damned indeed.

Never presume yours is a better morality.

Oh,' the priest said, 'that's another thing altogether - God is love. I don't say the heart doesn't feel a taste of it, but what a taste. The smallest glass of love mixed with a pint pot of ditch-water. We wouldn't recognize that love. It might even look like hate. It would be enough to scare us - God's love. It set fire to a bush in the desert, didn't it, and smashed open graves and set the dead walking in the dark. Oh, a man like me would run a mile to get away if he felt that love around.

Perhaps his laughter saved them — it must be difficult to shoot a laughing man: you have to feel important to kill.

It is the destiny of a lover to watch unhappiness hardening like a cast around his mistress.

It was the hour of prayer. Black-beetles exploded against the walls like crackers. More than a dozen crawled over the tiles with injured wings. It infuriated him to think that there were still people in the state who believed in a loving and merciful God. There are mystics who are said to have experienced God directly. He was a mystic, too, and what he had experienced was vacancy — a complete certainty in the existence of a dying, cooling world, of human beings who had evolved from animals for no purpose at all. He knew.

Man is made by the places in which he lives.

No danger anywhere, it seemed to Rollo Martins of that sudden reckless moment when the scent of hair or a hand against the side alters life.

Old age saves us from the realization of a great many fears.

Perhaps it is only in childhood books have any deep that influence on our lives. In later life we admire, we are entertained, we may modify some views we already hold, but we are more likely to find in books merely a confirmation of what it is in our minds already, in a love affair as it is our own features that we see reflected flatteringly back. But in childhood all books are books of divination, telling us about the future, and like the fortune teller who sees a long journey in the cards or death by water they influence the future. That is why i suppose books excited us so much. What do we ever get nowadays from reading to equal the excitement and the revelation in those first fourteen years? … It is in those early years that I would look for the crisis, the moment when life took a new slant in its journey towards death.

It is the earliest dream that I can remember, earlier than the witch at the corner of the nursery passage, this dream of something outside that has got to come in. The witch, like the masked dancers, has form, but this is simply power, a force exerted on a door, an influence that drifted after me upstairs and pressed against windows.

It was the little things which tripped you up.

Man made God in his own image, so it's natural he should love him. You know those distorting mirrors at fairs. Man has made a beautifying mirror too in which he sees himself lovely and powerful and just and wise. It's his idea of himself. He recognizes himself easier than in the distorting mirror which only makes him laugh, but how he loves himself in the other.

Nobody here could ever talk about a heaven on earth. Heaven remained rigidly in its proper place on the other side of death, and on this side flourished the injustices, the cruelties, the meanness that elsewhere people so cleverly hushed up. Here you could love human beings nearly as God loved them, knowing the worst: you didn’t love a pose, a pretty dress, a sentiment artfully assumed.

One can't love humanity. One can only love people.

Perhaps the comparison is closer to the Chinese cook who leaves hardly any part of a duck unserved.

Author Picture
First Name
Graham
Last Name
Greene
Birth Date
1904
Death Date
1991
Bio

English Novelist, Short-Story Writer, Playwright