T. H. White, fully Terence Hanbury White

T. H.
White, fully Terence Hanbury White
1906
1964

English Author best known for Arthurian novels including "The Once and Future King"

Author Quotes

I am sure it doesn’t. But then, you see, moot points have to be settled somehow, once they get thrust upon us. If an assertion cannot be proved, then it must be settled some other way, and nearly all of these ways are unfair to somebody. It is not as if you would have to fight the Queen’s champion in your own person, Mordred. You could plead infirmity and hire the strongest man you knew to fight for you, and the Queen would, of course, get the strongest man she knew to fight for her. It would be much the same thing if you each hired the best arguer you knew, to argue about it. In the last resort it is usually the richest person who wins, whether he hires the most expensive arguer or the most expensive fighter, so it is no good pretending that this is simply a matter of brute force.

Is there anything more terrible than perpetual motion, than doing and doing and doing, without a reason, without a consciousness, without a change, without an end?

Kay was not at all an unpleasant person really, but clever, quick, proud, passionate and ambitious. He was one of those people who would be neither a follower nor a leader, but only an aspiring heart, impatient in the failing body which imprisoned it.

No, they won’t. That is what they won’t do. He doesn’t want to hear, and, so long as we whisper, he can always pretend that he can’t. You are not the King of England for all these years, without knowing how to use hypocrisy.

The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else do it wrong without comment.

There would be a day—there must be a day—when he would come back to Gramarye with a new Round Table which had no corners, just as the world had none—a table without boundaries between the nations who would sit to feast there. The hope of making it would lie in culture. If people could be persuaded to read and write, not just to eat and make love, there was still a chance that they might come to reason.

Why can't you harness Might so that it works for Right? I know it sounds nonsense, but, I mean, you can't just say there is no such thing. The Might is there, in the bad half of people, and you can't neglect it. You can't cut it out but you might be able to direct it, if you see what I mean, so that it was useful instead of bad.

I can imagine nothing more terrifying than an Eternity filled with men who were all the same. The only thing which has made life bearable…has been the diversity of creatures on the surface of the globe.

It has to be admitted that starving nations never seem to be quite so starving that they cannot afford to have far more expensive armaments than anybody else.

Kay was older and bigger than the Wart, so that he was bound to win in the end, but he was more nervous and imaginative. He could imagine the effect of each blow that was aimed at him, and this weakened his defense. Wart was only an infuriated hurricane.

Now, in their love, which was stronger, there were the seeds of hatred and fear and confusion growing at the same time: for love can exist with hatred, each preying on the other, and this is what gives it its greatest fury.

The nice thing about the queen of Flanders' daughter, had been that she did not laugh at him. A lot of people laughed at you when you went after the Questing Beast - and never caught it - but Piggy never laughed. She seemed to understand at once how interesting it was, and made several sensible suggestions about the way to trap it. Naturally, one did not pretend to be clever or anything, but it was nice not to be laughed at. One was doing one's best.

They had a year of joy, twelve months of the strange heaven which the salmon know on beds of river shingle, under the gin-clear water. For twenty-four years they were guilty, but this first year was the only one which seemed like happiness. Looking back on it, when they were old, they did not remember that in this year it had ever rained or frozen. The four seasons were coloured like the edge of a rose petal for them. I don’t understand, said Lancelot, why you should love me. Are you sure you do? Is there some mistake about it? My Lance. But my face, he said. I am so horrible. Now I can believe that God might love the world, whatever it was like, because of himself.

Yes, that is the equality of man. Slaughter anybody who is better than you are, and then we shall be equal soon enough. All equally dead.

I have been thinking, said Arthur, about Might and Right. I don’t think things ought to be done because you are able to do them. I think they should be done because you ought to do them. After all, a penny is a penny in any case, however much Might is exerted on either side, to prove that it is or is not.

It is a pity that language is such a clumsy weapon that we cannot say that a mother was unconscious of her baby crying in the next room—with the meaning that the mother somehow, unconsciously, knew that it was crying.

Lancelot and Guenever were sitting at the solar window. An observer of the present day, who knew the Arthurian legend only from Tennyson and people of that sort, would have been startled to see that the famous lovers were past their prime. We, who have learned to base our interpretation of love on the conventional boy-and-girl romance of Romeo and Juliet, would be amazed if we could step back into the Middle Ages - when the poet of chivalry could write about Man that he had 'en ciel un dieu, par terre une deesse'. Lovers were not recruited then among the juveniles and adolescents: they were seasoned people, who knew what they were about. In those days people loved each other for their lives, without the conveniences of the divorce court and the psychiatrist. They had a God in heaven and a goddess on earth - and, since people who devote themselves to godesses must exercise some caution about the ones to whom they are devoted, they neither chose them by the passing standards of the flesh alone, nor abandoned it lightly when the bruckle thing began to fail.

Only fools want to be great.

The only cure for sadness is to learn something

They kneeled between the frescoed walls, where some important-looking saints with blue haloes were standing on tiptoe to avoid foreshortening…

You could not give up a human heart as you could give up drinking. The drink was yours, and you could give it up: but your lover’s soul was not your own: it was not at your disposal; you had a duty towards it.

I knelt down in the water of Mortoise, Jenny, where he had knocked me—and I thanked God for the adventure.

It is a pity that there are no big creatures to prey on humanity. If there were enough dragons and rocs, perhaps mankind would turn its might against them. Unfortunately man is preyed upon by microbes, which are too small to be appreciated.

Life is such unutterable hell, solely because it is sometimes beautiful. If we could only be miserable all the time, if there could be no such things as love or beauty or faith or hope, if I could be absolutely certain that my love would never be returned, how much more simple life would be. One could plod through the Siberian salt mines of existence without being bothered about happiness. Unfortunately happiness is there. There is always the chance (about eight hundred and fifty to one) that another heart will come to mine. I can't help hoping and keeping faith and loving beauty. Quite frequently I am not so miserable as it would be wise to be.

People will do the basest things on account of their so-called honor.

Author Picture
First Name
T. H.
Last Name
White, fully Terence Hanbury White
Birth Date
1906
Death Date
1964
Bio

English Author best known for Arthurian novels including "The Once and Future King"