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

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.

The plain of Bedegraine was a forest of pavilions. They looked like old-fashioned bathing tents, and were every color of the rainbow. ... There were heraldic devices worked or stamped on the sides ... Then there were pennons floating from the tops of the tents, and sheaves of spears leaning against them. The more sporting barons had shields or huge copper basins outside their front doors, and all you had to do was to give a thump on one of these with the butt-end of your spear, for the baron to come out like an angry bee and have a fight with you, almost before the resounding boom had died away. Sir Dinadain, who was a cheerful man, had hung a chamber-pot outside his.

They made me see that the world was beautiful if you were beautiful, and that you couldn't get unless you gave. And you had to give without wanting to get.

You fight all the time, and conquer countries and win battles, and then you say that fighting is a bad thing.

I suppose the best way to tell the story is simply to narrate it, without an effort to carry belief. The thing did not require belief. It was not a feeling of horror in one's bones, or a misty outline, or anything that needed to be given actuality by an act of faith. It was as solid as a wardrobe. You don't have to believe in wardrobes. They are there, with corners. (The Troll)

It is generally the trustful and optimistic people who can afford to retreat. The loveless and faithless ones are compelled by their pessimism to attack.

Life is too bitter already, without territories and wars and noble feuds

People write tragedies in which fatal blondes betray their paramours to ruin, in which Cressidas, Cleopatras, Delilahs, and sometimes even naughty daughters like Jessica bring their lovers or their parents to distress: but these are not the heart of tragedy. They are fripperies to the soul of man. What does it matter if Antony did fall upon his sword? It only killed him. It is the mother’s not the lover’s lust that rots the mind. It is that which condemns the tragic character to his walking death. It is Jocasta, not Juliet, who dwells in the inner chamber. It is Gertrude, not the silly Ophelia, who sends Hamlet to his madness. The heart of tragedy does not lie in stealing or taking away. Any featherpated girl can steal a heart. It lies in giving, in putting on, in adding, in smothering without the pillows. Desdemona robbed of life or honour is nothing to a Mordred, robbed of himself—his soul stolen, overlaid, wizened, while the mother-character lives in triumph, superfluously and with stifling love endowed on him, seemingly innocent of ill-intention.

The race will find that capitalists and communists modify themselves so much during the ages that they end by being indistinguishable as democrats...

They thought that they understood each other once more—but their doubt had been planted. 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.

You know that eye-to-eye recognition, when two people look deeply into each other's pupils, and burrow to the soul? It usually comes before love. I mean the clear, deep, milk-eyed recognition expressed by the poet Donne. Their eyebeams twisted and did thread their eyes upon a double string. My father recognized that the Professor was a Troll, and the Professor recognized my father's recognition. Both of them knew that the Professor had eaten his wife. - The Troll

I think I ought to have some eddication, said the Wart, I can't think of anything to do.

It is only people who are lacking, or bad, or inferior, who have to be good at things. You have always been full and perfect, so you had nothing to make up for.

Love is a trick played on us by the forces of evolution. Pleasure is the bait laid down by the same. There is only power. Power is of the individual mind but the mind's power is not enough. Power of the body decides everything in the end and only might is right.

Perhaps he does not want to be friends with you until he knows what you are like. With owls, it is never easy-come-easy-go.

The unicorn was white, with hoofs of silver and graceful horn of pearl... The glorious thing about him was his eye. There was a faint bluish furrow down each side of his nose, and this led to the eye sockets, and surrounded them in a pensive shade. The eyes, circled by this sad and beautiful darkness, were so sorrowful, lonely, gentle and nobly tragic, that they killed all other emotions except love.

They would set their course toward it, seeing it grow bigger silently and imperceptibly, a motionless growth--and then, when they were at it, when they were about to bang their noses with a shock against its seeming solid mass, the sun would dim. Wraiths of mist suddenly moving like serpents of the air would coil about them for a second. Grey damp would be around them, and the sun, a copper penny, would fade away. The wings next to their own wings would shade into vacancy, until each bird was a lonely sound in cold annihilation, a presence after uncreation. And there they would hang in chartless nothing, seemingly without speed or left or right or top or bottom, until as suddenly as ever the copper penny glowed and the serpents writhed.

You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.

I will tell you something else, King, which may be a surprise for you. It will not happen for hundreds of years, but both of us are to come back.

It is the tragedy, the Aristotelian and comprehensive tragedy, of sin coming home to roost. That is why we have to take note of the parentage of Arthur’s son Mordred, and to remember, when the time comes, that the king had slept with his own sister. He did not know he was doing so, and perhaps it may have been due to her, but it seems, in tragedy, that innocence is not enough.

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 goddesses 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.

Perhaps we all give the best of our hearts uncritically -- to those who hardly think about us in return.

The Wart’s own special one was called Cavall, and he happened to be licking Cavall’s nose - not the other way about - when Merlyn came in and found him. That will be regarded as an unsanitary habit, said Merlyn, though I cannot see it myself. After all, God made the creature’s nose just as well as he made your tongue.

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"