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

Funny, said Lancelot, how the people who can’t pray say that prayers are not answered, however much the people who can pray say they are.

Aviators live by hours, not by days.

Further back, there were times when we wondered with all our souls what the world was, what love was, what we were ourselves.

Because Lancelot is stronger than others, and always stands for the Queen, it does not mean that the Queen is always in the right.

Gawaine and Gareth took turns with the fat ass, one of them whacking it while the other rode bareback.

But it seems, in tragedy, that innocence is not enough.

Gawaine made an effort to be conciliatory. He was not a conciliatory man, so the effort looked actually physical, like an earthquake.

But there was a time when each of us stood naked before the world, confronting life as a serious problem with which we were intimately and passionately concerned. There was a time when it was of vital interest to us to find out whether there was a God or not. Obviously the existence or otherwise of a future life must be of the very first importance to somebody who is going to live her present one, because her manner of living it must hinge on the problem. There was a time when Free Love versus Catholic Morality was a question of as much importance to our hot bodies as if a pistol had been clapped to our heads.

Guenever never cared for God. She was a good theologian, but that was all. The truth was that she was old and wise: she knew that Lancelot did care for God most passionately, that it was essential he should turn in that direction. So, for his sake, to make it easier for him, the great queen now renounced what she had fought for all her life, now set the example, and stood to her choice. She had stepped out of the picture.

But they woke him with words, their cruel bright weapons.

He caught a glimpse of that extraordinary faculty in man, that strange, altruistic, rare, and obstinate decency which will make writers or scientists maintain their truths at the risk of death. Eppur si muove, Galileo was to say; it moves all the same. They were to be in a position to burn him if he would go on with it, with his preposterous nonsense about the earth moving round the sun, but he was to continue with the sublime assertion because there was something which he valued more than himself. The Truth. To recognize and to acknowledge What Is. That was the thing which man could do, which his English could do, his beloved, his sleeping, his now defenseless English. They might be stupid, ferocious, unpolitical, almost hopeless. But here and there, oh so seldom, oh so rare, oh so glorious, there were those all the same who would face the rack, the executioner, and even utter extinction, in the cause of something greater than themselves. Truth, that strange thing, the jest of Pilate's. Many stupid young men had thought they were dying for it, and many would continue to die for it, perhaps for a thousand years. They did not have to be right about their truth, as Galileo was to be. It was enough that they, the few and martyred, should establish a greatness, a thing above the sum of all they ignorantly had.

But, my poor Lance, to have given up your glory and not to get anything back! When you were a sinful man you were always victorious, so why should you always be beaten when you were heavenly? And why are you always hurt by the things you love? What did you do?

He considered it ridiculous to suppose that he was not wicked, but he was grateful for their love.

Did you know that in these dark ages which were visible from Guenever’s window, there was so much decency in the world that the Catholic Church could impose a peace to all their fighting—which it called The Truce of God—and which lasted from Wednesday to Monday, as well as during the whole of Advent and Lent? Do you think that they, with their Battles, Famine, Black Death and Serfdom, were less enlightened than we are, with our Wars, Blockade, Influenza and Conscription? Even if they were foolish enough to believe that the earth was the centre of the universe, do we not ourselves believe that man is the fine flower of creation? If it takes a million years for a fish to become a reptile, has Man, in our few hundred, altered out of recognition?

He did not himself believe in the supernatural, but the thing happened, and he proposed to tell it as simply as possible. It was stupid of him to say that it shook his faith in mundane affairs, for it was just as mundane as anything else. Indeed the really frightening part about it was the horribly tangible atmosphere in which it took place. None of the outlines wavered in the least. The creature would have been less remarkable if it had been less natural. It seemed to overcome the usual laws without being immune to them. (The Troll)

Do you know, I shall be talking about God a great deal, and this is a word which offends unholy people just as much as words like ‘damn’ and so on offend the holy ones.

He did not like the grown-ups who talked down to him, but the ones who went on talking in their usual way, leaving him to leap along in their wake, jumping at meanings, guessing, clutching at known words, and chuckling at complicated jokes as they suddenly dawned. He had the glee of the porpoise then, pouring and leaping through strange seas.

A chaos of mind and body - a time for weeping at sunsets and at the glamour of moonlight - a confusion and profusion of beliefs and hopes, in God, in Truth, in Love, and in Eternity - an ability to be transported by the beauty of physical objects - a heart to ache or swell- a joy so joyful and a sorrow so sorrowful that oceans could lie between them...

Dogs, like very small children, are quite mad.

He did not look back as he rode away from Bliant Castle—and Elaine, standing on the barbican tower, did not wave. She watched him going with a still-struck concentration, like somebody who, shipwrecked, gets as much fresh water into the little boat as possible. She had a few seconds left, to make her store of Lancelot that must last her through the years.

Be kind, Helen, I am so tired of thinking;
There are so many difficult corridors of thought,
With equal iron banisters leading back again:
So many stone stairs, Helen, up which I sought
To rediscover the windy sky, and stand, blinking,
In the lost sunlight: as bright as pain,
Helen. I would give almost anything now
Even for pain.

Little child
Who was me once,
My pity on you—
And reverence.

If we could meet
Where I once strayed,
The betrayer
And the betrayed.

If we could win back
In Time's defiance,
Would you be afeared of me,
Ten-year-old Terence?

No, you would not fear.
You would love, trust,
Cherish, admire
This tedious dust.

For oh! we were all brimming once
With the sun-sparkled dew.
One heart could have loved this hulk—
The ignorant heart of you.

The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails.

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"