V. S. Pritchett, fully Sir Victor Sawdon Pritchett

V. S.
Pritchett, fully Sir Victor Sawdon Pritchett

English Novelist, Short-Story Writer and Literary Critic

Author Quotes

It's all in the art. You get no credit for living.

The Canadian spirit is cautious, observant and critical where the American is assertive.

We live by our genius for hope; we survive by our talent for dispensing with it.

A touch of science, even bogus science, gives an edge to the superstitious tale.

It's very important to feel foreign. I was born in England, but when I'm being a writer, everyone in England is foreign to me.

The detective novel is the art-for-art's-sake of our yawning Philistinism, the classic example of a specialized form of art removed from contact with the life it pretends to build on.

Well, youth is the period of assumed personalities and disguises. It is the time of the sincerely insincere.

Absolute Evil is not the kingdom of hell. The inhabitants of hell are ourselves, i.e., those who pay our painful, embarrassing, humanistic duties to society and who are compromised by our intellectually dubious commitment to virtue, which can be defined by the perpetual smear-word of French polemic: the bourgeois. (Bourgeois equals humanist.) This word has long been anathema in France where categories are part of the ruling notion of logique. The word cannot be readily matched in England or America.

Life -- how curious is that habit that makes us think it is not here, but elsewhere.

The difference between farce and humor in literature is, I suppose, that farce strums louder and louder on one string, while humor varies its note, changes its key, grows and spreads and deepens until it may indeed reach tragic depths.

Wilson was not, in the academic sense, a scholar or historian. He was an enormous reader, one of those readers who are perpetually on the scent from book to book. He was the old-style man of letters, but galvanized and with the iron of purpose in him.

All writers - all people - have their stores of private and family legends which lie like a collection of half-forgotten, often violent toys on the floor of memory.

Like many popular best-sellers, he was a very sad and solemn man who took himself too seriously and his art not seriously enough.

The nineteenth century will colonize; so, in its fantasies, did the nineteenth century soul. When Emma [Bovary] turns spendthrift and buys curtains, carpets and hangings from the draper, the information takes on something from the theme of the novel itself: the material is a symbol of the exotic, and the exotic feeds the Romantic appetite. It will lead to satiety, bankruptcy and eventually to nihilism and the final drive towards death and nothingness.

Writing enlarges the landscape of the mind.

Because of the influence of the cinema, most reports or stories of violence are so pictorial that they lack content or meaning. The camera brings them to our eyes, but does not settle them in our minds, nor in time.

London landladies are Britannias armed with helmet, shield, trident, and have faces with the word 'No' stamped like a coat of arms on them.

The only serious rival to Pepys is Boswell, but Boswell is a snail without a shell. He trails through life unhoused and exclamatory, whereas Pepys is housed and sotto voce. Boswell is confessional before anything else, whereas, though he too tells all, Pepys is not; he records for the sensual pleasure of record. Boswell adores his damned soul to the point of tears and is in shame, ramshackle pursuit of father-figures who will offer salvation. Unlike Pepys, he has above all a conceit of his own peculiar genius. Pepys has no notion of genius. Where Pepys is an eager careerist, struck by the wonder of it, Boswell has no career; he has only a carousel, and it is odd that the careerist has a more genuine sense of pleasure than the Calvinist libertine.

Yes, well I had all my serious illnesses in late middle age. And now I'm just stuck, I'm afraid.

Great artists are always far-seeing. They easily avoid the big stumbling blocks of fact. They rely on their own simplicity and vision. It is fact-fetichism that has given us those scores and scores of American books on America, the works of sociologists, anthropologists, topical problem hunters, working-parties and statisticians, which in the end leave us empty. Henry James succeeds because he rejects information. He was himself the only information he required.

Mass society destroys the things it is told are its inheritance. It is rarely possible to see the Abbey without being surrounded by thousands of tourists from all over the world. Like St. Peter's at Rome, it has been turned into a sinister sort of railway terminal. The aisles are as crowded as the pavements of Oxford Street or the alleys of a large shop, imagination is jostled, awe dispersed, and the mind never at rest. All great things, in our time, can only be seen in fragments, by fragmentary people.

The peculiar foreign superstition that the English do not like love, the evidence being that they do not talk about it.

How extraordinary it is that one feels most guilt about the sins one is unable to commit.

Most comic writers like to think they could play it straight if only their public would let them. Waugh is able to be grave without difficulty for he has always been comic for serious reasons. He has his own, almost romantic sense of propriety.

The present has its élan because it is always on the edge of the unknown and one misunderstands the past unless one remembers that this unknown was once part of its nature.

Author Picture
First Name
V. S.
Last Name
Pritchett, fully Sir Victor Sawdon Pritchett
Birth Date
Death Date

English Novelist, Short-Story Writer and Literary Critic