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

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.

I am under the spell of language, which has ruled me since I was 10.

Now, practically all reviewers have academic aspirations. The people from the universities are used to a captive audience, but the literary journalist has to please his audience.

The principle of procrastinated rape is said to be the ruling one in all the great bestsellers.

I found people were telling stories to themselves without knowing it. It seemed to me that people were living a sort of small sermon that they believed in, but at the same time it was a fairy tale. Selfish desires, along with one or two highly suspect elevated thoughts. They secretly regard themselves as works of art, valuable in themselves.

On one plane, the very great writers and the popular romancers of the lower order always meet. They use all of themselves, helplessly, unselectively. They are above the primness and good taste of declining to give themselves away.

The profoundly humorous writers are humorous because they are responsive to the hopeless, uncouth concatenations of life.

I shall never be as old as I was between 20 and 30.

On short stories: something glimpsed from the corner of the eye, in passing.

The secret of happiness is to find a congenial monotony.

In her businesslike way she thought that her life had begun when she was a very young woman and she really did look lovely: you knew it wouldn't last and you packed all you could into it — but men were different. A man like B — like Alfie, too — never got beyond the time when they were boys and, damn them, it kept them young.

One recalls how much the creative impulse of the best-sellers depends upon self-pity. It is an emotion of great dramatic potential.

The State, that craving rookery of committees and subcommittees.

In our family, as far as we are concerned, we were born and what happened before that is myth.

Prep school, public school, university: these now tedious influences standardize English autobiography, giving the educated Englishman the sad if fascinating appearance of a stuffed bird of sly and beady eye in some old seaside museum. The fixation on school has become a class trait. It manifests itself as a mixture of incurious piety and parlour game.

The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the older man who will not laugh is a fool.

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