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 is exciting and emancipating to believe we are one of nature's latest experiments, but what if the experiment is unsuccessful?

Some writers thrive on the contact with the commerce of success; others are corrupted by it. Perhaps, like losing one's virginity, it is not as bad (or as good) as one feared it was going to be.

There is more magic in sin if it is not committed.

It is less the business of the novelist to tell us what happened than to show how it happened.

The American Civil War was the first modern war. It is true that the Crimean War, some eight years earlier, has resemblances with the American conflict. There is the awakening of public concern for the care of casualties, a concern which had grown with medical knowledge. But the Crimean War was fought in a small area. It was fought by professional soldiers--the British commander-in-chief directed operations from his private yacht to which he returned to dine and sleep every night--and the casualties, though heavy, were than half of those suffered in America, where a million men died in the field, the hospitals and the prison camps. The Civil War involved everyone, the armies became conscript armies almost at once. The professional soldiers were put to the task of training the man in the street.

There is nothing like a coup de foudre and absorption in family responsibility for maturing the male and pulling his scattered wits together.

It is often said that in Ireland there is an excess of genius unsustained by talent; but there is talent in the tongues.

The attitude to foreigners is like the attitude to dogs: Dogs are neither human nor British, but so long as you keep them under control, give them their exercise, feed them, pat them, you will find their wild emotions are amusing, and their characters interesting. [Of London]

To be identified with the public is the divine gift of the best-sellers in popular Romance and, no doubt, in popular realism. E. M. Forster once spoke of the novelist as sending down a bucket into the unconscious; the author of She installed a suction pump. He drained the whole reservoir of the public's secret desires. Critics speak of the reader suspending unbelief; the best-seller knows better; man is a believing animal.

It is the role of the poet to look at what is happening in the world and to know that quite other things are happening.

The businessman who is a novelist is able to drop in on literature and feel no suicidal loss of esteem if the lady is not at home, and he can spend his life preparing without fuss for the awful interview.

We are used to the actions of human beings, not to their stillness.

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.

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