W. Somerset Maugham, fully William Somerset Maugham

W. Somerset
Maugham, fully William Somerset Maugham
1874
1965

English Playwright, Novelist and Short Story Writer

Author Quotes

The value of art is not beauty, but right action.

There are men whose sense of humor is so ill developed that they still bear a grudge against Copernicus because he dethroned them from the central position in the universe. They feel it a personal affront that they can no longer consider themselves the pivot upon which turns the whole of created things.

There is only one thing about which I am certain, and that is that there is very little about which one can be certain.

Things don't get any easier by putting them off.

To regard the imagination as metaphysics is to think of it as part of life, and to think of it as part of life is to realize the extent of artifice. We live in the mind.

We are not the same persons this year as last ; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.

We're all so dreadfully tired of being goddesses. For centuries foolish men have set us up on a pedestal and vowed they were unworthy to touch the hem of our garments. And it is so dull.

When I came back from France they all wanted me to go to college. I couldn't. After what I'd been through I felt I couldn't go back to school. I learnt nothing at my prep school anyway. I felt I couldn't enter into a freshman's life. They wouldn't have liked me. I didn't want to act a part I didn't feel. And I didn't think the instructors would teach me the sort of things I wanted to know.

Why did you look at the sunset?' Philip answered with his mouth full: Because I was happy.

Wounded vanity can make a woman more vindictive than a lioness robbed of her cubs.

You know what the critics are. If you tell the truth they only say you're cynical and it does an author no good to get a reputation for cynicism.

You think pleasure is only of the senses; the wretched slaves who manufactured your morality despised a satisfaction which they had small means of enjoying.

The well-dressed man is he whose clothes you never notice.

There are psychologists who think that consciousness accompanies brain processes and is determined by them but doesn't itself exert any influence on them. Something like the reflection of a tree in water; it couldn't exist without the tree, but it doesn't in any way affect he tree. I think it's all stuff and nonsense to say that there can be love without passion; when people say love can endure after passion is dead they're talking of something else, affection, kindliness, community of taste and interest, and habit . . . Of course there can be desire without love. Desire isn't passion. Desire is the natural consequence of the sexual instinct . . . That's why women are foolish to make a song and dance if their husbands have an occasional flutter when the time and place are propitious . . . what is sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose . . . Unless love is passion, it's not love, but something else; and passion thrives not on satisfaction but impediment . . . When passion seizes the heart it invents reasons that seem not only plausible but conclusive to prove that the world is well lost for love. It convinces you that honor is well sacrificed and that shame is a cheap price to pay. Passion is destructive . . . and if it doesn't destroy it dies. It may be then that one is faced with the desolation of knowing that one has wasted the years of one's life, that one's brought disgrace upon oneself, endured the frightful pang of jealousy, swallowed every bitter mortification, that one's expended all one's tenderness, poured out all the riches of one's soul on a poor drab, a fool, a peg on which one hung one's dreams, who wasn't worth a stick of chewing gum.

There is only one way to win hearts and that is to make oneself like unto those of whom one would be loved.

Things were easier for the old novelists who saw people all of a piece. Speaking generally, their heroes were good through and through, their villains wholly bad.

To the acute observer no one can produce the most casual work without disclosing the innermost secrets of his soul.

We can none of us step into the same river twice, but the river flows on and the other river we step into is cool and refreshing, too

What do we any of us have but our illusions? And what do we ask of others but that we be allowed to keep them?

When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has meaning for me, and it becomes part of me; I?ve got out of the book all that?s any use to me, and I can?t get anything more if I read it a dozen times. You see, it seems to me, one?s like a closed bud, and most of what one reads and does has no effect at all; but there are certain things that have a peculiar significance for one, and they open a petal; and the petals open one by one; and at last the flower is there.

Why don?t you give up drinking? Because I don?t choose. It doesn?t matter what a man does if he?s ready to take the consequences. Well, I?m ready to take the consequences. You talk glibly of giving up drinking, but it?s the only thing I?ve got left now. What do you think life would be to me without it? Can you understand the happiness I get out of my absinthe? I yearn for it; and when I drink it I savour every drop, and afterwards I feel my soul swimming in ineffable happiness. It disgusts you. You are a puritan and in your heart you despise sensual pleasures. Sensual pleasures are the most violent and the most exquisite. I am a man blessed with vivid senses, and I have indulged them with all my soul. I have to pay the penalty now, and I am ready to pay.

Writing is a whole-time job: no professional writer can afford only to write when he feels like it.

You know, any man can get any woman he wants if he tries hard enough, there's nothing in that, but once he's got her, only a man who thinks the world of women can get rid of her without humiliating her.

You will find as you grow older that the first thing needful to make the world a tolerable place to live in is to recognize the inevitable selfishness of humanity. You demand unselfishness from others, which is a preposterous claim that they should sacrifice their desires to yours. Why should they? When you are reconciled to the fact that each is for himself in the world you will ask less from your fellows. They will not disappoint you, and you will look upon them more charitably. Men seek but one thing in life -- their pleasure.

The Riviera isn't only a sunny place for shady people.

Author Picture
First Name
W. Somerset
Last Name
Maugham, fully William Somerset Maugham
Birth Date
1874
Death Date
1965
Bio

English Playwright, Novelist and Short Story Writer