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

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.

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.

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