Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Arnold Bennett, fully Enoch Thomas Arnold Bennett

English Novelist, Playwright, Critic and Essayist

"Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts."

"Having once decided to achieve a certain task, achieve it at all costs of tedium and distaste. The gain in self-confidence of having accomplished a tiresome labor is immense."

"Time is the inexplicable raw material of everything. With it, all is possible, without it, nothing. The supply of time is truly a daily miracle, an affair genuinely astonishing when one examines it."

"We never shall have any more time we have, and we have always had, all the time there is."

"You have to live on twenty-four hours of daily time. Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, content, respect, and the evolution of your immortal soul. Its right use, its most effective use, is a matter of the highest urgency and of the most thrilling actuality. All depends on that. Your happiness - the elusive prize that you are all clutching for, my friends! - depends on that!"

"You wake up in the morning, and your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life! It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions. No one can take it from you. And no one receives either more or less than you receive."

"The ideas of the average decently informed person are so warped, and of perspective, and ignorant, and entirely perverse and wrong and crude, on nearly every moral subject, that the task of discussing anything with him seriously and fully and to the end is simply appalling."

"The parents exist to teach the child, but also they must learn what the child has to teach them; and the child has a very great deal to teach them."

"No mind, however loving, could bear to see plainly into all the recess of another mind."

"Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission."

"The great advantage of being in a rut is that when one is in a rut, one knows exactly where one is."

"A cause may be inconvenient, but it's magnificent. It's like champagne or high heels, and one must be prepared to suffer for it."

"A failure or so, in itself, would not matter, if it did not incur a loss of self-esteem and of self-confidence. But just as nothing succeeds like success, so nothing fails like failure. Most people who are ruined are ruined by attempting too much. Therefore, in setting out on the immense enterprise of living fully and comfortably within the narrow limits of twenty-four hours a day, let us avoid at any cost the risk of an early failure. I will not agree that, in this business at any rate, a glorious failure is better than a petty success. I am all for the petty success. A glorious failure leads to nothing; a petty success may lead to a success that is not petty."

"A first-rate organizer is never in a hurry. He is never late. He always keeps up his sleeve a margin for the unexpected."

"A good novel rushes you forward like a skiff down a stream, and you arrive at the end, perhaps breathless, but unexhausted"

"A life in which conduct does not fairly well accord with principles is a silly life; and that conduct can only be made to accord with principles by means of daily examination, reflection, and resolution."

"A sense of the value of time... is an essential preliminary to efficient work; it is the only method of avoiding hurry."

"A man of sixty has spent twenty years in bed and over three years in eating."

"All wrong doing is done in the sincere belief that it is the best thing to do."

"Always behave as if nothing had happened, no matter what has happened."

"And since nothing whatever happens to us outside our own brain; since nothing hurts us or gives us pleasure except within the brain, the supreme importance of being able to control what goes on in that mysterious brain is patent."

"And the occasional deliberate breaking of one's programme will not help to mend matters. The evil springs not from persisting without elasticity in what one has attempted, but from originally attempting too much, from filling one's programme till it runs over. The only cure is to reconstitute the programme, and to attempt less."

"Ardor in well-doing is a misleading and a treacherous thing. It cries out loudly for employment; you can't satisfy it at first; it wants more and more; it is eager to move mountains and divert the course of rivers. It isn't content till it perspires. And then, too often, when it feels the perspiration on its brow, it wearies all of a sudden and dies, without even putting itself to the trouble of saying, I've had enough of this."

"At moments we are all artists."

"Because her instinct has told her, or because she has been reliably informed, the faded virgin knows that the supreme joys are not for her; she knows by a process of the intellect; but she can feel her deprivation no more than the young mother can feel the hardship of the virgin's lot."

"Being a husband is a whole time job. That is why so many husbands fail. They cannot give their entire attention to it."

"All I urge is that a life in which conduct does not fairly well accord with principles is a silly life; and that conduct can only be made to accord with principles by means of daily examination, reflection, and resolution."

"A true friend is one who likes you despite your achievements."

"Beware of undertaking too much at the start. Be content with quite a little. Allow for accidents. Allow for human nature, especially your own."

"But though you have the wealth of a cloak-room attendant at the Carlton Hotel, you cannot buy yourself a minute more time than I have, or the cat by the fire has."

"Concentrate on something useful. Having decided to achieve a task, achieve it at all costs."

"dazzling truth that you never will have more time, since you already have all the time there is?you"

"Does there, I wonder, exist a being who has read all, or approximately all, that the person of average culture is supposed to have read, and that not to have read is a social sin? If such a being does exist, surely he is an old, a very old man."

"During a long and varied career as a bachelor, I have noticed that marriage is the death of politeness between a man and a woman."

"Essential characteristic of the really great novelist: a Christ-like, all-embracing compassion."

"Every scene, even the commonest, is wonderful, if only one can detach oneself, casting off all memory of use and custom, and behold it (as it were) for the first time; in its right, authentic colors; without making comparisons. Cherish and burnish this faculty of seeing crudely, simply, artlessly, ignorantly; of seeing like a baby or a lunatic, who lives each moment by itself and tarnishes by the present no remembrance of the past."

"Falsehood often lurks upon the tongue of him, who, by self-praise, seeks to enhance his value in the eyes of others."

"Far from the madding crowd is a mistake on a honeymoon.... Solitude! Wherever you are, if you're on a honeymoon, you'll get quite as much solitude as is good for you every twenty-four hours. Constant change and distraction -- that's what wants arranging for. Solitude will arrange itself."

"For remark! No one can take it from you. It is unstealable. And no one receives either more or less than you receive. Talk about an ideal democracy! In the realm of time there is no aristocracy of wealth, and no aristocracy of intellect. Genius is never rewarded by even an extra hour a day. And there is no punishment. Waste your infinitely precious commodity as much as you will, and the supply will never be withheld from you. No mysterious power will say:?This man is a fool, if not a knave. He does not deserve time; he shall"

"France is the land where dalliance is so passionately understood."

"Good clothes, when put to the test, survive a change in fortune, as a Roman arch survives the luxury of departed empire."

"Good taste is better than bad taste, but bad taste is better than no taste."

"Great wealth may be to its owner a blessing or a curse. Alas! I fear it is too often the latter. It hardens the heart, blunts the finer susceptibilities, and transforms into a fiend what under more favourable circumstances might have been a human being."

"Habits are the very dickens to change!"

"happiness does not spring from the procuring of physical or mental pleasure, but from the development of reason and the adjustment of conduct to principles."

"Happiness includes chiefly the idea of satisfaction after full honest effort. No one can possibly be satisfied and no one can be happy who feels that in some paramount affairs he failed to take up the challenge of life."

"Humanity walks ever on a thin crust over terrific abysses."

"I do want an expensive honeymoon. Not because I'm extravagant, but because a honeymoon is a solemn, important thing ... a symbol. And it ought to be done -- well, adequately."

"I don't read my reviews, I measure them."

"I think it rather fine, this necessity for the tense bracing of the will before anything worth doing can be done. I rather like it myself. I feel it is to be the chief thing that differentiates me from the cat by the fire."