English Literary Critic, Poet, Novelist, Playwright, Political Polemicist and Fellow at King's College, Cambridge
"Constantly and incorrigibly we forget how much harder it is to create, even with mediocre results, than to criticize."
"It is unlikely that many of us will be famous, or even remembered. But not less important than the brilliant few that lead a nation or a literature to fresh achievements, are the unknown many whose patient efforts keep the world from running backward; who guard and maintain the ancient values, even if they do not conquer new; whose inconspicuous triumph it is to pass on what they inherited from their fathers, unimpaired and undiminished, to their sons. Enough, for almost all of us, if we can hand on the torch, and not let it down; content to win the affection, if it may be, of a few who know us and to be forgotten when they in their turn have vanished. The destiny of mankind is not governed wholly by its “stars." "
"This, indeed, is one of the eternal paradoxes of both life and literature-that without passion little gets done; yet, without control of that passion, its effects are largely ill or null. "
"The only hope I can see for the future depends on a wiser and braver use of the reason, not a panic flight from it. "
"And how is clarity to be achieved? Mainly by taking trouble and by writing to serve people rather than to impress them. "
"The two World Wars came in part, like much modern literature and art, because men, whose nature is to tire of everything in turn... tired of common sense and civilization. "
"A writer should remember that about his muse there is a great deal of the Siren. He should view his mental offspring as relentlessly as a Spartan father - if it is not perfectly sound, let it be cast out."
"A man can make himself put down what comes, even if it seems nauseating nonsense; tomorrow some of it may not seem wholly nonsense at all."
"Every author's fairy godmother should provide him not only with a pen but also with a blue pencil."
"Apart from a few simple principles, the sound and rhythm of English prose seem to me matters where both writers and readers should trust not so much to rules as to their ears."
"It is strange and almost inexplicable that in the city of Athens, where the women were kept in confinement almost oriental, or serve as concubines, the theater has also produced figures like Clytemnestra and Cassandra Atossa and Antigone, Phaedra and Medea, and all other heroines who dominate the dramas of misogynist Euripides. But the paradox of this world, when in real life a respectable woman could hardly be seen alone on the street, and yet on the scene, the woman equals and surpasses man, has never been satisfactorily explained. In modern tragedy there is the same prodomain. However, a last work of Shakespeare (and also to that of Webster, but not by Marlowe or Jonson) is sufficient to prove that this preodominio, this initiative of women, persists from Rosalind to Lady Macbeth. And 'even so in Racine, if its tragedy named heroin, and which of his male characters we can contrast to Hermione and Andromache, to Berenice and Rossana, in Phaedra and Athaliah? So again with Ibsen, as a man can be compared to Solveig and Nora, Hedda and Hilda Wangel and Rebecca West?"
"At Munich we sold the Czechs for a few months grace, but the disgrace will last as long as history."
"Poetry had far better imply things than preach them directly... in the open pulpit her voice grows hoarse and fails."
"It seems to me as natural and necessary to keep notes, however brief, of one's reading, as logs of voyages or photographs of one's travels. For memory, in most of us, is a liar with galloping consumption."
"Not less important than the brilliant hue that lead a nation or a literature to the fresh achievements, are the unknown many whose patient efforts keep the world from running backward; who guard and maintain the ancient values, even if they do not conquer new; whose inconspicuous triumph it is to pass on what they inherited from their fathers, unimpaired and undiminished, to their sons. Enough, for almost all of us, if we can hand on the torch, and not let it down; content to win the affection, if it may be, of a few who know us and to be forgotten when they in their turn have vanished. The destiny of mankind is not governed wholly by its stars."
"The most emphatic place in a clause or sentence is the end. This is the climax; and, during the momentary pause that follows, that last word continues, as it were, to reverberate in the reader’s mind. It has, in fact, the last word."