English Novelist and Essayist
"It is not only species of animal that die out, but whole species of feeling. And if you are wise you will never pity the past for what it did not know, but pity yourself for what it did."
"I love making, I love doing. I love being to the full, I love everything which is not sitting and watching and copying and dead at heart."
"It's despair at the lack of feeling, of love, of reason in the world. It's despair that anyone can even contemplate the idea of dropping a bomb or ordering that it should be dropped. It's despair that so few of us care. It's despair that there's so much brutality and callousness in the world. It's despair that perfectly normal young men can be made vicious and evil because they've won a lot of money."
"I acquired expensive habits and affected manners. I got a third-class degree and a first-class illusion: that I was a poet. But nothing could have been less poetic that my seeing-through-all boredom with life in general and with making a living in particular. I was too green to know that all cynicism masks a failure to cope-- an impotence, in short; and that to despise all effort is the greatest effort of all. But I did absorb a small dose of one permanently useful thing, Oxford's greatest gift to civilized life: Socratic honesty. It showed me, very intermittently, that it is not enough to revolt against one's past. One day I was outrageously bitter among some friends about the Army; back in my own rooms later it suddenly struck me that just because I said with impunity things that would have apoplexed my dead father, I was still no less under his influence. The truth was I was not a cynic by nature, only by revolt. I had got away from what I hated, but I hadn't found where I loved, and so I pretended that there was nowhere to love. Handsomely equipped to fail, I went out into the world."
"You wish to be liked. I wish simply to be. One day you will know what that means, perhaps. And you will smile. Not against me. But with me."
"He [Hitler] did not. But millions of Germans did betray their selves. That was the tragedy. Not that one man had the courage to be evil. But that millions had not the courage to be good."
"The supposed great misery of our century is the lack of time; our sense of that, not a disinterested love of science, and certainly not wisdom, is why we devote such a huge proportion of the ingenuity and income of our societies to finding faster ways of doing things - as if the final aim of mankind was to grow closer not to a perfect humanity, but to a perfect lightning-flash."
"War is a psychosis caused by an inability to see relationships. Our relationship with our fellowmen. Our relationship with our economic and historical situation. And above all our relationship to nothingness, to death."
"Men love war because it allows them to look serious. Because it is the one thing that stops women laughing at them. "
"One of the great fallacies of our time is that the Nazis rose to power because they imposed order on chaos. Precisely the opposite is true - they were successful because they imposed chaos on order. They tore up the commandments, they denied the super-ego, what you will. They said, "You may persecute the minority, you may kill, you may torture, you may couple and breed without love." They offered humanity all its great temptations. Nothing is true, everything is permitted."
"There comes a time in each life like a point of fulcrum. At that time you must accept yourself. It is not anymore what you will become. It is what you are and always will be."
"I was too green to know that all cynicism masks a failure to cope — an impotence, in short and to despise all effort is the greatest effort of all."
"All perfect republics are perfect nonsense. The craving to risk death is our last great perversion. We come from night, we go into night. Why live in night?"
"Nobody wants to be a nobody. All our acts are partly devised to fill or to mask the emptiness we feel at the core."
"If you are wise you will never pity the past for what it did not know, but pity yourself for what it did."