William Robertson Davies, CC, OOnt, FRSC, FRSL (August 28, 1913 – December 2, 1995) was a Canadian novelist, playwright, critic, journalist, and professor. He was one of Canada's best known and most popular authors, and one of its most distinguished "men of letters", a term Davies is variously said to have gladly accepted for himself and to have detested. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)
A pig can learn more tricks than a dog, but has too much sense to want to do it.
After all, we are human beings, and not creatures of infinite possibilities.
Art lies in understanding some part of the dark forces and bringing them under the direction of reason.
Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.
Childhood may have periods of great happiness, but it also has times that must simply be endured. Childhood at its best is a form of slavery tempered by affection.
Clarity is not a characteristic of the human spirit.
Every man makes his own summer. The season has no character of its own, unless one is a farmer with a professional concern for the weather.
Extraordinary people survive under the most terrible circumstances and they become more extraordinary because of it.
Few people can see genius in someone who has offended them.
Foolish people laugh at those readers a century ago who wept over the novels of Dickens. Is it a sign of superior intellect to read anything and everything unmoved, in a grey, unfeeling Limbo?
God, youth is such a terrible time! So much feeling and so little notion of how to handle it.
Happiness is always a by-product. It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular. But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.
I do not trust any advice which is given in bad prose.
I don't really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind.
I suppose everybody has these softheaded spells, when they think it would be fun to live in a small town. They pass quickly, of course.
If I tended toward frivolity as a boy, I am incorrigibly settled in it now.
If you are an intellectual, your best course is to relax and enjoy it.
It seems to me that most of us get all the adventure we are capable of digesting.
It would be nice to be unfailingly, perpetually, remorselessly funny, day in and day out, year in and year out until somebody murdered you, now wouldn't it?
Men of action, I notice, are rarely humble, even in situations where action of any kind is a great mistake, and masterly inaction is called for.
Modern disillusion is unlikely to last forever, and nothing rings so hollow as the angst of yesterday.
Modern man is a debtor, or he is nothing, and money becomes more and more illusory.
Motherhood and all the sentimentality that goes with Mother's Day was not congenial to the Greek mind. They were a remarkably unsentimental people; they had no particular reverence for children, nor did they regard them as a special and privileged portion of society. It would not have occurred to them to erect a vast temple to Mickey Mouse. They left that for us
Our age has robbed millions of the simplicity of ignorance, and has so far failed to lift them to the simplicity of wisdom.
People marry most happily with their own kind. The trouble lies in the fact that people usually marry at an age where they do not really know what their own kind is.
The age of an author is of no consequence; if they are any good, they were born old and wise.
The Bible takes much of its color from whoever is reading it, and it provides a text to support almost every shade of opinion, however preposterous.
The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
The life of Man is a struggle with Nature and a struggle with the Machine; when Nature and the Machine link forces against him, Man hasn't a chance.
The love that dare not speak its name has become the love that won't shut up.
The pleasures of love are for those who are hopelessly addicted to another living creature.
The simplest form of stupidity- the mumbling, nose-picking, stolid incomprehension- can be detected by anyone. But the stupidity which disguises itself as thought, and which talks so glibly and eloquently, indeed never stops talking, in every walk of life is not so easy to identify, because it marches under a formidable name, which few dare attack. It is called Popular Opinion.
The US, for historical reasons, mistrusts the concept of a welfare state, and this mistrust shows itself nakedly under present US government, which commits uncounted billions of the national wealth to what it calls defense, and is close-fisted in giving money to plans which would ameliorate the grinding poverty of a great part of its people. Quite simply, in Canada you could not get away with that.
The way to impress your boss is to look glum all the time. He may mistake this for intelligence and give you a raise.
The whole world is burdened with young fogies. Old men with ossified minds are easily dealt with. But men who look young, act young, and everlastingly harp on the fact they are young, but who nevertheless think and act with a degree of caution which would be excessive in their grandfathers, are the curses of the world.
The world does so well without me, that I am moved to wish that I could do equally well without the world.
The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to an idealized past.
There is no democracy in the world of intellect, and no democracy of taste.
There is no nonsense so gross that society will not, at some time, make a doctrine of it and defend it with every weapon of communal stupidity.
Thought and reason, unless matched by feelings, are empty, delusive things.
To be apt in quotation is a splendid and dangerous gift. Splendid, because it ornaments a man's speech with other men's jewels; dangerous, for the same reason.
Try some Symbolic Logic on your little Couch Potato when you go home, and see what happens.
We all have slumbering realms of sensibility which can be coaxed into wakefulness by books.
We mistrust anything that too strongly challenges our ideal of mediocrity.
When a man has become a great figure in society as a physician, we must not be surprised if he regards the laws of society as the laws of Nature- but we need not respect him for it.
Whoever declares a child to be 'delicate' thereby crowns and anoints a tyrant.
Women tell men things that men are not very likely to find out for themselves.
Categories: Robertson Davies