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Quotes of the day: Graham Greene

Published Wednesday, October 01, 2014 @ 7:26 PM EDT
Oct 01 2014

Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH (October 2, 1904 - April 3, 1991) was an English novelist and author regarded as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Combining literary acclaim with widespread popularity, Greene had acquired a reputation early in his own lifetime as a great writer, both of serious Catholic novels and of thrillers (or "entertainments," as he termed them); however, even though shortlisted in 1967, he was never awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Through 67 years of writings which included over 25 novels, he explored the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world through a Catholic perspective. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment from which to look back or from which to look ahead.

As long as one suffers one lives.

Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector. It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully.

Childhood was the germ of all mistrust. You were cruelly joked upon and then you cruelly joked. You lost the remembrance of pain through inflicting it.

Death will come in any case, and there is a long afterwards if the priests are right and nothing to fear if they are wrong.

Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim.

Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought.

However great a man's fear of life, suicide remains the courageous act, the clear-headed act of a mathematician.

I had very good dentures once. Some magnificent gold work. It's the only form of jewelry a man can wear that women fully appreciate.

In a mad world it always seems simpler to obey.

In human relationships, kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace- and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.

Innocence always calls mutely for protection when we would be so much wiser to guard ourselves against it: innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.

It is impossible to go through life without trust: that is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.

It's a good world if you don't weaken.

It's typical of Mexico, of the whole human race perhaps- violence in favor of an ideal and then the ideal lost but the violence just going on.

Media is a word that has come to mean bad journalism.

Morality comes with the sad wisdom of age, when the sense of curiosity has withered.

Most things disappoint till you look deeper.

No human being can really understand another, and no one can arrange another's happiness.

Our worst enemies here are not the ignorant and the simple, however cruel; our worst enemies are the intelligent and corrupt.

People don't like reality, they don't like common sense, until age forces it on them.

People who like quotations love meaningless generalizations.

Point me out the happy man and I will point you out either extreme egotism, evil- or else an absolute ignorance.

Reality in our century is not something to be faced.

Sometimes I see myself reflected too closely in other men for comfort, and then I have an enormous wish to believe in the saints, in heroic virtue.

Sooner or later... one has to take sides- if one is to remain human.

Success is more dangerous than failure, the ripples break over a wider coastline.

Suffering is not increased by numbers; one body can contain all the suffering the world can feel.

The hurt is in the act of possession; we are too small in mind and body to possess another person without pride or to be possessed without humiliation.

The man who offers a bribe gives away a little of his own importance; the bribe once accepted, he becomes the inferior, like a man who has paid for a woman.

The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belong to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity.

The trouble is I don't believe my unbelief.

The world is not black and white. More like black and grey.

There is a point of no return, unremarked at the time, in most lives.

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.

There's a virtue in slowness, which we have lost.

To me comfort is like the wrong memory at the wrong place or time: if one is lonely one prefers discomfort.

Unfortunately the innocent are always involved in any conflict. Always, everywhere, there is some voice crying from a tower.

We are all of us resigned to death; it's life we aren't resigned to.

We forget very easily what gives us pain.

We never get accustomed to being less important to other people than they are to us.

You can't blame the innocent, they are always guiltless. All you can do is control them or eliminate them. Innocence is a kind of insanity.


(Also born on October 2: Mahatma Gandhi and Groucho Marx.)

Categories: Graham Greene, Quotes of the day


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