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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Quotes from Graham Greene 1904-1991



A major character has to come somehow out of the unconscious.

A murderer is regarded by the conventional world as something almost monstrous, but a murderer to himself is only an ordinary man. It is only if the murderer is a good man that he can be regarded as monstrous.

A petty reason perhaps why novelists more and more try to keep a distance from journalists is that novelists are trying to write the truth and journalists are trying to write fiction.

Against the beautiful and the clever and the successful, one can wage a pitiless war, but not against the unattractive: then the millstone weighs on the breast.

At the end of what is called the "sexual life" the only love which has lasted is the love which has everything, every disappointment, every failure and every betrayal, which has accepted even the sad fact that in the end there is no desire so deep as the simple desire for companionship.

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.

Cynicism is cheap - you can buy it at any Monoprix store - it's built into all poor-quality goods.

Failure too is a form of death.

God created a number of possibilities in case some of his prototypes failed - that is the meaning of evolution.

He entered the territory of lies without a passport for return.

He felt the loyalty we feel to unhappiness - the sense that is where we really belong.

Heresy is another word for freedom of thought.

His hilarity was like a scream from a crevasse.

I have often noticed that a bribe has that effect - it changes a relation. 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.

If one is going to write about war, self respect demands that one.

If you have abandoned one faith, do not abandon all faith. There is always an alternative to the faith we lose. Or is it the same faith under another mask?

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

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 is the story-teller's task to elicit sympathy and a measure of understanding for those who lie outside the boundaries of State approval.

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

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

My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.

People talk about the courage of condemned men walking to the place of execution: sometimes it needs as much courage to walk with any kind of bearing towards another person's habitual misery.

Perhaps the comparison is closer to the Chinese cook who leaves hardly any part of a duck unserved.

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

Reality in our century is not something to be faced.

Sentimentality - that's what we call the sentiment we don't share.

The economy of a novelist is a little like that of a careful housewife who is unwilling to throw away anything that might perhaps serve its turn.

The moment comes when a character does or says something you hadn't thought about. At that moment he's alive and you leave it to him.

The truth has never been of any real value to any human being - it is a symbol for mathematicians and philosophers to pursue. In human relations kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.

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

They are always saying God loves us. If that's love I'd rather have a bit of kindness.

Unhappiness in a child accumulates because he sees no end to the dark tunnel. The thirteen weeks of a term might just as well be thirteen years.

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

We mustn't complain too much of being comedians - it's an honorable profession. If only we could be good ones the world might gain at least a sense of style. We have failed - that's all. We are bad comedians, we aren't bad men.

When we are not sure, we are alive.

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.

You think it more difficult to turn air into wine than to turn wine into blood?

And the motive for recording these scraps from the past? It is much the same motive that has made me a novelist: a desire to reduce a chaos of experience to some sort of order, and a hungry curiosity."

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