Quotes

This is an ever-expending collection of quotes I find entertaining, or like for other reasons. The ordering is entirely random. (Literally! refresh the page if you don’t believe me!)

Well, my mother isn’t exactly a genius but she is educated. She has a PhD in literature. She writes her dinner invitations without mistakes and spends her time bombarding us with literary references (“Colombe, stop trying to act like Madame Guermantes,” or “Pumpkin, you are a regular Sanseverina”). — Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected. — G. K. Chesterton

One should never do anything that one cannot talk about after dinner. — Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

No man in Reggie Tennyson’s condition, already shaken from saying “initialling memoranda in triplicate” can utter the words “definitely inexplicable” without Nature taking its toll. A sharp twinge of pain contorted his face, and he lay for a moment with his hands pressed to his temples, trying to pull himself together. — P. G. Wodehouse, The Luck of The Bodkins

“You all look silly,” Charley said, “Without your thumbs.”
“It’s only a beginning,” inBOIL said, “All right, men. Let’s cut off our noses.”
“Hail, iDEATH,” they all shouted and cut off their noses. The one who was drunk also put out his eye. They took their noses and dropped them all over the place.
One of them put his nose in Fred’s hand. Fred took the nose and threw it in the guy’s face.
— Richard Brautigan, In Watermelon Sugar

House: “[I'm] Dr. House, I don’t think we’ve met”
Hospital inspector: “Dr. Jamie Convay, I’ve heard your name”
House: “Most people have… It’s also a noun”
— From “House”

When your true enemies are too strong, you have to choose weaker enemies. — Umberto Eco, The Name Of The Rose

“Politics,” she says. “A toy for little rich kids that they won’t let anyone else play with.” — Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

He had the good sense to die with commendable promptitude. — Agatha Christie, The Mystery of the Blue Train

William laughed only when he said serious things, and remained very serious when he was presumably joking. — Umberto Eco, The Name Of The Rose

Thank the heavens above I’m an educated man and know nothing whatever upon any subject at all. — Agatha Christie, The Seven Dials Mystery

All that day she felt as if she were acting in a theatre with better actors than herself, and that her bad performance was spoiling the whole affair. — Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. — Umberto Eco, The Name Of The Rose

I don’t know if you know it, J.B., but you’re the sort of fellow who causes hundreds to fall under suspicion when he’s found stabbed in his library with a paper-knife of Oriental design. — P. G. Wodehouse, Joss Weatherby to J.B. Duff in “Quick Service”

Signs of an overdose include a reduced desire to breathe, purplish lips and ending up being buried in a cemetery in a wooden box called a coffin. — Tom Reynolds, More Blood, More Sweat and another Cup of Tea

I take it you know that Orange number at the Palace? It goes:

Oh, won’t you something something oranges,
My something oranges,
My something oranges;
Oh, won’t you something something something I forget,
Something something something tumty tumty yet:
Oh –

or words to that effect. It’s a dashed clever lyric, and the tune’s good, too.
— P. G. Wodehouse, Bertie Wooster in “The Inimitable Jeeves”

Solitude is a condition best enjoyed in company. — Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries

“Good morning,” returned the reverend man, and from his accent Balfour knew at once that he was Irish; he relaxed, and allowed himself to be rude. — Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries

If a shepherd errs, he must be isolated from other shepherds, but woe unto us if the sheep begin to distrust shepherds. — Umberto Eco, The Name Of The Rose

An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them. — Stephen Fry, Adrian Healey in “The Liar”

A Unicorn and a fat, full-grown Donkey indoors always make a room feel rather crowded. — C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle

[I'd like to find my father], even though education and all sorts of horrible things are going to happen to me. — C. S. Lewis, Cor on the potential consequences of finding his father in “The Horse and His Boy”

How it was I don’t understand, but we always seemed to be getting, with the best of motives, in one another’s way. When I wanted to go up-stairs, there was my wife coming down; or when my wife wanted to go down, there was I coming up. There is married life, according to my experience of it. — Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone

A sleeping man is selfishly regardless of the disquiet he brings on his fellow-creatures. — J. A. Lees and W. J. Clutterbuck, Three in Norway by Two of Them

Music, in the precision of its form and the mathematical tyranny of its laws, escapes into an eternity of abstraction and an absurd sublime that is everywhere and nowhere at once. — Stephen Fry

Please don’t just invent a mail address for yourself and use it: it won’t work and your mail will not get delivered. — Information from the University of Edinburgh regarding use of the university e-mail account

“Can a man still be brave if he is afraid?”
“That is the only time a man can be brave.”
— George R. R. Martin, Ned Stark to Bran in “A Game of Thrones”

The trouble about obeying orders is, it becomes a habit. And then everything depends on who’s giving the orders. — Terry Pratchett, The Carpet People

The beauty of military life, No questions, only orders and flight. Only flight. What a beautiful sight in his wild blue dream, the eternal child leafs through his war magazines. And his kind Uncle Sam feeds ten trillion in change into the total entertainment combat video game. (…) See the children bleed. It’ll look great on the TV. — Roger Waters, From “Late Home Tonight” on the album “Amused to Death”

“Don’t you know what the police are for, Stevie? They are there so that them as have nothing shouldn’t take anything away from them who have.” — Joseph Conrad, Mrs Verloc in “The Secret Agent”

The politicians are preachers, and the preachers are politicians. — Jim Thompson, Lou Ford on civilisation in “The Killer Inside Me”

Modern intelligence won’t accept anything on authority. But it will accept anything without authority. — G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Knew Too Much

Years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarrelling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently. — C. S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t there more happy people in the world? — Stephen Fry

Journalism largely consists of saying ‘Lord Jones is Dead’ to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive. — G. K. Chesterton

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go. — William Shakespeare, King Claudius in “Hamlet”

“Take a drop more grog, Mr. Franklin, and you’ll get over the weakness of believing in facts!” — Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone

The only purpose of cats is that they constitute mobile decorative objects, a concept which I find intellectually interesting, but unfortunately our cats have such drooping bellies that this does not apply to them. — Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

There are two ends to a stick, and there’s more than one way of working. If it’s for human beings – make sure and do it properly. If it’s for the big man – just make it look good. Any other way and we’d all have turned our toes up long ago, that’s for sure. — Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

The very nature of a Mickey Mouse makes it easy for a seeker after it to detect whether it is or is not present in any given spot. It is not like a Maharajah’s ruby or a secret treaty, which might get shoved away under a camisole and escape the eye. A Mickey Mouse has bulk. If you open a drawer and do not find it immediately, it is not in that drawer. — P. G. Wodehouse, Hints for locating a plush Mickey Mouse. From “The Luck of The Bodkins”

“My worry is that the next war will be so big, nowhere with a decent restaurant will be left untouched.” — David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas