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View Quote If we can't stamp out literature in the country, we can at least stop its being brought in from outside. Vile Bodies (1930)
View Quote All this fuss about sleeping together. For physical pleasure I'd sooner go to my dentist any day. Vile Bodies (1930)
View Quote "We, Seth, Emperor of Azania, Chief of Chiefs of Sakuyu, Lord of Wanda and Tyrant of the Seas, Bachelor of the Arts of Oxford University, being in this the twenty-fourth year of our life, summoned by the wisdom of Almighty God and the unanimous voice of our people to the throne of our ancestors, do hereby proclaim. . ." Seth paused in his dictation and gazed out across the harbour where in the fresh breeze of early morning the last dhow was setting sail for the open sea. "Rats," he said; "stinking curs. They are all running away." Black Mischief (1932) First lines
View Quote "Was anyone hurt?"
"No one I am thankful to say," said Mrs. Beaver, "except two housemaids who lost their heads and jumped through a glass roof into the paved court." A Handful of Dust (1934) First lines
View Quote The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a Heaven that it shows itself cloddish. Put Out More Flags (1942) Ch. 1 : Autumn, § 7
View Quote So the two of them went to London by the early morning train. 'Let's surprise her,' said Nigel, but Cedric telephoned first, wryly remembering the story of the pedantic adulterer - 'My dear, it is I who am surprised; you are astounded.' Put Out More Flags (1942) Ch 3 : Spring
View Quote No.3 Commando was very anxious to be chums with Lord Glasgow, so they offered to blow up an old tree stump for him and he was very grateful and said don't spoil the plantation of young trees near it because that is the apple of my eye and they said no of course not we can blow a tree down so it falls on a sixpence and Lord Glasgow said goodness you are clever and he asked them all to luncheon for the great explosion.
So Col. Durnford-Slater DSO said to his subaltern, have you put enough explosive in the tree?. Yes, sir, 75lbs. Is that enough? Yes sir I worked it out by mathematics it is exactly right. Well better put a bit more. Very good sir.
And when Col. D Slater DSO had had his port he sent for the subaltern and said subaltern better put a bit more explosive in that tree. I don't want to disappoint Lord Glasgow. Very good sir.
Then they all went out to see the explosion and Col. DS DSO said you will see that tree fall flat at just the angle where it will hurt no young trees and Lord Glasgow said goodness you are clever.
So soon they lit the fuse and waited for the explosion and presently the tree, instead of falling quietly sideways, rose 50 feet into the air taking with it ½ acre of soil and the whole young plantation.
And the subaltern said Sir, I made a mistake, it should have been 7½ not 75. Lord Glasgow was so upset he walked in dead silence back to his castle and when they came to the turn of the drive in sight of his castle what should they find but that every pane of glass in the building was broken.
So Lord Glasgow gave a little cry and ran to hide his emotions in the lavatory and there when he pulled the plug the entire ceiling, loosened by the explosion, fell on his head.
This is quite true. Letter to his wife (31 May 1942)
View Quote His courtesy was somewhat extravagant. He would write and thank people who wrote to thank him for wedding presents and when he encountered anyone as punctilious as himself the correspondence ended only with death. As quoted in LIFE magazine (8 April 1946)
View Quote All day the head had been barely supportable but at evening a breeze arose in the West, blowing from the heart of the setting sun and from the ocean, which lay unseen, unheard behind the scrubby foothills. It shook the rusty fringes of palm-leaf and swelled the dry sounds of summer, the frog-voices, the grating cicadas, and the ever present pulse of music from the neighbouring native huts. The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy (1948) First lines
View Quote In the dying world I come from, quotation is a national vice. No one would think of making an after-dinner speech without the help of poetry. It used to be the classics, now it's lyric verse. The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy (1948) Ch. 9
View Quote Don't give your opinions about Art and the Purpose of Life. They are of little interest and, anyway, you can't express them. Don't analyze yourself. Give the relevant facts and let your readers make their own judgments. Stick to your story. It is not the most important subject in history but it is one about which you are uniquely qualified to speak. Reviewing World within World, the autobiography of Stephen Spender, in The Tablet (5 May 1951)
View Quote Don't hold your parents up to contempt. After all, you are their son, and it is just possible that you may take after them. The Tablet (9 May 1951)
View Quote It may happen in the next hundred years that the English novelists of the present day will come to be valued as we now value the artists and craftsmen of the late eighteenth century. The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957) First lines
View Quote He had no wish to obliterate anything he had written, but he would dearly have liked to revise it, envying painters, who are allowed to return to the same theme time and time again, clarifying and enriching until they have done all they can with it. A novelist is condemned to provide a succession of novelties, new names for characters, new incidents for his plots, new scenery; but; Mr Pinfold maintained, most men harbour the germs of one or two books only; all else is professional trickery of which the most daemonic of the masters - Dickens and Balzac even - were flagrantly guilty. The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957), page 122
View Quote A typical triumph of modern science to find the only part of Randolph that was not malignant and remove it." Diary entry (March 1964), after hearing that doctors had removed a benign tumor from Randolph Churchill.
View Quote Only when one has lost all curiosity about the future has one reached the age to write an autobiography. A Little Learning (1964) First lines
View Quote I put the words down and push them a bit. As quoted in his obituary in The New York Times (11 April 1966)
View Quote Aesthetic value is often the by-product of the artist striving to do something else. Diaries of Evelyn Waugh (1976)
View Quote Punctuality is the virtue of the bored. Diaries of Evelyn Waugh (1976)
View Quote You never find an Englishman among the underdogs — except in England, of course. As quoted in Forbes magazine (2 April 2001), p. 172.
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