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Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” Quotes (13 Quotes)


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  • Lois looked edible, and you know it was tender all the way through, a kind of mystic combination of filet mignon and a Georgia peach aching for the tongue and ready to bleed gold.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")

  • Politics is a matter of choices, and a man doesn't set up the choices himself. And there is always a price to make a choice. You know that. You've made a choice, and you know how much it cost you. There is always a price.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")

  • She lifted her sewing and bit off the thread in the way women do to make your flesh crawl.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")

  • That summer we had been absolutely alone, together, even when people were around, the only inhabitants of the kind of floating island or magic carpet which being in love is.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")

  • Then after a long time Annie wasn't a little girl anymore. She was a big girl and I was so much in love with her that I lived in a dream. In the dream my heart seemed to be ready to burst, for it seemed that the whole world was inside it swelling to get out and be the world. But that summer came to an end. Time passed and nothing happened that we had felt so certain at one time would happen.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")


  • There was nothing particularly wrong with them; they were just the ordinary garden variety of human garbage.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")

  • There was only the sound of the July-flies, which seems to be inside your head like it is the grind and whirr of the springs and cogs which are you and which will not stop no matter what you say until they are good and ready.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")

  • They say you are not you except in terms of relation to other people. If there weren't any other people there wouldn't be any you because what you do, which is what you are, only has meaning in relation to other people.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")

  • Upon my return I found the call in my box. It was Anne's number, then Anne's voice on the wire, and, as always, the little leap and plunk in my heart like a frog jumping into a lily pool. With the ripples spreading round.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")

  • We wrote every day, but the letters began to seem like checks drawn on the summer's capital. There had been a lot in the bank, but it is never good business practice to live on your capital, and I had the feeling, somehow, of living on the capital and watching something dwindle.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")

  • Process as process is neither morally good nor morally bad. We may judge results but not process. The morally bad agent may perform the deed which is good. The morally good agent may perform the deed which is bad. Maybe a man has to sell his soul to get the power to do good.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")

  • And what we students of history always learn is that the human being is a very complicated contraption and that they are not good or bad but are good and bad and the good comes out of the bad and the bad out of the good, and the devil take the hindmost.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")

  • How life is strange and changeful, and the crystal is in the steel at the point of fracture, and the toad bears a jewel in its forehead, and the meaning of moments passes like the breeze that scarcely ruffles the leaf of the willow.
    (Robert Penn Warren, "All the King's Men")


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