W. Somerset Maugham Quotes (150 Quotes)



    Oh, my dear fellow, if you want to be a gentleman you must give up being an artist. They've got nothing to do with one another. You hear of men painting pot-boilers to keep an aged mother - well, it shows they're excellent sons, but it's no excuse for bad work. They're only tradesmen. An artist would let his mother go to the workhouse.

    For men and women are not only themselves; they are also the region in which they are born, the city apartment or farm in which they learnt to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives tales they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they attended, the sports they followed, the poets they read, and the God they believed in. It is all these things that have made them what they are, and these are the things that you can't come to know by hearsay...

    He did not care if she was heartless, vicious and vulgar, stupid and grasping, he loved her. He would rather have misery with one than happiness with the other.

    On the earth, satellite of a star speeding through space, living things had arisen under the influence of conditions which were part of the planet's history; and as there had been a beginning of life upon it, so, under the influence of other conditions, there would be an end: man, no more significant than other forms of life, had come not as the climax of creation but as a physical reaction to the environment.


    I could see that Isabel listened to him with growing exasperation. Larry had no notion that he was driving a dagger in her heart and with his every detached word twisting it in the wound. But when she spoke it was with a faint smile on her lips.

    He exulted in the possession of himself once more; he realized how much of the delight of the world he had lost when he was absorbed in that madness which they called love; he had had enough of it; he did not want to be in love anymore if love was that.


    I happen to think we've set our ideal on the wrong objects; I happen to think that the greatest ideal man can set before himself is self-perfection.


    Philip got up and knelt down to say his prayers. It was a cold morning, and he shivered a little; but he had been taught by his uncle that his prayers were more acceptable to God if he said them in his nightshirt than if he waited till he was dressed. This did not surprise him, for he was beginning to realize that he was a creature of a God who appreciated the discomfort of his worshippers.

    I wish I could make you see how much fuller the life I offer you is than anything you have a conception of. I wish I could make you see how exciting the life of the spirit is and how rich in experience. It's illimitable. It's such a happy life. There's only one thing like it, when you're up in a plane by yourself, high, high, and only infinity surrounds you. You're intoxicated by the boundless space.

    He knew that all things human are transitory and therefore that it must cease one day or another. He looked forward to that day with eager longing. Love was like a parasite in his heart, nourishing a hateful existence on his life's blood; it absorbed his existence so intensely that he could take pleasure in nothing else.

    She had no mercy. He looked at her neck and thought how he would like to jab it with the knife he had for his muffin. He knew enough anatomy to make pretty certain of getting the carotid artery. And at the same time he wanted to cover her pale, thin face with kisses.


    He wondered whether he had done right. He was dissatisfied with himself and with all his circumstances. He asked himself dully whether whenever you got your way you wished afterwards that you hadn't



    His death had been as futile as his life. He died ingloriously, of a stupid disease, failing once more, even at the end, to accomplish anything.


    Nothing in the world is permanent, and we're foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we're still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy. We can none of us step into the same river twice, but the river flows on and the other river we step into is cool and refreshing too.

    I don't think that women ought to sit down at table with men. It ruins conversation and I'm sure it's very bad for them. It puts ideas in their heads, and women are never at ease with themselves when they have ideas.

    The idealist withdrew himself, because he could not suffer the jostling of the human crowd; he had not the strength to fight and so called the battle vulgar; he was vain, and since his fellows would not take him at his own estimate, consoled himself with despising his fellows.

    Our wise old church...has discovered that if you will act as if you believed belief will be given to you; if you pray with doubt, but pray with sincerity, your doubt will be dispelled; if you will surrender yourself to the beauty of that liturgy the power of which over the human spirit has been proved by the experience of the ages, peace will descend upon you.

    It is clear that men accept an immediate pain rather than an immediate pleasure, but only because they expect a greater pleasure in the future. Often the pleasure is illusory, but their error in calculation is no refutation of the rule. You are puzzled because you cannot get over the idea that pleasures are only of the sense; but, child, a man who dies for his country dies because he likes it as surely as a man eats pickled cabbage because he likes it.







    More W. Somerset Maugham Quotations (Based on Topics)


    Life - Man - Love - People - World - Youth - Beauty - Pleasure - Habit - Literature - Happiness - Mind - Praise - Woman - Soul - Art - Criticism - Characters - Wit - View All W. Somerset Maugham Quotations

    More W. Somerset Maugham Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - Of Human Bondage
    - The Razor's Edge

    Related Authors


    Richard Foreman - Plautus - John Webster - John Osborne - Graham Greene - George Ade - Francoise Sagan - Euripedes - Derek Walcott - Brendan Francis


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