W. Somerset Maugham

(William Somerset Maugham)

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
… there are two good things in life, freedom of thought and freedom of action. Freedom & Liberty
A dictator ... must fool all the people all the time and there's only one way to do that, he must also fool himself. Legislating & Legislative Process ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
Hypocrisy is the most difficult and nerve-racking vice that any man can pursue; it needs an unceasing vigilance and a rare detachment of spirit. It cannot, like adultery or gluttony, be practiced at spare moments; it is a whole-time job. Human Nature
I don't think of the past. The only thing that matters is the everlasting present. History
If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will loose its freedom. Freedom & Liberty
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one's dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. Independence ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
It is very unfair to expect a politician to live in private up to the statements he makes in public. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Man has always sacrificed truth to his vanity, comfort and advantage. Human Nature
Passion is destructive; if it does not destroy, it dies. Miscellaneous
People ask . . . for criticism, but they only want praise. Miscellaneous
Sometimes people carry to such perfection the mask they have assumed that in due course they actually become the person they seem. Human Nature
There is no explanation for evil. It must be looked upon as a necessary part of the order of the universe. To ignore it is childish, to bewail it senseless. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
There is only one thing about which I am certain, and that is that there is very little about which one can be certain. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
There will always be men who from malice or for money will betray their kith and kin and there will always be men who, from love of adventure or a sense of duty, will risk a shameful death to secure information valuable to their country. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
Through the history of the world there have always been exploiters and exploited. There always will be ... because the great mass of men are made by nature to be slaves, they are unfit to control themselves, and for their own good need masters. Equality & Equal Opportunity ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Tolerance is only another name for indifference. Human Nature
What does democracy come down to? The persuasive power of slogans invented by wily self-seeking politicians. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
You can't learn too soon that the most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
A man marries to have a home, but also because he doesn't want to be bothered with sex and all that sort of thing.
An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.
Any nation that thinks more of its ease and comfort than its freedom will soon lose its freedom; and the ironical thing about it is that it will lose its ease and comfort too. Freedom & Liberty
Anyone can tell the truth, but only very few of us can make epigrams. Truth
At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely. New Years
Beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger. There is really nothing to be said about it. It is like the perfume of a rose: you can smell it and that is all.
Considering how foolishly people act and how pleasantly they prattle, perhaps it would be better for the world if they talked more and did less.
Death doesn't affect the living because it has not happened yet. Death doesn't concern the dead because they have ceased to exist. Death
Death is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it. Death
Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.
Few misfortunes can befall a boy which bring worse consequence than to have a really affectionate mother.
Habits in writing as in life are only useful if they are broken as soon as they cease to be advantageous. Life
Have common sense and stick to the point.
I can imagine no more comfortable frame of mind for the conduct of life than a humorous resignation. Life ;Humor
I made up my mind long ago that life was too short to do anything for myself that I could pay others to do for me. Life
I would sooner read a time-table or a catalogue than nothing at all. They are much more entertaining than half the novels that are written.
If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom, and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too. Freedom & Liberty ;Money, Coins & Minting
If you don't change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news? Life
If you want to eat well in England, eat three breakfasts. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
I'll give you my opinion of the human race in a nutshell... their heart's in the right place, but their head is a thoroughly inefficient organ.
Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.
Impropriety is the soul of wit. Humor
In Hollywood, the women are all peaches. It makes one long for an apple occasionally. Women
In the country the darkness of night is friendly and familiar, but in a city, with its blaze of lights, it is unnatural, hostile and menacing. It is like a monstrous vulture that hovers, biding its time. Time
It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it.
It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive. Happiness & Unhappiness
It is salutary to train oneself to be no more affected by censure than by praise.
It is unsafe to take your reader for more of a fool than he is.
It is well known that Beauty does not look with a good grace on the timid advances of Humour.
It seems that the creative faculty and the critical faculty cannot exist together in their highest perfection.
It was such a lovely day I thought it a pity to get up.
It wasn't until late in life that I discovered how easy it is to say, 'I don't know.' Life
It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it. Life ;Humor
It's no good trying to keep up old friendships. It's painful for both sides. The fact is, one grows out of people, and the only thing is to face it.
It's very hard to be a gentleman and a writer.
Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.
Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind.
Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Marriage is a very good thing, but I think it's a mistake to make a habit out of it. Families, Children & Parenting
Men have an extraordinarily erroneous opinion of their position in nature; and the error is ineradicable. Nature
Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five. Money, Coins & Minting
Money is the string with which a sardonic destiny directs the motions of its puppets. Money, Coins & Minting
My own belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror. Life
No egoism is so insufferable as that of the Christian with regard to his soul.
Old age has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less than the pleasures of youth.
Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long.
Only a mediocre person is always at his best.
People ask for criticism, but they only want praise.
Perfection has one grave defect: it is apt to be dull.
Perfection is a trifle dull. It is not the least of life's ironies that this, which we all aim at, is better not quite achieved. Life
Sentimentality is the only sentiment that rubs you the wrong way.
The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.
The artist produces for the liberation of his soul. It is his nature to create as it is the nature of water to run down the hill. Nature ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant and kind. Success
The crown of literature is poetry. Literature, Writers & Writing
The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.
The great American novel has not only already been written, it has already been rejected.
The love that lasts longest is the love that is never returned. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
The most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency.
The trouble with young writers is that they are all in their sixties.
The world in general doesn't know what to make of originality; it is startled out of its comfortable habits of thought, and its first reaction is one of anger.
The world is quickly bored by the recital of misfortune, and willing avoids the sight of distress.
The writer is more concerned to know than to judge.
The writer of prose can only step aside when the poet passes.
There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
There are two good things in life - freedom of thought and freedom of action. Life ;Freedom & Liberty
Things were easier for the old novelists who saw people all of a piece. Speaking generally, their heroes were good through and through, their villains wholly bad.
Tolerance is another word for indifference.
Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.
We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
We have long passed the Victorian Era when asterisks were followed after a certain interval by a baby.
We know our friends by their defects rather than by their merits.
We learn resignation not by our own suffering, but by the suffering of others.
What has influenced my life more than any other single thing has been my stammer. Had I not stammered I would probably... have gone to Cambridge as my brothers did, perhaps have become a don and every now and then published a dreary book about French literature. Life
What makes old age hard to bear is not the failing of one's faculties, mental and physical, but the burden of one's memories.
When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for me, and it becomes part of me.
When you are young you take the kindness people show you as your right.
When you choose your friends, don't be short-changed by choosing personality over character. Friendship
Writing is the supreme solace. Communication & Communications
You are not angry with people when you laugh at them. Humor teaches tolerance. Humor
You can do anything in this world if you are prepared to take the consequences.
You know what the critics are. If you tell the truth they only say you're cynical and it does an author no good to get a reputation for cynicism. Truth