No egoism is so insufferable as that of the Christian with regard to his soul.
— W. Somerset Maugham
It is well known that Beauty does not look with a good grace on the timid advances of Humour.
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.
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.
The writer is more concerned to know than to judge.
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.
Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind.
Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.
Only a mediocre person is always at his best.
It seems that the creative faculty and the critical faculty cannot exist together in their highest perfection.
Anyone can tell the truth, but only very few of us can make epigrams.
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.
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.
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.
People ask for criticism, but they only want praise.
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.
Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.
I can imagine no more comfortable frame of mind for the conduct of life than a humorous resignation.
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.
Habits in writing as in life are only useful if they are broken as soon as they cease to be advantageous.
When you are young you take the kindness people show you as your right.
The trouble with young writers is that they are all in their sixties.
Sentimentality is the only sentiment that rubs you the wrong way.
Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five.
Men have an extraordinarily erroneous opinion of their position in nature; and the error is ineradicable.
Death doesn't affect the living because it has not happened yet. Death doesn't concern the dead because they have ceased to exist.
There are two good things in life - freedom of thought and freedom of action.
Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long.
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.
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.
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.
It wasn't until late in life that I discovered how easy it is to say, 'I don't know.'
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.
Marriage is a very good thing, but I think it's a mistake to make a habit out of it.
At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.
We have long passed the Victorian Era when asterisks were followed after a certain interval by a baby.
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.
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.
It's very hard to be a gentleman and a writer.
We learn resignation not by our own suffering, but by the suffering of others.
The world is quickly bored by the recital of misfortune, and willing avoids the sight of distress.
You are not angry with people when you laugh at them. Humor teaches tolerance.
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.
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.
Old age has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less than the pleasures of youth.
You can do anything in this world if you are prepared to take the consequences.
We know our friends by their defects rather than by their merits.
It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it.
Impropriety is the soul of wit.
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one's dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent.