Famous Quotes & Sayings

Robertson Davies Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Robertson Davies.

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Robertson Davies Quotes 1842869

The beauty of ethics is that nobody can be perfectly certain about what it includes or even what it means. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 300202

I just am a Canadian. It is not a thing which you can escape from. It is like having blue eyes — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1274667

Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1323969

I had schooled myself since the war-days never to speak of my enthusiasms; when other people did not share them, which was usual, I was hurt and my pleasure diminished; why was I always excited about things other people did not care about? But I could not hold in. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 933834

Pornography is rather like trying to find out about a Beethoven symphony by having somebody tell you about it and perhaps hum a few bars. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 755457

And I say to you that if you bring curiosity to your work it will cease to be merely a job and become a door through which you enter the best that life has to give you. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1564965

There's the satisfaction of Eng-Lang-and-Lit; somebody else has said everything for you, and said it better. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1847296

A happy childhood has spoiled many a promising life. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 2204518

She herself was a victim of that lust for books which rages in the breast like a demon, and which cannot be stilled save by the frequent and plentiful acquisition of books. This passion is more common, and more powerful, than most people suppose. Book lovers are thought by unbookish people to be gentle and unworldly, and perhaps a few of them are so. But there are others who will lie and scheme and steal to get books as wildly and unconscionably as the dope-taker in pursuit of his drug. They may not want the books to read immediately, or at all; they want them to possess, to range on their shelves, to have at command. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1595344

Marriage isn't just domesticity, or the continuance of the race, or institutionalized sex, or a form of property right. And it damned well isn't happiness, as that word is generally used. I think it's a way of finding your soul. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1317809

Conversations and jokes together, mutual rendering of good services, the reading together of sweetly phrased books, the sharing of nonsense and mutual attentions. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 379137

In the end, it is upon the quality and commitment of individuals that all group movements depend. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 328202

Childhood may have periods of great happiness, but it also has times that must simply be endured. Childhood at its best is a form of slavery tempered by affection. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 2040378

Myself: But wasn't the decision a right one? Am I not here? What more could Feeling have achieved than was brought about by Reason? — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 2224788

Energy and curiosity are the lifeblood of universities; the desire to find out, to uncover, to dig deeper, to puzzle out obscurities, is the spirit of the university, and it is a channelling of that unresting curiosity that holds mankind together. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 2133425

I was afraid and did not know what I feared, which is the worst kind of fear. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1420268

I don't think I would ever write a book with what anybody could call pornography in it, because I feel that pornography is a cheat. It is an attempt to provide sexual experience by secondhand means. Now sex is a thing which has to be experienced firsthand, if you are really going to understand it, and pornography is rather like trying to find out about a Beethoven symphony by having somebody tell you about it and perhaps hum a few bars. It's not the same thing. Sex is primarily a question of relationships. Pornography is a do-it-yourself kit
a twenty-second best. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 994277

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1775238

Happiness is a by-product. It is not a primary product of life. It is a thing which you suddenly realize you have because you're so delighted to be doing something which perhaps has nothing whatever to do with happiness. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 148645

So
I confess I have been a rake at reading. I have read those things which I ought not to have read, and I have not read those things which I ought to have read, and there is no health in me
if by health you mean an inclusive and coherent knowledge of any body of great literature. I can only protest, like all rakes in their shameful senescence, that I have had a good time. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 613025

A man who recognizes no God is probably placing an inordinate value on himself. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1673152

I was not sure I wanted to issue orders to life; I rather liked the Greek notion of allowing Chance to take a formative hand in my affairs. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 395098

I think of an author as somebody who goes into the marketplace and puts down his rug and says, "I will tell you a story," and then he passes the hat. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 2187045

But I was a lonely creature, and although I would have been very happy to have a friend I just never happened to meet one. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1162892

Canada was settled, in the main, by people with a lower middle-class outlook, and a respect, rather than an affectionate familiarity, for the things of the mind. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1498027

Conversation in its true meaning isn't all wagging the tongue; sometimes it is a deeply shared silence. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1952192

Art is always at peril in universities, where there are so many people, young and old, who love art less than argument, and dote upon a text that provides the nutritious pemmican on which scholars love to chew. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1615917

The only people who make any sense in the world are those who know that whatever happens to them has its roots in what they are. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1059615

Civilization rests on two things: the discovery that fermentation produces alcohol, and the voluntary ability to inhibit defecation. And I put it to you, where would this splendid civilization be without both? — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1706527

I wanted to get away,' said she; 'everybody wants to plague and worry me about nothing. They'll be all right tomorrow. What's worrying them?'
'They are sacrificing to our Canadian God,' said Solly. 'We all believe that if we fret and abuse ourselves sufficiently, Providence will take pity and smile upon anything we attempt. A light heart, or a consciousness of desert, attracts ill luck. You have been away from your native land too long. You have forgotten our folkways. Listen to that gang over there; they are scanning the heavens and hoping aloud that it won't rain tomorrow. That is to placate the Mean Old Man in the Sky, and persuade him to be kind to us. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1553891

What chance has a Saint Francis, if his Assisi is a multicultured, financial, unyieldingly secular northern city, whose lepers and other detrimentals are charges on the public purse? — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1474489

My lifelong involvement with Mrs Dempster began at 5:58 o'clock p.m. on 27 December 1908, at which time I was ten years and seven months old. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 145902

Which was complimentary but unhelpful, because the librarians were tough. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 152755

When irony first makes itself known in a young man's life, it can be like his first experience of getting drunk; he has met with a powerful thing which he does not know how to handle. — Robertson Davies

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A great many complimentary things have been said about the faculty of memory, and if you look in a good quotation book you will find them neatly arranged. — Robertson Davies

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Geordie wrote a letter to Mr. Webster in which the shrieking figure of Apology was hounded through a labyrinth of agonized syntax. — Robertson Davies

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May I make a suggestion, hoping it is not an impertinence? Write it down: write down what you feel. It is sometimes a wonderful help in misery. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 275741

That is the operatic problem; the singer must keep up a big head of steam while trying to appear secretive, or seductive, or consumptive. Some ingenious composer should write an opera about a group of people who were condemned by a cruel god to scream all the time; it would be an instantaneous success, and a triumph of versimilitude. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 315570

That was what stuck in the craws of all the good women of Deptford: Mrs Dempster had not been raped, as a decent woman would have been - no, she had yielded because a man wanted her. The subject was not one that could be freely discussed even among intimates, but it was understood without saying that if women began to yield for such reasons as that, marriage and society would not last long. Any man who spoke up for Mrs Dempster probably believed in Free Love. Certainly he associated sex with pleasure, and that put him in a class with filthy thinkers like Cece Athelstan. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 320767

If I know this, I ought to be able to escape the stupider kinds of illusion. The absolute nature of things is independent of my senses (which are all I have to perceive with), and what I perceive is an image of my own psyche. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 323647

The people of the United States, perhaps more than any other nation in history, love to abase themselves and proclaim their unworthiness, and seem to find refreshment in doing so ... That is a dark frivolity, but still frivolity. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 342881

The greatest gift that Oxford gives her sons is, I truly believe, a genial irreverence toward learning, and from that irreverence love may spring. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 381396

You are still young enough to think that torment of the spirit is a splendid thing, a sign of a superior nature. But you are no longer a young man; you are a youngish middle aged man, and it is time you found out that these spiritual athletics do not lead to wisdom. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 381684

Not enough attention is paid to the negative side of fashion. Great effort is exerted to make people look smart, but somebody should face the fact that a lot of people never will be smart, and that they should be given some assistance in maintaining their fascinating dowdiness. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 429764

Too much traffic with a quotation book begets a conviction of ignorance in a sensitive reader. Not only is there a mass of quotable stuff he never quotes, but an even vaster realm of which he has never heard. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 434210

Let people alone. Let them find their way. Let them find their level and you may sometimes be delighted and astonished at the extraordinary high level to which they'll rise if they're let alone. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 606974

To ask an author who hopes to be a serious writer if his work is autobiographical is like asking a spider where he buys his thread. The spider gets his thread right out of his own guts, and that is where the author gets his writing. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 618607

Moderation, the Golden Mean, the Aristonmetron, is the secret of wisdom and of happiness. But it does not mean embracing an unadventurous mediocrity; rather it is an elaborate balancing act, a feat of intellectual skill demanding constant vigilance. Its aim is a reconciliation of opposites. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 655370

Anybody who has had experience of poetesses knows that they may forgive a punch on the jaw, but never a suggestion that they would be wiser to give up versifying. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 678110

Some countries you love. Some countries you hate. Canada is a country you worry about. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 697973

Very often when I am introduced to women, I think, What is she really like behind the disguise which she wears? And very often I discover that she is pleasant enough, and probably would expand and glow if she received enough affection. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 726654

Life itself is too great a miracle for us to make so much fuss about potty little reversals of what we pompously assume to be the natural order. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 772184

Love affairs are for emotional sprinters; the pleasures of love are for the emotional marathoners. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 785701

It used to be fashionable for authors to have their pictures taken with dogs, but the dogs always looked like models hired from an advertising agency, and probably were. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 787896

Any theologian understands martyrdom, but only the martyr experiences the fire. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 804456

If I had to describe my remarks this evening frankly as if I were in police court and on oath, so to speak I should have to call it a ramble over several subjects, portions of which may seem to you to be impudent, and portions of which will be ignorant, and portions of which may contrive to be both at once. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 850709

No, it's the musicians and I must say they are an accomplished bunch, but odd, as musicians tend to be. Is it the vibration from their instruments, do you suppose, working on the brain? All that fraught buzzing? — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 853237

He was a genius - that is to say, a man who does superlatively and without obvious effort something that most people cannot do by the uttermost exertion of their abilities. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 873380

There is absolutely no point in sitting down to write a book unless you feel that you must write that book, or else go mad, or die. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 888460

A boy is a man in miniature, and though he may sometimes exhibit notable virtue, as well as characteristics that seem to be charming because they are childlike, he is also a schemer, self-seeker, traitor, Judas, crook, and villain - in short, a man. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 904699

Fanaticism is overcompensation for doubt. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 918041

To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 939486

Our forebears are deserving of tribute for one indisputable reason, if for no other: without them we should not be here. Let us recognize that we are not the ultimate triumph but rather we are beads on a string. Let us behave with decency to the beads that were strung before us and hope modestly that the beads that come after us will not hold us of no account simply because we are dead. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 950399

There is no nonsense so gross that society will not, at some time, make a doctrine of it and defend it with every weapon of communal stupidity. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 962536

What is meant to be heard is necessarily more direct in expression, and perhaps more boldly coloured, than what is meant for the reader. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1027331

I liked the company of most of my colleagues, who were about equally divided among good men who were good teachers, awful men who were awful teachers, and the grotesques and misfits who drift into teaching and are so often the most educative influences a boy meets in school. If a boy can't have a good teacher, give him a psychological cripple or an exotic failure to cope with; don't just give him a bad, dull teacher. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1036599

"You see, I do a little in this way myself," he explained; "here is my most prized piece." He took from his pocket a snuffbox, which looked to be of eighteenth-century workmanship. Inside the lid was an enamel picture of Leda and the Swan, and when a knob was pushed to and fro the swan thrust itself between Leda's legs, which jerked in mechanical ecstasy. A nasty toy, I thought, but Urky doted on it. "We single gentlemen like to have these things," he said. "What do you do, Darcourt? Of course we know that Hollier has his beautiful Maria."
To my astonishment Hollier blushed, but said nothing. His beautiful Maria? My Miss Theotoky, of New Testament Greek? I didn't like it at all. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1045083

He became an unimaginative woman's creation. Delilah had shorn his locks and assured him he looked much neater and cooler without them. He gave her his soul, and she transformed it into a cabbage. — Robertson Davies

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Be not another if thou canst be thyself. — Robertson Davies

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Nothing is so easy to fake as the inner vision. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1161280

They were untouched by modern education, but their government was striving with might and main to procure this inestimable benefit for them; anticlericalism and American bustle would soon free them from belief in miracles and holy likenesses. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1162125

Here are some homosexuals whom we would do well to take seriously. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1229972

Are you New World or Old?'
'Sounds like a novel by Henry James.'
'Never read him.'
'Don't. But that was his question and he plumped for the Old. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1235733

Canada, having few indigenous prejudices, has been compelled to import them from elsewhere, duty-free, and it is the rare Canadian who is not shaken, at some time in the year, by "old, unhappy, far-off things / And battles long ago", like Wordsworth's solitary reaper. We are a nation of immigrants, and not happy in our minds. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1279800

There is more to marriage than four bare legs under a blanket. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1340342

The egotist is all surface; underneath is a pulpy mess and a lot of self-doubt. But the egoist may be yielding and even deferential in things he doesn't consider important; in anything that touches his core he is remorseless. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1368243

Only in the theatre was it possible to see the performers and to be warmed by their personal charm, to respond to their efforts and to feel their response to the applause and appreciative laughter of the audience. It had an intimate quality; audience and actors conspired to make a little oasis of happiness and mirth within the walls of the theatre. Try as we will, we cannot be intimate with a shadow on a screen, nor a voice from a box. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1369600

I have no skills with machines. I fear them, and because I cannot help attributing human qualities to them, I suspect that they hate me and will kill me if they can. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1399321

The recognition of oneself as a part of nature, and reliance on natural things, are disappearing for hundreds of millions of people who do not know that anything is being lost. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1470235

My dear fellow, my whole life is moved by the principle that the one thing which is more important than peace is music. It is because I believe that I am poor. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1533944

Fiction is not photography, it's oil painting. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1542802

Civilization rests on two things," said Hitzig; "the discovery that fermentation produces alcohol, and voluntary ability to inhibit defecation. And I put it to you, where would this splendidly civilized occasion be without both? — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1546397

I think we're living in an age which despises humanity and despises bravery and doesn't need bravery because modern warfare has rather gone beyond bravery. It is a kind of warfare where people are fighting enemies they never see, killing people of whom they know nothing. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1572631

Education is a great shield against experience. It offers so much, ready-made and all from the best shops, that there's a temptation to miss your own life in pursuing the life of your betters. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1595214

Never neglect the charms of narrative for the human heart. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1672047

What an amusing drama life is when one is not obliged to be one of the characters! — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1705508

The great charm of cats is their rampant egotism, their devil-may-care attitude toward responsibility, their disinclination to earn an honest dollar ... — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1719217

It is part of the received doctrine of modern biography that all characters are Flawed, and as a Christian priest I am quite ready to agree, but the Flaws the biographers exhibited usually meant that the person under discussion had not seen eye to eye with the biographer on matters of politics, or social betterment, or something impersonal. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1909180

One of the things that puzzles me is that so few people want to look at life as a totality and to recognize that death is no more extraordinary than birth. When they say it's the end of everything they don't seem to recognize that we came from somewhere and it would be very, very strange indeed to suppose that we're not going somewhere. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1920197

"There is no disputing about tastes," says the old saw. In my experience there is little else. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1926966

Forgive yourself for being a human creature, Ramezay. That is the beginning of wisdom; that is part of what is meant by the fear of God; and for you it is the only way to save your sanity. Begin now, or you will end up with your saint in the madhouse. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1961228

Though thousands of people indulge themselves in it regularly, and even develop a taste for it, there is no doubt in my mind (and that of scientists whom I employ to prove it) that Work is a dangerous and destructive drug, and should be called by its right name, which is Fatigue. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 1977564

Women always think that if they tell a man not to be pompous that will shut him up, but I am an old hand at that game. I know that if a man bides his time his moment will come. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 2060114

Whoever declares a child to be "delicate" thereby crowns and anoints a tyrant. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 2062527

So Leola thought that a modest romance with a hero in embryo could do no harm - might even be a patriotic duty. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 2161007

Great drama, drama that may reach the alchemical level, must have dimension and its relevance will take care of itself. Writing about AIDS rather than the cocktail set, or possibly the fairy kingdom, will not guarantee importance ... The old comment that all periods of time are at an equal distance from eternity says much, and pondering on it will lead to alchemical theatre while relevance becomes old hat. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 2210909

I have been very miserable since - miserable not for an hour but for months on end - but I can still feel that hour's misery in its perfect desolation, if I am fool enough to call it up in my mind. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 2211505

Marriage is a framework to preserve friendship. It is valuable because it gives much more room to develop than just living together. It provides a base from which a person can work at understanding himself and another person. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 2237662

She swore in good mouth-filling oaths, but never smutty ones, and that was uncommon. She knew the prosody of profanity ... she knew the tune, as well as the words. She was not a raving beauty, but she had fine eyes and a Pre-Raphelite air of being too good for this world while at the same time exhibiting much of what this world desires in a woman, and I suppose I gaped at her and behaved clownishly. — Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes 2269855

Boredom and stupidity and patriotism, especially when combined, are three of the greatest evils of the world we live in. — Robertson Davies