Quotes by Robertson Davies

Get quotes of the day

How do you feel today?    I feel ...

The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.

The love of truth lies at the root of much humor.
Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.
A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.
If we seek the pleasures of love, passion should be occasional, and common sense continual.
If I had my way books would not be written in English, but in an exceedingly difficult secret language that only skilled professional readers and story-tellers could interpret. Then people like you would have to go to public halls and pay good prices to hear the professionals decode and read the books aloud for you. This plan would have the advantage of scaring off all amateur authors, retired politicians, country doctors and I-Married-a-Midget writers who would not have the patience to learn the secret language.
What we call luck is the inner man externalized. We make things happen to us.
You never see what you want to see, forever playing to the gallery.
Comparatively few people know what a million dollars actually is. To the majority it is a gaseous concept, swelling or decreasing as the occasion suggests. In the minds of politicians, perhaps more than anywhere, the notion of a million dollars has this accordion-like ability to expand or contract; if they are disposing of it, the million is a pleasing sum, reflecting warmly upon themselves; if somebody else wants it, it becomes a figure of inordinate size, not to be compassed by the rational mind.
A Librettist is a mere drudge in the world of opera.
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.
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.
He types his labored column -- weary drudge! Senile fudge and solemn: spare, editor, to condemn these dry leaves of his autumn.
Happiness is always a by-product. It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular. But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.
Few people can see genius in someone who has offended them.
The world is burdened with young fogies. Old men with ossified minds are easily dealt with. But men who look young, act young and everlastingly harp on the fact that they are young, but who nevertheless think and act with a degree of caution that would be excessive in their grandfathers, are the curse of the world. Their very conservatism is secondhand, and they don't know what they are conserving.
The greatest gift that Oxford gives her sons is, I truly believe, a genial irreverence toward learning, and from that irreverence love may spring.
Nothing is so easy to fake as the inner vision.
An old house is a nuisance, but it is obviously intended for men and women to live in. Much modern housing would be better called kenneling.
Many a promising career has been wrecked by marrying the wrong sort of woman. The right sort of woman can distinguish between Creative Lassitude and plain shiftlessness.
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.
From the dawn of civilization mothers, as a class, were held in reasonably high regard until Mother's Day was established, with the purpose of compelling every man, under pain of social ostracism, to declare that his mother was the greatest woman who ever lived, and to give proof, in consumer goods, of his tremulous adoration of her. In consequence a lot of men,--just to show that their souls are their own and without any ill-will toward the authors of their being--kick and buffet their mothers all over the house on Mother's Day, although during the other 364 days of the year they take them to the movies, buy them bags of nut fudge, and provide them with lacy shawls and crime-story magazines.
A big man is always accused of gluttony, whereas a wizened or osseous man can eat like a refugee at every meal, and no one ever notices his greed.
Women often weep at weddings, whereas my own instinct is to laugh uproariously and encourage the bride and groom with merry whoops. The sight of people getting married exhilarates me; I think that they are doing a fine thing, and I admire them for it.
It is not the frequency of divorce which makes the times wicked; it is the wickedness of the times which increases divorce.
I do not really like vacations; I much prefer an occasional day off when I do not feel like working. When I am confronted with a whole week in which I have nothing to do but enjoy myself I do not know where to begin. To me, enjoyment comes fleetingly and unheralded; I cannot determinedly enjoy myself for a whole week at a time.
The man who writes only for the eye generally writes badly; the man who writes to be heard will write with some eloquence, some regard for the music of words, and will reach nearer to his reader's heart and mind.
Many times my heart has bled for the hostess who has slaved for hours to produce four kinds of sandwiches and two kinds of cake, and who is so exhausted by her labours that she casts a gloom over her own party. Far, far better to offer something simple and good, in a spirit of revelry, than to toil to produce pretentious mediocrity. It is the spirit which makes a party, and not dainty sandwiches, cut in the form of hearts and tasting like spades.
It seems odd to me that in our present educational system, in which virtually everything else is taught or half-taught, nobody teaches these young hopefuls how to behave when looking for a job. I do not ask for groveling humility, but some hint of modesty, and some offer of honest service, would be welcome.