Quotes by W. Somerset Maugham

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The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.

It's a funny thing about life: if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.
Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind.
Perfection is what American women expect to find in their husbands... but English women only hope to find in their butlers.
You know that the Tasmanians, who never committed adultery, are now extinct.
Perfection has one grave defect. It is apt to be dull.
It is dangerous to let the public behind the scenes. They are easily disillusioned and then they are angry with you, for it was the illusion they loved.
I can imagine no more comfortable frame of mind for the conduct of life than a humorous resignation.
You are not angry with people when you laugh at them. Humor teaches tolerance.
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.
No one can write a best seller by trying to. He must write with complete sincerity; the clich?s that make you laugh, the hackneyed characters, the well-worn situations, the commonplace story that excites your derision, seem neither hackneyed, well worn nor commonplace to him. The conclusion is obvious: you cannot write anything that will convince unless you are yourself convinced. The best seller sells because he writes with his heart's blood.
Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs.
The complete life, the perfect pattern, includes old age as well as youth and maturity. The beauty of the morning and the radiance of noon are good, but it would be a very silly person who drew the curtains and turned on the light in order to shut out the tranquillity of the evening. Old age has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less than the pleasures of youth.
It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.
The unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.
Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.
Only a mediocre person is always at his best.
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.
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.
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 is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.
People who ask for your criticism want only praise.
Common sense and nature will do a lot to make the pilgrimage of life not too difficult.
No egoism is so insufferable as that of the Christian with regard to his soul.
I would sooner read a timetable or a catalog than nothing at all.
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.
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.
Old age has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less than the pleasures of youth.
It's very hard to be a gentleman and a writer.
Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.
Tolerance is only another name for indifference.
The great critic must be a philosopher, for from philosophy he will learn serenity, impartiality, and the transitoriness of human things.
Love is what happens to a man and woman who don't know each other.
The world is quickly bored by the recital of misfortune, and willing avoids the sight of distress.
Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five.
Few misfortunes can befall a boy which bring worse consequences than to have a really affectionate mother.
If you want to eat well in England, eat three breakfasts.
Men have an extraordinarily erroneous opinion of their position in nature; and the error is ineradicable.
I've always been interested in people, but I've never liked them.
American women expect to find in their husbands a perfection that English women only hope to find in their butlers.
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.
It is unfair to expect a politician to live in private up to the statements he makes in public.
A man who is a politician at forty is a statesman at three score and ten. It is at this age, when he would be too old to be a clerk or a gardener or a police-court magistrate, that he is ripe to govern a country.
If forty million people say a foolish thing it does not become a wise one, but the wise man is foolish to give them the lie.
We learn resignation not by our own suffering, but by the suffering of others.
Sentimentality is the only sentiment that rubs you the wrong way.
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.
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. Failure makes people bitter and cruel.
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.
It is well known that Beauty does not look with a good grace on the timid advances of Humor.
From the earliest times the old have rubbed it into the young that they are wiser than they, and before the young had discovered what nonsense this was they were old too, and it profited them to carry on the imposture.
The future will one day be the present and will seem as unimportant as the present does now.
We know our friends by their defects rather than their merits.
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.
There are two good things in life -- freedom of thought and freedom of action.
For if the proper study of mankind is man, it is evidently more sensible to occupy yourself with the coherent, substantial and significant creatures of fiction than with the irrational and shadowy figures of real life.
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.
It seems that the creative faculty and the critical faculty cannot exist together in their highest perfection.
You can do anything in this world if you are prepares to take the consequences.
Common-sense appears to be only another name for the thoughtlessness of the unthinking. It is made of the prejudices of childhood, the idiosyncrasies of individual character and the opinion of the newspapers.