W. Somerset Maugham

English writer (born in France) of novels and short stories (1874-1965)

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I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers at their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage. They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever knows. Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves. Perhaps some deep-rooted atavism urges the wanderer back to lands which his ancestors left in the dim beginnings of history. Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest.
The great tragedy of life is not that men perish, but that they cease to love.
D'you call life a bad job Never We've had our ups and downs, we've had our struggles, we've always been poor, but it's been worth it, ay, worth it a hundred times I say when I look round at my children.
Follow your inclinations with due regard to the policeman round the corner.
There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
When you choose your friends, don't be short-changed by choosing personality over character.
A woman can forgive a man for the harm he does her...but she can never forgive him for the sacrifices he makes on her account.
American women expect to find in their husbands a perfection that English women only hope to find in their butlers.
An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.
Art for art's sake makes no more sense than gin for gin's sake.
Art is merely the refuge which the ingenious have invented, when they were supplied with food and women, to escape the tediousness of life.
At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.
By the time a man notices that he is no longer young, his youth has long since left him.
Death is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it.
Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.
Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.
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.
He had heard people speak contemptuously of money he wondered if they had ever tried to do without it.
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.
I can imagine no more comfortable frame of mind for the conduct of life than a humorous resignation.
I daresay one profits more by the mistakes one makes off one's own bat than by doing the right thing on somebody's else advice.
I do not confer praise or blame I accept. I am the measure of all things. I am the centre of the world.
I don't know why it is that the religious never ascribe common sense to God.
I don't think of the past. The only thing that matters is the everlasting present.
If a man should importune me to give a reason why I loved him, I find it could no otherwise be expressed, than by making answer because it was he, because it was I.
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.
Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.
It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded.
It is cruel to discover one's mediocrity only when it is too late.
It is funny about life: if you refuse to accept anything but the very best you will very often get 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.
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one's dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent.
It is salutary to train oneself to be no more affected by censure than by praise.
It was such a lovely day I thought it a pity to get up.
It was such a lovely day I thought it was a pity to get up.
It's a funny thing about life if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.
It's a funny thing about life: if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.
It's asking a great deal that things should appeal to your reason as well as your sense of the aesthetic.
Life isn't long enough for love and art.
Life wouldn't be worth living if I worried over the future as well as the present.
Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind.
Love is a dirty trick played on us to achieve the continuation of the species.
Men seek but one thing in life - their pleasure.
Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five.
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.
People ask for criticism, but they only want praise.
She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit.
Sometimes people carry to such perfection the mask they have assumed that in due course they actually become the person they seem.
The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.
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. It is failure that makes people bitter and cruel.
The future will one day be the present and will seem as unimportant as the present does now.
The important thing was to love rather than to be loved.
The nature of men and women - their essential nature - is so vile and despicable that if you were to portray a person as he really is, no one would believe you.
The rain fell alike upon the just and upon the unjust, and for nothing was there a why and a wherefore.
The unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.
The value of money is that with it we can tell any man to go to the devil. It is the sixth sense which enables you to enjoy the other five.
There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.
There is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.
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.
There was an immeasurable distance between the quick and the dead they did not seem to belong to the same species and it was strange to think that but a little while before they had spoken and moved and eaten and laughed.
There's always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved.
To bear failure with courage is the best proof of character that anyone can give.
To regard the imagination as metaphysics is to think of it as part of life, and to think of it as part of life is to realize the extent of artifice. We live in the mind.
To write simply is as difficult as to be good.
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.
We do not write because we want to we write because we have to.
We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.
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.
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 I was young I had an elderly friend who used often to ask me to stay with him in the country. He was a religious man and he read prayers to the assembled household every morning. But he had crossed out in pencil all the passages that praised God. He said that there was nothing so vulgar as to praise people to their faces and, himself a gentleman, he could not believe that God was so ungentlemanly as to like it.
When things are at their worst I find something always happens.
When you have loved as she has loved, you grow old beautifully.
You are not angry with people when you laugh at them. Humor teaches them tolerance.
You know that the Tasmanians, who never committed adultery, are now extinct.

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