Book//mark – The Moon and Sixpence | W. Somerset Maugham, 1919

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 W. Somerset Maugham, 1874-1965                                     The Moon and Sixpence, 1919

“It is one of the defects of my character that I cannot altogether dislike anyone who makes me laugh.”

“Impropriety is the soul of wit.”

“Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist fashions out of the chaos of the world
in the torment of his soul. And when he has made it, it is not given to all to know it. To recognize
it you must repeat the adventure of the artist. It is a melody that he sings to you, and to hear it
again in your own heart you want knowledge and sensitiveness and imagination.”

“Art is a manifestation of emotion, and emotion speaks a language that all may understand”

“Sometimes people carry to such perfection the mask they have assumed that
in due course they actually become the person they seem.”

“Sometimes I’ve thought of an island lost in a boundless sea, where I could live in some
hidden valley, among strange trees, in silence. There I think I could find what I want.”

“Each one of us is alone in the world. He is shut in a tower of brass, and can communicate with
his fellows only by signs, and the signs have no common value, so that their sense is vague and
uncertain. We seek pitifully to convey to others the treasures of our heart, but they have not the
power to accept them, and so we go lonely, side by side but not together, unable to know our
fellows and unknown by them. We are like people living in a country whose language they
know so little that, with all manner of beautiful and profound things to say, they are
condemned to the banalities of the conversation manual. Their brain is seething with
ideas, and they can only tell you that the umbrella of the gardener’s aunt is in the house.”

“It is hard that a man’s exterior should tally so little sometimes with his soul.”

“The world is hard and cruel. We are here none knows why, and we go none knows whither.
We must be very humble. We must see the beauty of quietness. We must go through life so
inconspicuously that Fate does not notice us. And let us seek the love of simple, ignorant
people. Their ignorance is better than all our knowledge. Let us be silent, content in our
little corner, meek and gentle like them. That is the wisdom of life.”

“It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes,
but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.”

“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 in 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 known. 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.”

“I don’t think of the past. The only thing that matters is the everlasting present.”

“People talk of beauty lightly, and having no feeling for words, they use that one carelessly,
so that it loses its force; and the thing it stands for, sharing its name with a hundred trivial
objects, is deprived of dignity. They call beautiful a dress, a dog, a sermon; and when they
are face to face with Beauty cannot recognise it.”

“Unconsciously, perhaps, we treasure the power we have over people by their regard for
our opinion of them, and we hate those upon whom we have no such influence.”

“As lovers, the difference between men and women is that women can love all day long,
but men only at times.”

“When a woman loves you she’s not satisfied until she possesses your soul. Because
she’s weak, she has a rage for domination, and nothing less will satisfy her.”

“There is no cruelty greater than a woman’s to a man who loves her and whom she does
not love; she has no kindness then, no tolerance even, she has only an insane irritation.”

“I think I was a little disappointed in her. I expected then people to be more of a piece than
I do now, and I was distressed to find so much vindictiveness in so charming a creature.
I did not realize how motley are the qualities that go to make up a human being. Now I am
well aware that pettiness and grandeur, malice and charity, hatred and love, can find place
side by side in the same human heart.”

“Life isn’t long enough for love and art.”

“To my mind the most interesting thing in art is the personality of the artist; and if
that is singular, I am willing to excuse a thousand faults.”

“You rejoice in your freedom, and you feel that at last you can call your soul your own.
You seem to walk with your head among the stars. And then, all of a sudden you can’t
stand it anymore, and you notice that all the time your feet have been walking
in the mud.”

“The writer is more concerned to know than to judge.”

W. Somerset Maugham,  The Moon and Sixpence, 1919


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