William Somerset Maugham

(1874-1965 / Paris)

William Somerset Maugham Quotes

  • ''Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of habit.''
    W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), British author. The Summing Up, ch. 15 (1938).
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  • ''The great critic ... must be a philosopher, for from philosophy he will learn serenity, impartiality, and the transitoriness of human things.''
    W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), British author. The Summing Up, ch. 60 (1938).
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  • ''We learn resignation not by our own suffering, but by the suffering of others.''
    W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), British author. The Summing Up, ch. 19 (1938). Maugham was writing of his experiences as a medical student and the suffering he witnessed then: "Suffering did not ennoble; it degraded. It made men selfish, mean, petty and suspicious. It absorbed them in small things ... it made them less than men."
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  • ''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.''
    W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), British author. Alroy Kear, in Cakes and Ale, ch. 11 (1930).
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  • ''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.''
    W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1966), British author. Ashenden, in Cakes and Ale, ch. 11 (1930).
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  • ''It's very hard to be a gentleman and a writer.''
    W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), British author. Ashenden, in Cakes and Ale, ch. 11 (1930).
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  • ''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.''
    W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), British author. Ashenden, in Cakes and Ale, ch. 11 (1930). Contesting the romanticization of beauty.
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  • ''I can imagine no more comfortable frame of mind for the conduct of life than a humorous resignation.''
    W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1966), British author. A Writer's Notebook, entry, 1902 (1949).
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  • ''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.''
    W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1966), British author. A Writer's Notebook, entry for 1901 (1949).
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  • ''Tolerance is only another name for indifference.''
    W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1966), British author. A Writer's Notebook, entry for 1896 (1949).
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