Robertson Davies Quotes

Enjoy the top 338 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Robertson Davies.

Robertson Davies Quotes

Aristocrats need not be rich, but they must be free, and in the modern world freedom grows rarer the more we prate about it.
— Robertson Davies —

Robertson Davies Quotes: I wish people werent so set on being
I wish people weren't so set on being themselves, when that means being a bastard.

— Robertson Davies

She herself was a victim of that lust for books which rages in the breast like a demon, and which cannot be stilled save by the frequent and plentiful acquisition of books. This passion is more common, and more powerful, than most people suppose. Book lovers are thought by unbookish people to be gentle and unworldly, and perhaps a few of them are so. But there are others who will lie and scheme and steal to get books as wildly and unconscionably as the dope-taker in pursuit of his drug. They may not want the books to read immediately, or at all; they want them to possess, to range on their shelves, to have at command.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: We have educated ourselves into a world
We have educated ourselves into a world from which wonder, and he fear and dread and splendor and freedom of wonder have been banished. Of course wonder is costly. You couldn't incorporate it into a modern state, beacuse it is the antithesis of the anxiously worshiped security which is what a modern state is asked to give. Wonder is marvellous but it is also cruel, cruel, cruel. It is undemocratic, discriminatory and pitiless.

— Robertson Davies

Their very conservatism is secondhand, and they don't know what they are conserving.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: The drama may be called that part of
The drama may be called that part of theatrical art which lends itself most readily to intellectual discussion: what is left is theater.

— Robertson Davies

Tristan and Isolde were lucky to die when they did. They'd have been sick of all that rubbish in a year.

— Robertson Davies

So
I confess I have been a rake at reading. I have read those things which I ought not to have read, and I have not read those things which I ought to have read, and there is no health in me
if by health you mean an inclusive and coherent knowledge of any body of great literature. I can only protest, like all rakes in their shameful senescence, that I have had a good time.

— Robertson Davies

All real fantasy is serious. Only faked fantasy is not serious. That is why it is so wrong to impose faked fantasy on children ...

— Robertson Davies

Just about all men need a woman in one way or another, unless they're very strange indeed. Tormenting you refreshes him. And you shouldn't underestimate the gratitude all men feel for women's beauty. Men who truly don't like flowers are very uncommon and men who don't respond to a beautiful woman are even more uncommon. It's not primarily sexual; it's a lifting of the spirits beauty gives. He'll be in to torment you, and tease you, and enrage you, but really to have a good, refreshing look at you.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: No action is ever lost nothing we do is
No action is ever lost - nothing we do is without result. It's obvious, of course, but how many people ever really believe it, or act as if it were so?

— Robertson Davies

God, youth is a terrible time! So much feeling and so little notion of how to handle it!

— Robertson Davies

My lifelong involvement with Mrs Dempster began at 5:58 o'clock p.m. on 27 December 1908, at which time I was ten years and seven months old.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: The clerisy are those who read for
The clerisy are those who read for pleasure, but not for idleness; who read for pastime but not to kill time; who love books, but do not live by books.

— Robertson Davies

Conversations and jokes together, mutual rendering of good services, the reading together of sweetly phrased books, the sharing of nonsense and mutual attentions.

— Robertson Davies

Life itself is too great a miracle for us to make so much fuss about potty little reversals of what we pompously assume to be the natural order.

— Robertson Davies

Padre Blazon was almost shouting by this time, and I had to hush him. People in the restaurant were staring, and one or two of the ladies of devout appearance were heaving their bosoms indignantly. He swept the room with the wild eyes of a conspirator in a melodrama and dropped his voice to a hiss. Fragments of food, ejected from his mouth by this jet, flew about the table. [p.201]

— Robertson Davies

There is really no such thing as a secret; everybody likes to tell, and everybody does tell.

— Robertson Davies

You are like a fire: you warm me.

— Robertson Davies

There was a moment, however, when the King and I were looking directly into each other's eyes, and in that instant I had a revelation that takes much longer to explain than to experience. Here am I, I reflected, being decorated as a hero, and in the eyes of everybody here I am indeed a hero; but I know that my heroic act was rather a dirty job I did when I was dreadfully frightened; I could just as easily have muddled it and been ingloriously killed. But it doesn't much matter, because people seem to need heroes; so long as I don't lose sight of the truth, it might as well be me as anyone else. And here before me stands a marvellously groomed little man who is pinning a hero's medal on me because some of his forebears were Alfred the Great, and Charles the First, and even King Arthur, for anything I know to the contrary. But I shouldn't be surprised if inside he feels as puzzled about the fate that brings him here as I.

— Robertson Davies

There comes a time when one must be strong with rationalists, for they can reduce anything whatever to dust, if they happen not to like the look of it, or if it threatens their deep-buried negativism. I mean of course rationalists like you, who take some little provincial world of their own as the whole of the universe and the seat of all knowledge.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: I had schooled myself since the war days
I had schooled myself since the war-days never to speak of my enthusiasms; when other people did not share them, which was usual, I was hurt and my pleasure diminished; why was I always excited about things other people did not care about? But I could not hold in.

— Robertson Davies

They were anxious to make men of us, by which they meant making us like themselves.

— Robertson Davies

And why should it not be terrifying? A little terror, in my view, is good for the soul, when it is terror in the face of a noble object.

— Robertson Davies

Of course I long for her, but in honesty I must say that I would rather long for her than have her continuously present. Travel agents assure us that 'getting there is half the fun'; I might say with at least equal truth that longing is some of the best of loving.

— Robertson Davies

When I had to leave she kissed me on both cheeks - a thing she had never done before - and said, 'There's just one thing to remember; whatever happens, it does no good to be afraid.' So I promised not to be afraid, and may even have been a fool enough to think I could keep my promise.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: I wanted to get away said she everybody
I wanted to get away,' said she; 'everybody wants to plague and worry me about nothing. They'll be all right tomorrow. What's worrying them?'
'They are sacrificing to our Canadian God,' said Solly. 'We all believe that if we fret and abuse ourselves sufficiently, Providence will take pity and smile upon anything we attempt. A light heart, or a consciousness of desert, attracts ill luck. You have been away from your native land too long. You have forgotten our folkways. Listen to that gang over there; they are scanning the heavens and hoping aloud that it won't rain tomorrow. That is to placate the Mean Old Man in the Sky, and persuade him to be kind to us.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: You see i do a little in this way myself
"You see, I do a little in this way myself," he explained; "here is my most prized piece." He took from his pocket a snuffbox, which looked to be of eighteenth-century workmanship. Inside the lid was an enamel picture of Leda and the Swan, and when a knob was pushed to and fro the swan thrust itself between Leda's legs, which jerked in mechanical ecstasy. A nasty toy, I thought, but Urky doted on it. "We single gentlemen like to have these things," he said. "What do you do, Darcourt? Of course we know that Hollier has his beautiful Maria."
To my astonishment Hollier blushed, but said nothing. His beautiful Maria? My Miss Theotoky, of New Testament Greek? I didn't like it at all.

— Robertson Davies

Education for immediate effective consumption is more popular than ever, and nobody wants to think of the long term, or the intellectual tone of the nation.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: All eras of history are an equal
All eras of history are an equal distance from eternity.

— Robertson Davies

It is odd how all men develop the notion, as they grow older, that their mothers were wonderful cooks. I have yet to meet a man who will admit that his mother was a kitchen assassin and nearly poisoned him.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: The dog is a yes animal very popular
The dog is a yes-animal. Very popular with people who can't afford a yes man.

— Robertson Davies

It is not always easy to diagnose. The simplest form of stupidity - the mumbling, nose-picking, stolid incomprehension - can be detected by anyone. But the stupidity which disguises itself as thought, and which talks so glibly and eloquently, indeed never stops talking, in every walk of life is not so easy to identify, because it marches under a formidable name, which few dare attack. It is called Popular Opinion ...

— Robertson Davies

Every man makes his own summer. The season has no character of its own, unless one is a farmer with a professional concern for the weather.

— Robertson Davies

Aristocrats need not be rich, but they must be free, and in the modern world freedom grows rarer the more we prate about it.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: Women tell men things that men are not
Women tell men things that men are not very likely to find out for themselves.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: The first principle when you dont know
The first principle, when you don't know anything about the subject of a thesis, is to let the candidate talk, nodding now and then with an ambiguous smile. He thinks you know, and are counting his mistakes, and it unnerves him ... the second principle of conducting an oral, ... is to pretend ignorance, and ask for explanations of very simple points. Of course your ignorance is real, but the examinee thinks you are being subtle, and that he is making an ass of himself, and this rattles him.

— Robertson Davies

As the tragic writer rids us of what is petty and ignoble in our nature, so also the humorist rids us of what is cautious, calculating, and priggish
about half of our social conscience, indeed. Both of them permit us, in blessed moments of revelation, to soar above the common level of our lives.

— Robertson Davies

I just am a Canadian. It is not a thing which you can escape from. It is like having blue eyes

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: The attributes of god have been
The attributes of God have been carefully explored. But the Devil's attributes have been left vague. I think I've found one of them. It is he who puts the prices on things." "Doesn't God put a price on things?" "No. One of his attributes is magnanimity. But the Devil is a setter of prices, and a usurer, as well. You buy from him at an agreed price, but the payments are all on time, and the interest is charged on the whole of the principal, right up to the last payment, however much of the principal you think you have paid off in the meantime.

— Robertson Davies

People are not saints just because they haven't got much money or education.

— Robertson Davies

Book lovers are thought by unbookish people to be gentle and unworldly, and perhaps a few of them are so. But there are others who will lie and scheme and steal to get books as wildly and unconscionably as the dope-taker in pursuit of his drug. They may not want the books to read immediately, or at all; they want them to possess, to range on their shelves, to have at command. They want books as a Turk is thought to want concubines - not to be hastily deflowered, but to be kept at their master's call, and enjoyed more often in thought than in reality.

— Robertson Davies

Childhood may have periods of great happiness, but it also has times that must simply be endured. Childhood at its best is a form of slavery tempered by affection.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: The average politician goes through a
The average politician goes through a sentence like a man exploring a disused mine shaft-blind, groping, timorous and in imminent danger of cracking his shins on a subordinate clause or a nasty bit of subjunctive.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: The book forces itself into my mind when
The book forces itself into my mind when I am lugging furniture, or pulling weeds.

— Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies Quotes: But as a skeptic i am dubious about
But as a skeptic I am dubious about science as about everything else, unless the scientist is himself a skeptic, and few of them are. The stench of formaldehyde may be as potent as the whiff of incense in stimulating a naturally idolatrous understanding.

— Robertson Davies

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