Quotable Quotes


Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Where are you going, Master?” cried Sam, though at least he understood what was happening.

“To the Havens, Sam,” said Frodo.

“And I can’t come.”

“No, Sam. Not yet anyway, not further than the Havens. Though you too were a Ring-bearer, if only for a little while. Your time may come. Do not be too said, Sam. You cannot be always torn in two. You will have to be one and whole, for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do.”

“But,” said Sam, and tears started in his eyes, “I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too, for years and years, after all you have done.”

“So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them. But you are my heir: all that I had and might have had I leave to you. And also you have Rose and Elanor; and Frodo-lad will come, and Rosie-lass, and Merry, and Goldilocks, and Pippin; and perhaps more that I cannot see. Your hands and your wits will be needed everywhere. You will be the Mayor, of course, as long as you want to be, and the most famous gardener in history; and you will read things out of the Red Book, and keep alive the memory of the age that is gone, so that people will remember the Great Danger and so love their be love land all the more. And that will keep you as busy and as happy as anyone can be, as long as your part of the Story goes on.

“Come now, ride with me!”

… …

“You tried to gives the slip once before and failed, Frodo,” he said. “This time you have nearly succeeded, but you have failed again. It was not Sam, though, that gave you away this time, but Gandalf himself!”

“Yes,” said Gandalf; “for it will be better to ride back three together than one alone. Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”


Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.”

“That’s some catch that catch 22,” He observed.

“It’s the best there is.” Doc Daneeka agreed.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

“Think of Hardy as a man who was almost religious, as a man who came so close to believing in God that when he rejected God, his rejection made him ferociously bitter. The kind of fate Hardy believes in is almost like believing in God — at least in that terrible, judgmental God of the old testament. Hardy hates institutions: the Church- more than faith or belief- and certainly marriage (the institution of it), and the institution of education. People are helpless to fate, victims of time– their own emotions undo them, and social institutions of all kinds fail them.

Don’t you see how a belief in such a bitter universe is not unlike religious faith? Like faith, what Hardy believed was naked, plain, vulnerable. Belief in God, or a belief that – eventually- everything has tragic consequences … Either way, you don’t leave yourself any room for philosophical detachment. Either way, you’re not being very clever. Never think of Hardy as clever; never confuse faith, or belief – of any kind – with something even remotely intellectual.

Plunge in– just begin. I’d begin with his notes, his diaries — he never minced words there. Even early- when he was travelling in France, in 1882 – he wrote: ‘Since I discovered several years ago, that I was living in a world where nothing bears out in practice what it promises incipiently, I have troubled myself very little about theories. I am content with tentativeness from day to day.’ You could apply that observation to each of his novels! That’s why I say he was ‘almost religious’ – because he wasn’t a great thinker, he was a great feeler!

To begin, you simply take one of his blunt observations and put it together with one of his more literary observations – you know, about the craft. I like this one: ‘A story must be exceptional enough to justify its telling. We storytellers are all ancient mariners and none of us is justified in stopping wedding guests, unless he has something more unusual to relate than the ordinary experiences of every average man and woman.’

You see? It’s easy. You take his high standards for stories that are ‘exceptional’ and you put that together with his belief that ‘nothing bears out in practice what it promises incipiently,’ and there’s your thesis! Actually, there is his thesis — all you have to do is fill in the examples. Personally, I’d begin with one of the bitterest – take almost anything from Jude the Obscure. How about that terrible little prayer that Jude remembers falling asleep to, when he was a child?

Teach me to live, that I may dread
the grave as little as my bed
Teach me to die…

What could be easier? Wrote Owen Meany.

Born under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield

‘We weren’t rich like those in Wazir Akbar Khan, Fa-wad, but we were happy,’ she would tell me. ‘Of course that was long before the Taliban came. Now look at us! We don’t even own a tree from which we can hang ourselves.’

I was no expert, but it was pretty clear my mother was depressed.

Eyeless in Gaza by Aldous Huxley

Dr Miller: Look at the correlation between religion and diet. Christians eat meat, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco; and Christianity exalts personality, insists on the value of petitionary prayer, teaches that God feels anger and approves the persecution of heretics. It’s the same with the Jews and the Moslems. Kosher and an indignant Jehovah. Mutton and beef – and personal survival among the houris, avenging Allah and holy wars. Now look at the Buddhists. Vegetables and water. And what’s their philosophy? They don’t exalt personality; they try to transcend it. They don’t imagine that God can be angry; when they’re unelightened, they think he’s compassionate, and when they’re enlightened, they think he doesn’t exist, except as an impersonal mind of the universe. Hence they don’t offer petitionary prayer; they meditate – or, mind. Finally, they don’t believe in special providences for individuals; they believe in a moral order, where every event has its cause and produces its effect – where the card’s forced upon you by the conjuror, but only because your previous actions have forced the conjuror to force it upon you. What worlds away from Jehovah and God the Father and everlasting, individual souls! The fact is, of course, that we think as we eat. I eat like a Buddhist, because I find it keeps me well and happy; and the result is that I think like a Buddhist – and, thinking like a Buddhist, I’m confirmed in my determination to eat like one.

Anthony Beavis: And now you’re recommending me to eat like one.

Dr Miller: More or less.

Anthony: And do you also want me to think like one?

Dr M: In the long run you won’t be able to avoid it. But, of course, it’s better to do it consciously.

A: Well as a matter of fact, I do think like a Buddhist already. Not in all ways perhaps, but certainly in many ways. In spite of roast beef.

D: You think you think like a Buddhist. But you don’t. Thinking negatively isn’t thinking like a Buddhist; it’s thinking like a Christian who’s eating more butcher’s meat than his intestine can deal with.

Anthony laughed.

I know it sounds funny. But that’s only because you’re a dualist.

A: I’m not.

Dr. M: Not in theory perhaps. But in practice – how can you be anything but a ualist? What are you, Anthony Beavis? A clever man – that’s obvious. But it’s equally obvious that you’ve got an unconscious body. An efficient thinking apparatus and a hopelessly stupid set of muscles and bones and viscera. Of course you’re a dualist. You live your dualism. And one of the reasons you live it is because you poison yourself with too much animal protein. Like millions of other people, of course! What’s the greatest enemy of Christianity today? Frozen meat. In the past only members of the upper classes were thoroughly sceptical, despairing, negative. Why? Among other reasons, because they were the only people who could afford to eat too much meat. Now there’s cheap Canterbury Lamb and Argentine chilled beef. Even the poor can afford to poison themselves into complete scepticism and despair. And only the most violent stimuli will rouse them to purposive activity and, what’s worse, the only activity they’ll undertake is diabolic. They can only be stimulated by hystercal appeals to persecute Jews, or murder socialists, or got to war. You personally happen to be too intelligent to be a fascist or a nationalistic; but again, it’s a matter of theory, not of life. Believe me, Anthony Beavis, your intestines are ripe for fascism and nationalism. They’re making you long to be shaken out of the horrible negativity to which they’ve condemned you – to be shaken by violence into violence.


Singapore Dreaming (2006)

Husband: Do you respect me?

Wife: Of course I respect you. Don’t be silly. pause. You just have to work harder

Thank you for smoking (2006)

Nick Naylor: The number 1 killer in America is cholesterol, and here comes Senator Finisterre who’s clogging the nation’s arteries with Vermont cheddar cheese.

Senator: The great state of Vermont will not apologize for its cheese!

V for Vendetta (2005)

V: Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.

Fight Club (1996)

“I had it all. Even the glass dishes with tiny bubbles and imperfections, proof they were crafted by the honest, simple, hard-working indigenous peoples of … wherever.”

“On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”


Pozzo: I woke up one fine day as blind as Fortune. (Pause.) Sometimes I wonder if I’m not still asleep.

(Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett)


Weep for what little things could make them glad. Robert Frost


‘We weren’t rich like those in Wazir Akbar Khan, Fa-
wad, but we were happy,’ she would tell me. ‘Of course
that was long before the Taliban came. Now look at
us! We don’t even own a tree from which we can hang
I was no expert, but it was pretty clear my mother
was depressed.


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