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E. M. Forster's Quotes

E. M. Forster profile photo

Born: 1970-01-01
Profession: Novelist
Nation: English
Biography of E. M. Forster

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To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art; men can only make us feel small in the wrong way.

Tags: Art, Men, Small

I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.

Tags: Friend, Hate, Hope

But nothing in India is identifiable, the mere asking of a question causes it to disappear or to merge in something else.

Tags: Else, India, Question

The people I respect most behave as if they were immortal and as if society was eternal.

Tags: Eternal, Respect, Society

At the side of the everlasting why, is a yes, and a yes, and a yes.

Tags: Side, Why, Yes

Either life entails courage, or it ceases to be life.

Tags: Courage, Either, Life

We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship.

Tags: Enough, Freedom, Past

Faith, to my mind, is a stiffening process, a sort of mental starch.

Tags: Faith, Mind, Process

I'm a holy man minus the holiness.

Tags: Holiness, Holy, Minus

If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.

Tags: Country, Friend, Hope

Liking one person is an extra reason for liking another.

Tags: Another, Liking, Reason

Only a writer who has the sense of evil can make goodness readable.

Tags: Evil, Sense, Writer

Two cheers for Democracy; one because it admits variety, and two because it permits criticism.

Tags: Criticism, Democracy, Variety

Creative writers are always greater than the causes that they represent.

Tags: Creative, Greater, Writers

Love and understand the Italians, for the people are more marvellous than the land.

Tags: Land, Love, Understand

The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died, and then queen died of grief is a plot.

Tags: Grief, King, Story

For our vanity is such that we hold our own characters immutable, and we are slow to acknowledge that they have changed, even for the better.

Tags: Changed, Hold, Vanity

Letters have to pass two tests before they can be classed as good: they must express the personality both of the writer and of the recipient.

Tags: Both, Good, Writer

No man can be an agnostic who has a sense of humour.

Tags: Agnostic, Humour, Sense

One of the evils of money is that it tempts us to look at it rather than at the things that it buys.

Tags: Evils, Money, Rather

Only people who have been allowed to practise freedom can have the grown-up look in their eyes.

Tags: Allowed, Eyes, Freedom

Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return.

Tags: Adventure, Return, Sunshine

The sort of poetry I seek resides in objects man can't touch.

Tags: Poetry, Seek, Touch

We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand.

Tags: Shadow, Stand, Wherever

America is rather like life. You can usually find in it what you look for. It will probably be interesting, and it is sure to be large.

Tags: America, Life, Rather

Be soft, even if you stand to get squashed.

Tags: Soft, Squashed, Stand
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Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is the most sublime noise that has ever penetrated into the ear of man.

Tags: Beethoven, Noise, Sublime

Death destroys a man, but the idea of death saves him.

Tags: Death, Him, Idea

England has always been disinclined to accept human nature.

Tags: Accept, Human, Nature

I am certainly an ought and not a must.

Tags: Ought

I have no mystic faith in the people. I have in the individual.

Tags: Faith, Individual, Mystic

I have only got down on to paper, really, three types of people: the person I think I am, the people who irritate me, and the people I'd like to be.

Tags: Paper, Three, Types

Ideas are fatal to caste.

Tags: Caste, Fatal, Ideas

If there is on earth a house with many mansions, it is the house of words.

Tags: Earth, House, Words

It is my fate and perhaps my temperament to sign agreements with fools.

Tags: Fate, Fools, Perhaps

It is the vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness.

Tags: Mind, Vice, Vulgar

Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice.

Tags: Easy, Life, Practice

Most quarrels are inevitable at the time; incredible afterwards.

Tags: Incredible, Inevitable, Time

No one is India.

Tags: India

Nonsense and beauty have close connections.

Tags: Beauty, Close, Nonsense

One is certain of nothing but the truth of one's own emotions.

Tags: Emotions, Truth

One marvels why the middle classes still insist on so much discomfort for their children at such expense to themselves.

Tags: Children, Themselves, Why

Oxford is Oxford: not a mere receptacle for youth, like Cambridge. Perhaps it wants its inmates to love it rather than to love one another.

Tags: Another, Love, Rather

Paganism is infectious, more infectious than diphtheria or piety.

Tags: Infectious, Paganism, Piety

People have their own deaths as well as their own lives, and even if there is nothing beyond death, we shall differ in our nothingness.

Tags: Death, Lives, Shall

Reverence is fatal to literature.

Tags: Fatal, Literature, Reverence

Surely the only sound foundation for a civilization is a sound state of mind.

Tags: Mind, Sound, State

The English countryside, its growth and its destruction, is a genuine and tragic theme.

Tags: English, Genuine, Growth

The final test for a novel will be our affection for it, as it is the test of our friends, and of anything else which we cannot define.

Tags: Cannot, Else, Friends

The more highly public life is organized the lower does its morality sink.

Tags: Life, Morality, Public

The work of art assumes the existence of the perfect spectator, and is indifferent to the fact that no such person exists.

Tags: Art, Perfect, Work

There is something majestic in the bad taste of Italy.

Tags: Bad, Italy, Taste

There lies at the back of every creed something terrible and hard for which the worshipper may one day be required to suffer.

Tags: Hard, Lies, May

Those who prepared for all the emergencies of life beforehand may equip themselves at the expense of joy.

Tags: Joy, Life, May

Very notable was his distinction between coarseness and vulgarity, coarseness, revealing something; vulgarity, concealing something.

Tags: Between, Revealing, Vulgarity

We are all like Scheherazade's husband, in that we want to know what happens next.

Tags: Happens, Husband, Next

We are not concerned with the very poor. They are unthinkable, and only to be approached by the statistician or the poet.

Tags: Concerned, Poet, Poor

The only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.

Tags: Books, Ourselves, Path

Works of art, in my opinion, are the only objects in the material universe to possess internal order, and that is why, though I don't believe that only art matters, I do believe in Art for Art's sake.

Tags: Art, Opinion, Why

Beauty ought to look a little surprised: it is the emotion that best suits her face. The beauty who does not look surprised, who accepts her position as her due - she reminds us too much of a prima donna.

Tags: Beauty, Best, Her

I am so used to seeing the sort of play which deals with one man and two women. They do not leave me with the feeling I have made a full theatrical meal they do not give me the experience of the multiplicity of life.

Tags: Experience, Life, Women

I distrust Great Men. They produce a desert of uniformity around them and often a pool of blood too, and I always feel a little man's pleasure when they come a cropper.

Tags: Great, Men, Often

I never could get on with representative individuals but people who existed on their own account and with whom it might therefore be possible to be friends.

Tags: Friends, Might, Possible

The historian must have some conception of how men who are not historians behave. Otherwise he will move in a world of the dead. He can only gain that conception through personal experience, and he can only use his personal experiences when he is a genius.

Tags: Dead, Experience, Men

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Tags: Life, Waiting, Willing

I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars.

Tags: Mom, Mothers, Sure

One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life.

Tags: Life, Mess, Trust

What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?

Tags: Good, Nature, Sunrise

Love is always being given where it is not required.

Tags: Love, Required

The main facts in human life are five: birth, food, sleep, love and death.

Tags: Food, Life, Love

The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.

Tags: Good, Human, Mind

Think before you speak is criticism's motto; speak before you think, creation's.

Tags: Criticism, Motto, Speak

One always tends to overpraise a long book, because one has got through it.

Tags: Book

Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.

Tags: Feeding, Run, Spoon

Tolerance is a very dull virtue. It is boring. Unlike love, it has always had a bad press. It is negative. It merely means putting up with people, being able to stand things.

Tags: Bad, Boring, Love

Unless we remember we cannot understand.

Tags: Brainy, Remember, Understand

Logic! Good gracious! What rubbish!

Tags: Good, Gracious, Logic

History develops, art stands still.

Tags: Art, History, Stands

What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote.

Tags: Great, Literature, Wonderful

So, two cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism.

Tags: Criticism, Democracy, Variety

There is much good luck in the world, but it is luck. We are none of us safe. We are children, playing or quarrelling on the line.

Tags: Children, Good, Luck

The fact is we can only love what we know personally. And we cannot know much. In public affairs, in the rebuilding of civilization, something less dramatic and emotional is needed, namely tolerance.

Tags: Cannot, Emotional, Love

The woman who can't influence her husband to vote the way she wants ought to be ashamed of herself.

Tags: Husband, Vote, Woman

A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself.

Tags: Poetry, Together, True

How can I know what I think till I see what I say?

Tags: Till

At night, when the curtains are drawn and the fire flickers, my books attain a collective dignity.

Tags: Books, Fire, Night

Charm, in most men and nearly all women, is a decoration.

Tags: Charm, Men, Women

The sadness of the incomplete, the sadness that is often Life, but should never be Art.

Tags: Art, Life, Sadness

Only a struggle twists sentimentality and lust together into love.

Tags: Love, Struggle, Together
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