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Han Suyin

  • 'Your laws are ineffective,' Wen declared. 'Why? Because no system of control will work as long as most of those administering the law against an evil have more than a finger dipped into it themselves.'

  • Truth, like surgery, may hurt, but it cures.

  • People never think about words, they only feel them.

  • ... moralists have no place in an art gallery.

  • I, like Shenfu, do not want anything else; it would be adding feet to a snake.

  • The rice bowl is to me the most valid reason in the world for doing anything. A piece of one's soul to the multitudes in return for rice and wine does not seem to me a sacrilege.

  • It is the illusion of all lovers to think themselves unique and their words immortal.

  • And there is not anything in the world stronger than tenderness.

  • There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness.

  • And though we waited another three weeks, the end was sure, and we did what we had to do. Fate had spread her nets and lighted her lamps, and into her snare we went, our eyes wide open, like the fish of Deep Water Bay.

  • This is Malaya. Everything takes a long, a very long time, in Malaya. Things get done, occasionally, but more often they don't, and the more in a hurry you are, the quicker you break down.

  • ... with some people there is such a thing as the habit of betrayal ...

  • ... all humans are frightened of their own solitude. Yet only in solitude can man learn to know himself, learn to handle his own eternity of aloneness.

  • ... love from one being to another can only be that two solitudes come nearer, recognize and protect and comfort each other.

  • History, the winnowing wind, never halts. We see the chaff rise, forget the waiting grain, seed of the future, fallen to the threshing floor. We never learn, but live on, slit-narrow, as if our living were a pencil line traced upon paper, behaving as trapped denizens of a flat world hemmed in by the bigoted horizon of our own making. Yet the meaning of living is a pushing back, a pulling down of the great walls and domes of fear and ignorance, is relinquishing the nest for the sky, ignorance for understanding. The look back is also a look forward.

  • No single crisis shapes a generation; but a succession of events, each one bringing its shaping blows to bear ...

  • Many events seem to happen twice to me; even trifles, unimportant-seeming, recur, as if I were destined to live them again, time reconquered, but with added knowledge and a different outcome.

  • ... Vermer tried a pass at me, after giving me lunch one day, and later had tall tales to tell, but that is not uncommon among inferior men. He was only one of a long series of males, who for one reason or another, to boost their own ego, find it satisfying to boast of what they have not achieved.

  • I had to learn that there is more to the human being than material comfort, more than success, more even than national spirit or patriotism. That in any being worthy of being human there is also a demand for justice, for liberty, and that justice needs the evidence of all our lives, liberty is one and indivisible and collective, and no one can talk of justice solely for expediency's sake, nor of liberty while human beings, anywhere else on earth, are still in bondage.

  • We are all products of our time, vulnerable to history.

  • Persecution matures young rebels.

  • Strange are the ways of history, where no single thing abides, but all things flow into each other, fragment to fragment clinging ...

  • A family is a burial mound of its own doings and sayings ...

  • Szechuan was the main bastion of Roman Catholic missionary endeavour into Central Asia. From Chengtu French priests went on long treks into Tibet and Mongolia. Their courage and ability to endure hardship might have been praiseworthy had it not been only too clear that the religious garb covered most unreligious actions. Catholic priests and bishops bought up whole villages in times of flood and famine, demanded and obtained on threat of military action the best land in cities for their churches, after evicting the inhabitants and paying no compensation. Catholic priests formed militia bands of their own, and claimed to rank higher than our own magistrates. Bishops were invested with the pomp and power of governor-generals. They used sedan chairs with eight carriers, a drummer going in front, and everyone in the street where they passed had to stop work, stand up, and unroll their headbands in obeisance to the Catholic bishop, on pain of being beaten with the 'heavy bamboo.'

  • Goldfish are flowers ... flowers that move.

  • Rosalie had to wait many years till at last she realized that her ugliness was only in the eye of the beholder, Mama, and that actually she too was good-looking ...

  • These ways to make people buy were strange and new to us, and many bought for the sheer pleasure at first of holding in the hand and talking of something new. And once this was done, it was like opium, we could no longer do without this new bauble, and thus, though we hated the foreigners and though we knew they were ruining us, we bought their goods. Thus I learnt the art of the foreigners, the art of creating in the human heart restlessness, disquiet, hunger for new things, and these new desires became their best helpers.

  • ... in Chungking's summer, people could not sleep. They strolled in the night until exhaustion pushed them into stupor — a stupor abridged by the ferocious return of the despotic sun at dawn, exploding out of the river and laying its slaughtering rays upon all.

  • Love can never explain the loved one, my dear. It is the essence of wild unreason.

  • I really can't hate for more than 5 or 10 years. Wouldn't it be terrible to be always burdened with those primary emotions you had at one time?

    • Han Suyin,
    • in The New York Times ()
  • Sadness is so ungrateful.

    • Han Suyin

Han Suyin, Chinese physician, writer

(1917 - 2012)

Real name: Chou Kuanghu or Elizabeth Comber.