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Mary Renault

  • ... her smile was as open as a small boy's, a personal enjoyment rather than a social gesture.

  • Kit was not blind to the fact that his habitual honesty was an unfailing passport for his lies, and it did nothing to increase his pleasure in telling them.

  • ... illegibility, she maintained, was a form of bad manners.

  • ... death was the price of life.

  • ... he thought, like all other fathers, that I was younger and sillier than himself at the same age.

  • What keeps the democracy alive at all but the hatred of excellence; the desire of the base to see no head higher than their own?

  • But courage without conduct is the virtue of a robber, or a tyrant.

  • ... an ox seemed to be treading down my tongue.

  • Never destroy without thought your enemy's pretences; they are usually your best weapon against him.

  • Love is a boaster at heart, who cannot hide the stolen horse without giving a glimpse of the bridle.

  • ... he looked just like any other disreputable old demagogue, one who lives by denouncing and exposing while he is in credit, and, when he is out, by sycophancy and informations, with a little perjury thrown in.

  • Half the world's troubles come from men not being trained to resent a fallacy as much as an insult.

  • How can the people trust the harvest, unless they see it sown?

  • But he had all an artist needs, except the spark from the god.

  • It is a fact that you can make an audience see nearly anything, if you yourself believe in it.

  • The perpetual stream of human nature is formed into ever-changing shallows, eddies, falls and pools by the land over which it passes. Perhaps the only real value of history lies in considering this endlessly varied play between the essence and the accidents.

  • All tragedies deal with fated meetings; how else could there be a play? Fate deals its stroke; sorrow is purged, or turned to rejoicing; there is death, or triumph; there has been a meeting, and a change. No one will ever make a tragedy — and that is as well, for one could not bear it — whose grief is that the principals never met.

  • Often beauty grows dull or common when speech breaks the mask ...

  • In hatred as in love, we grow like the thing we brood upon. What we loathe, we graft into our very soul.

  • It gives me no joy to be praised at the expense of a better artist, by someone who does not know the difference or who thinks me too vain to be aware of it myself.

  • An audience of twenty thousand, sitting on its hands, could not have produced such an echoing silence.

  • Longing performs all things.

  • There is nothing like despair to make one throw oneself upon the gods.

  • All men seek esteem; the best by lifting themselves, which is hard to do, the rest by shoving others down, which is much easier.

  • Power is the test. Some, once they have it, are content to buy the show of liking, and punish those who withhold it; then you have a despot. But some keep a true eye for how they seem to others, and care about it, which holds them back from much mischief.

  • His sense of his deserts had grown. Now he was sure that what he desired, he deserved, and anyone who denied it merited punishment.

  • In all men is evil sleeping; the good man is he who will not awaken it, in himself or in other men.

  • It is bitter to lose a friend to evil, before one loses him to death.

  • Tell a man what he may not sing and he is still half free; even all free, if he never wanted to sing it. But tell him what he must sing, take up his time with it so that his true voice cannot sound even in secret — there, I have seen is slavery.

Mary Renault, English novelist

(1905 - 1983)

Real name: Eileen Mary Challans.