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Robertson Davies Quotes
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Robertson Davies Quote: “A happy childhood has spoiled many a promising life.”

A happy childhood has spoiled many a promising life.

— Robertson Davies



Robertson Davies Quote: “Let people alone. Let them find their way. Let them find their level and you may sometimes be delighted and astonished at the extraordinary high level to which they’ll rise if they’re let alone.”

Let people alone. Let them find their way. Let them find their level and you may sometimes be delighted and astonished at the extraordinary high level to which they’ll rise if they’re let alone.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “When one is traveling, one must expect to spend a certain amount of money foolishly.”

When one is traveling, one must expect to spend a certain amount of money foolishly.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “The young are often accused of exaggerating their troubles; they do so, very often, in the hope of making some impression upon the inertia and the immovability of the selfish old.”

The young are often accused of exaggerating their troubles; they do so, very often, in the hope of making some impression upon the inertia and the immovability of the selfish old.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “Pornography is rather like trying to find out about a Beethoven symphony by having somebody tell you about it and perhaps hum a few bars.”

Pornography is rather like trying to find out about a Beethoven symphony by having somebody tell you about it and perhaps hum a few bars.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.”

Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “If you’re going to do something that looks evil, don’t smear it with icing and pretend it’s good; just bloody well do it and keep your eyes peeled.”

If you’re going to do something that looks evil, don’t smear it with icing and pretend it’s good; just bloody well do it and keep your eyes peeled.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “Civilization rests on two things: the discovery that fermentation produces alcohol, and the voluntary ability to inhibit defecation. And I put it to you, where would this splendid civilization be without both?”

Civilization rests on two things: the discovery that fermentation produces alcohol, and the voluntary ability to inhibit defecation. And I put it to you, where would this splendid civilization be without both?

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “Canada was settled, in the main, by people with a lower middle-class outlook, and a respect, rather than an affectionate familiarity, for the things of the mind.”

Canada was settled, in the main, by people with a lower middle-class outlook, and a respect, rather than an affectionate familiarity, for the things of the mind.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “There can be no doubt that Samuel Marchbanks is one of the choice and master spirits of this age. If there were such a volume as Who Really Ought To Be Who his entry would require several pages.”

There can be no doubt that Samuel Marchbanks is one of the choice and master spirits of this age. If there were such a volume as Who Really Ought To Be Who his entry would require several pages.

— Robertson Davies



Robertson Davies Quote: “The pleasures of love are for those who are hopelessly addicted to another living creature.”

The pleasures of love are for those who are hopelessly addicted to another living creature.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “We live in a world where bulk is equated with quality.”

We live in a world where bulk is equated with quality.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “In my experience tact is usually worse than the brutalities of truth.”

In my experience tact is usually worse than the brutalities of truth.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “I was not sure I wanted to issue orders to life; I rather liked the Greek notion of allowing Chance to take a formative hand in my affairs.”

I was not sure I wanted to issue orders to life; I rather liked the Greek notion of allowing Chance to take a formative hand in my affairs.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “He was a genius – that is to say, a man who does superlatively and without obvious effort something that most people cannot do by the uttermost exertion of their abilities.”

He was a genius – that is to say, a man who does superlatively and without obvious effort something that most people cannot do by the uttermost exertion of their abilities.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “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.”

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


Robertson Davies Quote: “All real fantasy is serious. Only faked fantasy is not serious. That is why it is so wrong to impose faked fantasy on children...”

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


Robertson Davies Quote: “Several children present me with scraps of paper for autographs: obviously don’t know who I am and don’t care. I sign “Jackie Collins” and they go away quite content.”

Several children present me with scraps of paper for autographs: obviously don’t know who I am and don’t care. I sign “Jackie Collins” and they go away quite content.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “In a government like ours, the Crown is the abiding and unshakable element in government; politicians may come and go, but the Crown remains and certain aspects of our system pertain to it which are not dependent on any political party. In this sense, the Crown is the consecrated spirit of Canada.”

In a government like ours, the Crown is the abiding and unshakable element in government; politicians may come and go, but the Crown remains and certain aspects of our system pertain to it which are not dependent on any political party. In this sense, the Crown is the consecrated spirit of Canada.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “Fiction is not photography, it’s oil painting.”

Fiction is not photography, it’s oil painting.

— Robertson Davies



Robertson Davies Quote: “Curiosity is part of the cement that holds society together.”

Curiosity is part of the cement that holds society together.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “The egotist is all surface; underneath is a pulpy mess and a lot of self-doubt. But the egoist may be yielding and even deferential in things he doesn’t consider important; in anything that touches his core he is remorseless.”

The egotist is all surface; underneath is a pulpy mess and a lot of self-doubt. But the egoist may be yielding and even deferential in things he doesn’t consider important; in anything that touches his core he is remorseless.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “If we seek the pleasures of love, passion should be occasional, and common sense continual.”

If we seek the pleasures of love, passion should be occasional, and common sense continual.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “A man must be obedient to the promptings of his innermost heart.”

A man must be obedient to the promptings of his innermost heart.

— Robertson Davies


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

Women tell men things that men are not very likely to find out for themselves.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “I still have trouble identifying grammatical structures by name, though I know them as matters of usage.”

I still have trouble identifying grammatical structures by name, though I know them as matters of usage.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “You’re all mad for words. Words are just farts from a lot of fools who have swallowed too many books. Give me things!”

You’re all mad for words. Words are just farts from a lot of fools who have swallowed too many books. Give me things!

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “The nature of happiness is such that happiness retreats the more intensely you pursue it.”

The nature of happiness is such that happiness retreats the more intensely you pursue it.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “If a man wants to be of the greatest possible value to his fellow-creature s let him begin the long, solitary task of perfecting himself.”

If a man wants to be of the greatest possible value to his fellow-creature s let him begin the long, solitary task of perfecting himself.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “Canada has one of the highest rates of insanity in any civilized country and one reason might be that life in many places is so desperately dull.”

Canada has one of the highest rates of insanity in any civilized country and one reason might be that life in many places is so desperately dull.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “Art is always at peril in universities, where there are so many people, young and old, who love art less than argument, and dote upon a text that provides the nutritious pemmican on which scholars love to chew.”

Art is always at peril in universities, where there are so many people, young and old, who love art less than argument, and dote upon a text that provides the nutritious pemmican on which scholars love to chew.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “People are not saints just because they haven’t got much money or education.”

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

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “Like it or not, to reach middle age with less money or less prestige than our father had is somewhat to lose face. Stupid of course, when put like that, but who is prepared to argue that we are not stupid in several important ways?”

Like it or not, to reach middle age with less money or less prestige than our father had is somewhat to lose face. Stupid of course, when put like that, but who is prepared to argue that we are not stupid in several important ways?

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “She has been kissed as often as a police-court Bible, and by much the same class of people.”

She has been kissed as often as a police-court Bible, and by much the same class of people.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “We tend to think human knowledge as progressive; because we know more and more, our parents and grandparents are back numbers. But a contrary theory is possible – that we simply recognize different things at different times and in different ways.”

We tend to think human knowledge as progressive; because we know more and more, our parents and grandparents are back numbers. But a contrary theory is possible – that we simply recognize different things at different times and in different ways.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “A man who recognizes no God is probably placing an inordinate value on himself.”

A man who recognizes no God is probably placing an inordinate value on himself.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “Comparatively few people know what a million dollars actually is. To the majority it is a gaseous concept, swelling or decreasing as the occasion suggests.”

Comparatively few people know what a million dollars actually is. To the majority it is a gaseous concept, swelling or decreasing as the occasion suggests.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “In the end, it is upon the quality and commitment of individuals that all group movements depend.”

In the end, it is upon the quality and commitment of individuals that all group movements depend.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “My dear fellow, my whole life is moved by the principle that the one thing which is more important than peace is music. It is because I believe that I am poor.”

My dear fellow, my whole life is moved by the principle that the one thing which is more important than peace is music. It is because I believe that I am poor.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “A Librettist is a mere drudge in the world of opera.”

A Librettist is a mere drudge in the world of opera.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “I never heard of anyone who was really literate or who ever really loved books who wanted to suppress any of them. Censors only read a book with great difficulty, moving their lips as they puzzle out each syllable, when someone tells them that the book is unfit to read.”

I never heard of anyone who was really literate or who ever really loved books who wanted to suppress any of them. Censors only read a book with great difficulty, moving their lips as they puzzle out each syllable, when someone tells them that the book is unfit to read.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “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.”

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


Robertson Davies Quote: “It is a waste of time to dissipate one’s moral zeal in disapproving of royal persons who have mistresses.”

It is a waste of time to dissipate one’s moral zeal in disapproving of royal persons who have mistresses.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “Whoever declares a child to be “delicate” thereby crowns and anoints a tyrant.”

Whoever declares a child to be “delicate” thereby crowns and anoints a tyrant.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “If you attack Stupidity you attack an entrenched interest with friends in government and every walk of public life.”

If you attack Stupidity you attack an entrenched interest with friends in government and every walk of public life.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “No, it’s the musicians and I must say they are an accomplished bunch, but odd, as musicians tend to be. Is it the vibration from their instruments, do you suppose, working on the brain? All that fraught buzzing?”

No, it’s the musicians and I must say they are an accomplished bunch, but odd, as musicians tend to be. Is it the vibration from their instruments, do you suppose, working on the brain? All that fraught buzzing?

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “The quality of what is said inevitably influences the way in which it is said, however inexperienced the writer.”

The quality of what is said inevitably influences the way in which it is said, however inexperienced the writer.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “Are you going to be just kind of a walking monument to a job, or are you going to have some kind of really significant inner life of your own? Because the external things the job, the house, the this, the that do not really fill the place inside.”

Are you going to be just kind of a walking monument to a job, or are you going to have some kind of really significant inner life of your own? Because the external things the job, the house, the this, the that do not really fill the place inside.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “The greatest gift that Oxford gives her sons is, I truly believe, a genial irreverence toward learning, and from that irreverence love may spring.”

The greatest gift that Oxford gives her sons is, I truly believe, a genial irreverence toward learning, and from that irreverence love may spring.

— Robertson Davies


Robertson Davies Quote: “To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser.”

To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser.

— Robertson Davies

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