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John Fowles quotes (showing 1-30 of 415)

“The human race is unimportant. It is the self that must not be betrayed."

"I suppose one could say that Hitler didn't betray his self."

"You are right. He did not. But millions of Germans did betray their selves. That was the tragedy. Not that one man had the courage to be evil. But that millions had not the courage to be good.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“I love making, I love doing. I love being to the full, I love everything which is not sitting and watching and copying and dead at heart.”
John Fowles, The Collector
“To write poetry and to commit suicide, apparently so contradictory, had really been the same, attempts at escape.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“I think we are just insects, we live a bit and then die and that’s the lot. There’s no mercy in things. There’s not even a Great Beyond. There’s nothing.”
John Fowles, The Collector
“If you forget everything else about me, please remember this. I walked down that street and I never looked back and I love you. I love you. I love you so much that I shall hate you for ever for today.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“We all write poems; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words.”
John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman
“Once upon a time there was a young prince who believed in all things but three. He did not believe in princesses, he did not believe in islands, he did not believe in God. His father, the king, told him that such things did not exist. As there were no princesses or islands in his father's domains, and no sign of God, the young prince believed his father.

But then, one day, the prince ran away from his palace. He came to the next land. There, to his astonishment, from every coast he saw islands, and on these islands, strange and troubling creatures whom he dared not name. As he was searching for a boat, a man in full evening dress approached him along the shore.

Are those real islands?' asked the young prince.

Of course they are real islands,' said the man in evening dress.

And those strange and troubling creatures?'

They are all genuine and authentic princesses.'

Then God must exist!' cried the prince.

I am God,' replied the man in full evening dress, with a bow.

The young prince returned home as quickly as he could.

So you are back,' said the father, the king.

I have seen islands, I have seen princesses, I have seen God,' said the prince reproachfully.

The king was unmoved.

Neither real islands, nor real princesses, I have seen God,' said the prince reproachfully.

The king was unmoved.

Neither real islands, nor real princesses, nor a real God exist.'

I saw them!'

Tell me how God was dressed.'

God was in full evening dress.'

Were the sleeves of his coat rolled back?'

The prince remembered that they had been. The king smiled.

That is the uniform of a magician. You have been deceived.'

At this, the prince returned to the next land, and went to the same shore, where once again he came upon the man in full evening dress.

My father the king has told me who you are,' said the young prince indignantly. 'You deceived me last time, but not again. Now I know that those are not real islands and real princesses, because you are a magician.'

The man on the shore smiled.

It is you who are deceived, my boy. In your father's kingdom there are many islands and many princesses. But you are under your father's spell, so you cannot see them.'

The prince pensively returned home. When he saw his father, he looked him in the eyes.

Father, is it true that you are not a real king, but only a magician?'

The king smiled, and rolled back his sleeves.

Yes, my son, I am only a magician.'

Then the man on the shore was God.'

The man on the shore was another magician.'

I must know the real truth, the truth beyond magic.'

There is no truth beyond magic,' said the king.

The prince was full of sadness.

He said, 'I will kill myself.'

The king by magic caused death to appear. Death stood in the door and beckoned to the prince. The prince shuddered. He remembered the beautiful but unreal islands and the unreal but beautiful princesses.

Very well,' he said. 'I can bear it.'

You see, my son,' said the king, 'you too now begin to be a magician.”
John Fowles
“I hate the uneducated and the ignorant. I hate the pompous and the phoney. I hate the jealous and the resentful. I hate the crabbed and mean and the petty. I hate all ordinary dull little people who aren't ashamed of being dull and little.”
John Fowles, The Collector
“We all want things we can't have. Being a decent human being is accepting that.”
John Fowles, The Collector
“It's despair at the lack of feeling, of love, of reason in the world. It's despair that anyone can even contemplate the idea of dropping a bomb or ordering that it should be dropped. It's despair that so few of us care. It's despair that there's so much brutality and callousness in the world. It's despair that perfectly normal young men can be made vicious and evil because they've won a lot of money. And then do what you've done to me.”
John Fowles, The Collector
“Forgetting’s not something you do, it happens to you. Only it didn’t happen to me.”
John Fowles, The Collector
“When you draw something it lives and when you photograph it it dies”
John Fowles, The Collector
“I am infinitely strange to myself.”
John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman
“The most important questions in life can never be answered by anyone except oneself.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“You wish to be liked. I wish simply to be. One day you will know what that means, perhaps. And you will smile. Not against me. But with me.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“Between skin and skin, there is only light.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“Greece is like a mirror. It makes you suffer. Then you learn.'
To live alone?'
To live. With what you are.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“There is only one good definition of God: the freedom that allows other freedoms to exist.”
John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman
“The power of women! I've never felt so full of mysterious power. Men are a joke.
We're so weak physically, so helpless with things. Still, even today. But we're stronger than they are. We can stand their cruelty. They can't stand ours.”
John Fowles, The Collector
“It is only when our characters and events begin to disobey us that they begin to live.”
John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman
“I just think of things as beautiful or not. Can't you understand? I don't think of good or bad. Just of beautiful or ugly. I think a lot of nice things are ugly and a lot of nasty things are beautiful.”
John Fowles, The Collector
“The ordinary man is the curse of civilization.”
John Fowles, The Collector
“I acquired expensive habits and affected manners. I got a third-class degree and a first-class illusion: that I was a poet. But nothing could have been less poetic that my seeing-through-all boredom with life in general and with making a living in particular. I was too green to know that all cynicism masks a failure to cope-- an impotence, in short; and that to despise all effort is the greatest effort of all. But I did absorb a small dose of one permanently useful thing, Oxford's greatest gift to civilized life: Socratic honesty. It showed me, very intermittently, that it is not enough to revolt against one's past. One day I was outrageously bitter among some friends about the Army; back in my own rooms later it suddenly struck me that just because I said with impunity things that would have apoplexed my dead father, I was still no less under his influence. The truth was I was not a cynic by nature, only by revolt. I had got away from what I hated, but I hadn't found where I loved, and so I pretended that there was nowhere to love. Handsomely equipped to fail, I went out into the world.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“The dead live."
"How do they live?"
"By love.”
John Fowles, The Magus
tags: dead, love
“Liking other people is an illusion we have to cherish in ourselves if we are to live in society.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“He was one of the most supremely stupid men I have ever met. He taught me a great deal.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“I read and I read; and I was like a medieval king, I had fallen in love with the picture long before I saw the reality.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“If anything might hurt her, silence would; and I wanted to hurt her.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“It is not only species of animal that die out, but whole species of feeling. And if you are wise you will never pity the past for what it did not know, but pity yourself for what it did.”
John Fowles, The Magus
“They're beautiful. But sad.'
Everything's sad if you make it so, I said.”
John Fowles, The Collector

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