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Henry James quotes (showing 1-30 of 421)

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
Henry James
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Henry James
“I'm glad you like adverbs — I adore them; they are the only qualifications I really much respect.”
Henry James
“It's time to start living the life you've imagined.”
Henry James
“I don't want everyone to like me; I should think less of myself if some people did.”
Henry James
“It has made me better loving you... it has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I did not have them. Theoretically, I was satisfied. I flattered myself that I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid sterile hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better. It’s just as when one has been trying to spell out a book in the twilight, and suddenly the lamp comes in. I had been putting out my eyes over the book of life, and finding nothing to reward me for my pains; but now that I can read it properly I see that it’s a delightful story.”
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
“She feels in italics and thinks in CAPITALS.”
Henry James
“We work in the dark - we do what we can - we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”
Henry James, The Middle Years
tags: art
“Sorrow comes in great waves...but rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us, it leaves us. And we know that if it is strong, we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain.”
Henry James
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
tags: tea
“I'm yours for ever--for ever and ever. Here I stand; I'm as firm as a rock. If you'll only trust me, how little you'll be disappointed. Be mine as I am yours.”
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
tags: love
“Her reputation for reading a great deal hung about her like the cloudy envelope of a goddess in an epic.”
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
“I always want to know the things one shouldn't do."
"So as to do them?" asked her aunt.
"So as to choose." said Isabel”
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
“Live all you can: it's a mistake not to. It doesn't matter what you do in particular, so long as you have had your life. If you haven't had that, what have you had?”
Henry James, The Ambassadors
“Never say you know the last word about any human heart.”
Henry James
“I call people rich when they're able to meet the requirements of their imagination.”
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
“Life is, in fact, a battle. Evil is insolent and strong; beauty enchanting, but rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day; imbeciles to be in great places, people of sense in small, and mankind generally unhappy. But the world as it stands is no narrow illusion, no phantasm, no evil dream of the night; we wake up to it, forever and ever; and we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it.”
Henry James, Theory of Fiction: Henry James
“She had an immense curiosity about life, and was constantly staring and wondering.”
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
“I intend to judge things for myself; to judge wrongly, I think, is more honorable than not to judge at all.”
Henry James
“If this was love, love had been overrated.”
Henry James, The Europeans
tags: love
“Obstacles are those frightening things you see when you take you eyes off your goal.”
Henry James
“Try to be one of those on whom nothing is lost.”
Henry James, The Art of Fiction
“And remember this, that if you've been hated, you've also been loved.”
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
“Be not afraid of life believe that life is worth living and your belief will create the fact.”
Henry James
“She is written in a foreign tongue.”
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
“She was a young person of many theories; her imagination was remarkably active. It had been her fortune to possess a finer mind than most of the persons among whom her lot was cast; to have a larger perception of surrounding facts, and to care for knowledge that was tinged with the unfamiliar...It may be affirmed without delay that She was probably very liable to the sin of self-esteem; she often surveyed with complacency the field of her own nature; she was in the habit of taking for granted, on scanty evidence, that she was right; impulsively, she often admired herself...Every now and then she found out she was wrong, and then she treated herself to a week of passionate humility. After this she held her head higher than ever again; for it was of no use, she had an unquenchable desire to think well of herself. She had a theory that it was only on this condition that life was worth living; that one should be one of the best, should be conscious of a fine organization, should move in the realm of light, of natural wisdom, of happy impulse, of inspiration gracefully chronic.”
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
“Don't pass it by--the immediate, the real, the only, the yours.”
Henry James
“The right time is any time that one is still so lucky as to have.”
Henry James
“Don't mind anything any one tells you about any one else. Judge everyone and everything for yourself.”
Henry James
“Don’t underestimate the value of irony—it is extremely valuable.”
Henry James, Washington Square
tags: irony

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