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Vikram Seth quotes (showing 1-30 of 64)

“God save us from people who mean well.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“But I too hate long books: the better, the worse. If they're bad they merely make me pant with the effort of holding them up for a few minutes. But if they're good, I turn into a social moron for days, refusing to go out of my room, scowling and growling at interruptions, ignoring weddings and funerals, and making enemies out of friends. I still bear the scars of Middlemarch.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“I sometimes seem to myself to wander around the world merely accumulating material for future nostalgias.”
Vikram Seth
“All you who sleep tonight
Far from the ones you love,
No hand to left or right,
An emptiness above--

Know that you aren't alone.
The whole world shares your tears,
Some for two nights or one,
And some for all your years.”
Vikram Seth
“Is it not love that knows how to make smooth things rough and rough things smooth?”
Vikram Seth, An Equal Music
“What is the difference between my life and my love? One gets me low, the other lets me go.”
Vikram Seth, An Equal Music
“Think of many things. Never place your happiness in one person's power. Be just to yourself.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“It's not the gods
But our own hearts
We need to fear.
The evil starts
Against all odds
Not there but here.”
Vikram Seth, Arion and the Dolphin
“Music, such music, is a sufficient gift. Why ask for happiness; why hope not to grieve? It is enough, it is to be blessed enough, to live from day to day and to hear such music-not too much, or the soul could not sustain it-from time to time.”
Vikram Seth, An Equal Music
“She was quite pretty too in those days; indeed, perhaps she still was. But for some reason none of her boyfriends remained boyfriends for long. She had a very decided personality and fairly soon took to telling them what they should do with their lives and studies and work. She began to mother them or perhaps brother them (since she was something of a tomboy) - and this sooner or later took the edge off their romantic excitement. They even began to find her vivacity over-powering, and sooner or later edged away from her - with guilt on their side and pain on hers. This was a great pity, for Kalpana Gaur was a lively, affectionate, and intelligent woman, and deserved some recompense for the help and happiness she gave others”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“Quietly they moved down the calm and sacred river that had come down to earth so that its waters might flow over the ashes of those long dead, and that would continue to flow long after the human race had, through hatred and knowledge, burned itself out.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“And an equation is the same whether it's written in red or green ink”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“You can't blame her,' said Amit. 'After a life so full of tragedy anyone would become hard.'

'What tragedy?' asked Mrs. Chatterji.

'Well, when she was four,' said Amit, 'her mother slapped her--it was quite traumatic--and then things went on in that vein. When she was twelve she came in second in an exam...It hardens you.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“Man without life companion is either god or beast.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“Of course, the greater one's need, the greater one's propensity to be mesmerized.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“But I was her first love, as she was mine. Nor have I ever been in love since. But then I have never fallen out of love with her – with her, I suppose, as she then was, or as I grew afterwards to realize or imagine she had been. What is she now, who is she now? Am I with such inane fidelity fixated on someone who could have utterly changed (but could she have? could she really have changed so much?), who could have grown to hate me for leaving her, who could have forgotten me or learned deliberately to expunge me from her mind. How many seconds or weeks after seeing me…did I survive her thoughts?”
Vikram Seth, An Equal Music
“My eyes close. I am here and not here. A waking nap? A flight to the end of the galaxy and perhaps a couple of billion light-years beyond?”
Vikram Seth
“A Word Of Thanks

To these I know a debt past telling:
My several muses, harsh and kind;
My folks, who stood my sulks and yelling,
And (in the long run) did not mind;
Dead legislators, whose orations
I've filched to mix my own potations;
Indeed, all those whose brains I've pressed,
Unmerciful, because obsessed;
My own dumb soul, which on a pittance
Survived to weave this fictive spell;
And, gentle reader, you as well,
The fountainhead of all remittance.
Buy me before good sense insists
You'll strain your purse and sprain your wrists.”
Vikram Seth
“She had dispersed. She was the garden at Prem Nivas (soon to be entered into the annual Flower Show), she was Veena's love of music, Pran's asthma, Maan's generosity, the survival of some refugees four years ago, the neem leaves that would preserve quilts stored in the great zinc trunks of Prem Nivas, the moulting feather of some pond-heron, a small unrung brass bell, the memory of decency in an indecent time, the temperament of Bhaskar's great-grandchildren. Indeed, for all the Minsisster of Revenue's impatience with her, she was his regret.

And it was right that she should continue to be so, for he should have treated her better while she lived, the poor, ignorant, grieving fool.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“Good books get praised, bad books get praised. Good books get ignored, bad books get ignored”
Vikram Seth
tags: books
“In life's brief game to be a winner
A man must have...oh yes, above
All else, of course, someone to love.”
Vikram Seth, The Golden Gate

Voices in my head,
Chanting, 'Kisses. Bread.
Prove yourself. Fight. Shove.
Learn. Earn. Look for love',

Drown a lesser voice,
Silent now of choice:
'Breathe in peace, and be
Still, for once, like me'.”
Vikram Seth
“Every object strives for its proper place. A book seeks to be near its truest admirer. Just as this helpless moth seeks to be near the candle that infatuates him.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“And the process of reading is such a private one. I once came into a room where a friend of mine was reading one of my books, and he clicked his tongue impatiently and shooed me off.”
Vikram Seth, The Rivered Earth
“Oh, no said her mother sadly. You know nothing of the pettiness of women. When brothers agree to split a joint family they sometimes divide lakhs of rupees worth of property in a few minutes. But the tussle of their wives over the pots and pans in the common kitchen--that nearly causes bloodshed.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“The Fever Bird

The fever bird sand out last night.
I could not sleep, try as I might.

My brain was split, my spirit raw.
I looked into the garden, saw

The shadow of the amaltas
Shake slightly on the moonlit grass

Unseen, the bird cried out its grief,
Its lunacy, without relief:

Three notes repeated closer, higher,
Soaring, then sinking down like fire

Only to breathe the night and soar,
As crazed, as desperate, as before.

I shivered in the midnight heat
And smelt the sweat that soaked my sheet.

And now tonight I hear again
The call that skewers though my brain,

The call, the brain-sick triple note--
A cone of pain stuck inits throat.

I am so tired I could weep.
Mad bird, for God's sake let me sleep

Why do you cry like one possessed?
When will you rest? When will you rest?

Why wait each night till all but I
Lie sleeping in the house, then cry?

Why do you scream into my ear
What no one else but I can hear?”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“In a clear brook
With joyful haste
The whimsical trout
Shot past me like an arrow

I play the line of the song, I play the leaps and plunges of the right hand of the piano, I am the trout, the angler, the brook, the observer.”
Vikram Seth, An Equal Music
“The ifs and buts of history...form an insubstantial if intoxicating diet.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“I've always felt that the performance of a raag resembles a novel - or at least the kind of novel I'm attempting to write. You know,' he continued, extemporizing as he went along, 'first you take one note and explore it for a while, then another to discover its possibilities, then perhaps you get to the dominant, and pause for a bit, and it's only gradually that the phrases begin to form and the tabla joins in with the beat...and then the more brilliant improvisations and diversions begin, with the main theme returning from time to time, and finally it all speeds up, and the excitement increases to a climax.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy
“He had come to a decision about the next step in his life. This decision was irrevocable unless he changed his mind.”
Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy

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