Top 113 E.M. Forster Quotes

It isn’t possible to love and part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.


The main facts in human life are five: birth, food, sleep, love and death.


Life’ wrote a friend of mine, ‘is a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along.


Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.


If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.


Miss Abbott, don’t worry over me. Some people are born not to do things. I’m one of them.


Death destroys a man: the idea of Death saves him.


It is so difficult – at least, I find it difficult – to understand people who speak the truth.


While the Gods are powerful, we learn little about them. It is only in their day of decadence that a strong light beats into heaven.


The advance of regret can be so gradual that it is impossible to say “yesterday I was happy, today I am not.


After all, is not a real Hell better than a manufactured Heaven?


He had awoken too late for happiness, but not for strength, and could feel an austere joy, as of a warrior who is homeless but stands fully armed.


I was yours once till death if you cared to keep me, but I’m someone else’s now–I can’t hang about whining for ever–and he’s mine in a way that shocks you, but why don’t you stop being shocked and attend to your own happiness?


I have almost completed a long novel, but it is unpublishable until my death and England’s.


Let us think of people as starting life with an experience they forget and ending it with one which they anticipate but cannot understand.


We are not concerned with the very poor. They are unthinkable, and only to be approached by the statistician or the poet.


The Waves is an extraordinary achievement … It is trembling on the edge. A little less – and it would lose its poetry. A little more – and it would be over into the abyss, and be dull and arty. It is her greatest book.


How do I know what I think until I see what I say?


Expansion. That is the idea the novelist must cling to. Not completion. Not rounding off, but opening out.


A work of art is never finished. It is merely abandoned.


But nothing in India is identifiable, the mere asking of a question causes it to disappear and merge into something else.


Books have to be read (worse luck, for it takes a long time); it is the only way of discovering what they contain.


He had known so much about her once -what she thought, how she felt, the reasons for her actions. And now he only knew that he loved her, and all the other knowledge seemed passing from him just as he needed it most.


And if insight were sufficient, if the inner life were the whole of life, their happiness has been assured.


we may say that History develops, Art stands still


Science explained people, but could not understand them.


Science is better than sympathy, if only it is science.


I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little further down our particular path than we have yet gone ourselves.


What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote.


A book is a mirror; if an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to peer out.


Margaret had often wondered at the disturbance that takes place in the world’s waters when Love, who seems so tiny a pebble, slips in. Whom does Love concern beyond the beloved and the lover? Yet his impact deluges a hundred shores,


I won’t be protected. I will choose for myself what is ladylike and right. To shield me is an insult.


Have you ever noticed that there are people who do things which are most indelicate, and yet at the same time – beautiful?


My father says that there is only one perfect view — the view of the sky straight over our heads, and that all these views on earth are but bungled copies of it.


Beauty ought to look a little surprised: it is the emotion that best suits her face…. The beauty who does not look surprised, who accepts her position as her due—she reminds us too much of a prima donna.


There stood a young man who had the figure of a Greek athlete and the face of an English one…Just where he began to be beautiful the clothes started.


But the body is deeper than the soul and its secrets inscrutable.


Works of art, in my opinion, are the only objects in the material universe to possess internal order, and that is why, though I don’t believe that only art matters, I do believe in Art for Art’s sake.


To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art.


If you introduce the human figure you at once arouse either disgust or desire.


Long books, when read, are usually overpraised, because the reader wishes to convince others and himself that he has not wasted his time.


Why children?’ he asked. ‘Why always children? For love to end where it begins is far more beautiful, and Nature knows it.


I’m afraid that in nine cases out of ten Nature pulls one way and human nature another.


I believed in a return to Nature once. But how can we return to Nature when we have never been with her? Today, I believe that we must discover Nature. After many conquests we shall attain simplicity. It is our heritage.


An acquaintance had become a lover, might become a husband, but would retain all that she had noted in the acquaintance; and love must confirm an old relation rather than reveal a new one.


No; look out for the part where you think you have done with the goblins and they come back,’ breathed Helen, as the music started with a goblin walking quietly over the universe, from end to end.


While her lips talked culture, her heart was planning to invite him to tea


Either life entails courage or it ceases to be life.


All a child’s life depends on the ideal it has of its parents. Destroy that and everything goes – morals, behavior, everything. Absolute trust in someone else is the essence of education.


I’d far rather leave a thought behind me than a child. Other people can have children.


I was determined that in fiction anyway two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever and ever that fiction allows.


We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.


As for her hair, or rather hairs, they are too complicated to describe, but one system went down her back, lying in a thick pad there, while another, created for a lighter destiny, rippled around her forehead.


You talk as if a god had made the Machine,” cried the other. “I believe that you pray to it when you are unhappy. Men made it, do not forget that. Great men, but men. The Machine is much, but not everything.


Night and day, wind and storm, tide and earthquake, impeded man no longer. He had harnessed Leviathan. All the old literature, with its praise of Nature, and its fear of Nature, rang false as the prattle of a child.


Human beings have their great chance in the novel.


Hardship is vanishing, but so is style, and the two are more closely connected than the present generation supposes.


It is the starved imagination, not the well-nourished, that is afraid.


He will work off his crudities in time. I rather mistrust young men who slip into life gracefully.


Men were not gods after all, but as human and as clumsy as girls.


The issues Miss Quested had raised were so much more important than she was herself that people inevitably forgot her.


It is not rubbish! It is the part of people that you do not understand.


She grew more and more vexed with his dignified behavior. By a cruel irony, she was drawing out what was best in his disposition.


As her time in Florence drew to a close she was only at ease amongst those to whom she felt indifferent.


Italy and London are the only places where I don’t feel to exist on sufferance.


He lived on, miserable and misunderstood, as before, and increasingly lonely. One cannot write those words too often: Maurice’s loneliness: it increased.


The past is devoid of meaning like the present, and a refuge for cowards.


I think everyone fails, but there are so many kinds of failure.


Standing each by his monster, they looked at each other, and smiled


There are different ways of evil and I prefer mine to yours.


Only a writer who has the sense of evil can make goodness readable.


Vashti was seized with the terrors of direct experience. She shrank back into the room, and the wall closed up again.


The Machine is the friend of ideas and the enemy of superstition: the Machine is omnipotent, eternal; blessed is the Machine.


They had nothing in common but the English language, and tried by its help to express what neither of them understood.


How can I tell what I think till I see what I say?


A matter neither sensual nor sensational is ignored by the art of today.


The more highly public life is organized the lower does its morality sink.


Nothing ever happens to me, ” she reflected….. An older person at such an hour and in such a place might think that sufficient was happening to him, and rest content. Lucy desired more.


The armour of falsehood is subtly wrought out of darkness, and hides a man not only from others, but from his own soul.


But they did not chatter much, for the boy, when he liked a person, would as soon sit silent in his company as speak.


Love had failed. Love was an emotion through which you occasionally enjoyed yourself. it could not do things.


He was driven to use the prerogatives of his profession, to act the parson.


Humility is a quality for which I have only a limited admiration. In many phases of life it is a great mistake and degenerates into defensiveness and hypocrisy.


They chose to regard it as a miraculous preservation.


Then she lay on her back and gazed at the cloudless sky. Mr. Beebe, whose opinion of her rose daily, whispered to his niece that that was the proper way to behave if any little thing went wrong.


I swear from the bottom of my heart I want to be healed. I want to be like other men, not this outcast whom nobody wants.


Ladies sheltering behind men, men sheltering behind servants – the whole system’s wrong, and she must challenge it.


The Machine stops.””What do you say?””The Machine is stopping, I know it, I know the signs.”She burst into a peal of laugher.


We may still contrive to raise three cheers for democracy, although at present she only deserves two.


A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself.


I rather mistrust young men who slip into life gracefully.


When you come back you will not be you. And I may not be I.


Sensual and spiritual are not easy words to use; that there are, perhaps, not twoAphrodites, but one Aphrodite with a Janus face.


Oh, poor, poor fellow!’ said Mrs. Elliot with a remorse that was sincere, though her congratulations would not have been.


I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars.


He had no racial feeling—not because he was superior to his brother civilians, but because he had matured in a different atmosphere, where the herd instinct does not flourish.


Some reviews give pain. This is regrettable, but no author has the right to whine. He was not obliged to be an author. He invited publicity, and he must take the publicity that comes along.


For the dead, who seem to take away so much, really take with them nothing that is ours.


In every remark he found a meaning, but not always the true meaning, and his life, though vivid, was largely a dream.


Did you ever dream you had a friend, Alec? Someone to last your whole life and you his. I suppose such a thing can’t really happen outside sleep.


Naked I came into the world, naked I shall go out of it! And a very good thing too, for it reminds me that I am naked under my shirt, whatever its colour.


… And now we shan’t be parted no more, and that’s finished.


… and someone he scarcely knew moved towards him and knelt beside him and whispered, ‘Sir, was you calling out for me? … Sir, I know … I know,’ and touched him.


… I since cricket match do long to talk with one of my arms around you, then place both arms round you and share with you, the above now seems sweeter to me than words can say.


Mistrust all enterprises that require new clothes.


…But so few of us think clearly about our own private incomes, and admit that independent thoughts are in nine cases out of ten the result of independent means.


It is not difficult to stand above the conventions when we leave no hostages among them; men can always be more unconventional than women, and a bachelor of independent means need encounter no difficulties at all.


He lived to near the things he loved to seem poetical.


There’s never any great risk as long as you have money.


It comes to this then: there always have been people like me and always will be, and generally they have been persecuted.


Conse­quently the Wolfenden recommendations will be indefinitely rejected, police prosecutions will continue and Clive on the bench will continue to sentence Alec in the dock. Maurice may get off.


She was as bored as her brother would have been, and had not his gift of listening beneath words.


A friendliness, as of dwarfs shaking hands, was in the air…



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