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E. M. Forster quotes (89)

A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself.
E. M. Forster   Category: Poetry

America is rather like life. You can usually find in it what you look for. It will probably be interesting, and it is sure to be large.
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At night, when the curtains are drawn and the fire flickers, my books attain a collective dignity.
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At the side of the everlasting why, is a yes, and a yes, and a yes.
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Be soft, even if you stand to get squashed.
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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.
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Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is the most sublime noise that has ever penetrated into the ear of man.
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But nothing in India is identifiable, the mere asking of a question causes it to disappear or to merge in something else.
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Charm, in most men and nearly all women, is a decoration.
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Creative writers are always greater than the causes that they represent.
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Death destroys a man, but the idea of death saves him.
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Either life entails courage, or it ceases to be life.
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England has always been disinclined to accept human nature.
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Faith, to my mind, is a stiffening process, a sort of mental starch.
E. M. Forster   Category: Faith

For our vanity is such that we hold our own characters immutable, and we are slow to acknowledge that they have changed, even for the better.
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History develops, art stands still.
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How can I know what I think till I see what I say?
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I am certainly an ought and not a must.
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I am so used to seeing the sort of play which deals with one man and two women. They do not leave me with the feeling I have made a full theatrical meal they do not give me the experience of the multiplicity of life.
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I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars.
E. M. Forster   Category: Mom

I distrust Great Men. They produce a desert of uniformity around them and often a pool of blood too, and I always feel a little man's pleasure when they come a cropper.
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I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.
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I have no mystic faith in the people. I have in the individual.
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I have only got down on to paper, really, three types of people: the person I think I am, the people who irritate me, and the people I'd like to be.
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I never could get on with representative individuals but people who existed on their own account and with whom it might therefore be possible to be friends.
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I'm a holy man minus the holiness.
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Ideas are fatal to caste.
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If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.
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If there is on earth a house with many mansions, it is the house of words.
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It is my fate and perhaps my temperament to sign agreements with fools.
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It is the vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness.
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Letters have to pass two tests before they can be classed as good: they must express the personality both of the writer and of the recipient.
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Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice.
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Liking one person is an extra reason for liking another.
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Logic! Good gracious! What rubbish!
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Love and understand the Italians, for the people are more marvellous than the land.
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Love is always being given where it is not required.
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Most quarrels are inevitable at the time; incredible afterwards.
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No man can be an agnostic who has a sense of humour.
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No one is India.
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Nonsense and beauty have close connections.
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One always tends to overpraise a long book, because one has got through it.
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One is certain of nothing but the truth of one's own emotions.
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One marvels why the middle classes still insist on so much discomfort for their children at such expense to themselves.
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One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life.
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One of the evils of money is that it tempts us to look at it rather than at the things that it buys.
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Only a struggle twists sentimentality and lust together into love.
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Only a writer who has the sense of evil can make goodness readable.
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Only people who have been allowed to practise freedom can have the grown-up look in their eyes.
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Oxford is Oxford: not a mere receptacle for youth, like Cambridge. Perhaps it wants its inmates to love it rather than to love one another.
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Paganism is infectious, more infectious than diphtheria or piety.
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People have their own deaths as well as their own lives, and even if there is nothing beyond death, we shall differ in our nothingness.
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Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return.
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Reverence is fatal to literature.
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So, two cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism.
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Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.
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Surely the only sound foundation for a civilization is a sound state of mind.
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The English countryside, its growth and its destruction, is a genuine and tragic theme.
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The fact is we can only love what we know personally. And we cannot know much. In public affairs, in the rebuilding of civilization, something less dramatic and emotional is needed, namely tolerance.
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The final test for a novel will be our affection for it, as it is the test of our friends, and of anything else which we cannot define.
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The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.
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The historian must have some conception of how men who are not historians behave. Otherwise he will move in a world of the dead. He can only gain that conception through personal experience, and he can only use his personal experiences when he is a genius.
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The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died, and then queen died of grief is a plot.
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The main facts in human life are five: birth, food, sleep, love and death.
E. M. Forster   Category: Life

The more highly public life is organized the lower does its morality sink.
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The only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.
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The people I respect most behave as if they were immortal and as if society was eternal.
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The sadness of the incomplete, the sadness that is often Life, but should never be Art.
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The sort of poetry I seek resides in objects man can't touch.
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The woman who can't influence her husband to vote the way she wants ought to be ashamed of herself.
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