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W. Somerset Maugham Quotes

When you are young you take the kindness people show you as your right. 
W. Somerset Maugham (Cakes and Ale - Chapter 12, 1930)
There's always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 71, 1915)
No egoism is so insufferable as that of the Christian with regard to his soul.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writer's Notebook, 1901)
When you're eighteen your emotions are violent, but they're not durable.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
It is cruel to discover one's mediocrity only when it is too late.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 51, 1915)
It is unsafe to take your reader for more of a fool than he is.
W. Somerset Maugham (Ten Novels and Their Authors, 1954)
A mother only does her children harm if she makes them the only concern of her life.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
The tragedy of love is indifference.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Trembling of a Leaf, 1921)
You can do anything in this world if you are prepared to take the consequences.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Circle)
Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 39, 1915)
A God that can be understood is no God. Who can explain the Infinite in words?
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
Men seek but one thing in life - their pleasure.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 45, 1915)
Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up, 1938)
The love that lasts the longest is the love that is never returned.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writer's Notebook, 1892)
Do you know that conversation is one of the greatest pleasures in life? But it wants leisure.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Trembling of a Leaf, 1921)
At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writers Notebook)
Tolerance is only another name for indifference.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writers Notebook, 1896)
Religion is a conspiracy of priests to gain control over the people.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
Often the best way to overcome desire is to satisfy it.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
Life isn't long enough for love and art.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Moon and Sixpence - Chapter 21, 1919)
We know our friends by their defects rather than by their merits.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 39, 1915)
Love is what happens to a man and woman who don't know each other.
W. Somerset Maugham
There is no object to life. To nature nothing matters but the continuation of the species.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writers Notebook, 1896)
If a man hasn't what's necessary to make a woman love him, it's his fault, not hers.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil, 1925)
The great tragedy of life is not that men perish, but that they cease to love.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up, 1938)
In art honesty is not only the best but the only policy. 
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
What mean and cruel things men can do for the love of God.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writers Notebook, 1901)
Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up, 1938)
I don't think of the past. The only thing that matters is the everlasting present.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Moon and Sixpence - Chapter 21, 1919)
Follow your inclinations with due regard to the policeman round the corner.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 53, 1915)
You know, there are two good things in life, freedom of thought and freedom of action.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 23, 1915)
I always find it more difficult to say the things I mean than the things I don't.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil, 1925)
People ask you for criticism, but they only want praise.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 50, 1915)
Wounded vanity can make a woman more vindictive that a lioness robbed of her cubs.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil, 1925)
The dead look so terribly dead when they're dead.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
If you don't change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?
W. Somerset Maugham
Writing is the supreme solace. 
W. Somerset Maugham
You are not angry with people when you laugh at them. Humor teaches tolerance.
W. Somerset Maugham
The fact that a great many people believe something is no guarantee of its truth.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit…
W. Somerset Maugham (The Creative Impulse, 1926)
You know what the critics are. If you tell the truth they only say you're cynical and it does an author no good to get a reputation for cynicism.
W. Somerset Maugham (Cakes and Ale - Chapter 11, 1930)
When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for me, and it becomes part of me.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 67, 1915)
For if the proper study of mankind is man, it is evidently more sensible to occupy yourself with the coherent, substantial and significant creatures of fiction than with the irrational and shadowy figures of real life.
W. Somerset Maugham (Cakes and Ale - Chapter 16, 1930)
It's no use crying over spilt milk, because all of the forces of the universe were bent on spilling it.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 68, 1915)
We who are of mature age seldom suspect how unmercifully and yet with what insight the very young judge us.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
It's no good trying to keep up old friendships. It's painful for both sides. The fact is, one grows out of people, and the only thing is to face it.
W. Somerset Maugham (Cakes and Ale, 1930)
Habits in writing as in life are only useful if they are broken as soon as they cease to be advantageous.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up - Chapter 48, 1938)
The average American can get into the kingdom of heaven much more easily than he can get into the Boulevard St. Germain.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
D'you call life a bad job? Never! We've had our ups and downs, we've had our struggles, we've always been poor, but it's been worth it, ay, worth it a hundred times I say when I look round at my children.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 108, 1915)
It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Moon and Sixpence - Chapter 17, 1919)
Common-sense appears to be only another name for the thoughtlessness of the unthinking. It is made of the prejudices of childhood, the idiosyncrasies of individual character and the opinion of the newspapers.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writer's Notebook, 1901)
If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.
W. Somerset Maugham (Strictly Personal, 1941)
If nobody spoke unless he had something to say, the human race would very soon lose the use of speech.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil, 1925)
There is only one way to win hearts and that is to make oneself like unto those of whom one would be loved.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil, 1925)
The crown of literature is poetry. It is its end and aim. It is the sublimest activity of the human mind. It is the achievement of beauty and delicacy. The writer of prose can only step aside when the poet passes.
W. Somerset Maugham
The rain fell alike upon the just and upon the unjust, and for nothing was there a why and a wherefore.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 106, 1915)
Hypocrisy is the most difficult and nerve-racking vice that any man can pursue; it needs an unceasing vigilance and a rare detachment of spirit. It cannot, like adultery or gluttony, be practised at spare moments; it is a whole-time job.
W. Somerset Maugham (Cakes and Ale - Chapter 1, 1930)
Now the world in general doesn't know what to make of originality; it is startled out of its comfortable habits of thought, and its first reaction is one of anger.
W. Somerset Maugham (Great Novelists and Their Novels, 1948)
You know, my dear child, that one cannot find peace in work or in pleasure, in the world or in a convent, but only in one's soul.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil, 1925)
I do not confer praise or blame: I accept. I am the measure of all things. I am the centre of the world.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 45, 1915)
I have not been afraid of excess: excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up, 1938)
Few misfortunes can befall a boy which bring worse consequences than to have a really affectionate mother.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writers Notebook, 1896)
There was an immeasurable distance between the quick and the dead: they did not seem to belong to the same species; and it was strange to think that but a little while before they had spoken and moved and eaten and laughed.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 54, 1915)
Charm and nothing but charm at last grows a little tiresome. It's a relief then to deal with a man who isn't quite so delightful but a little more sincere.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil, 1925)
He did not care if she was heartless, vicious and vulgar, stupid and grasping, he loved her. He would rather have misery with one than happiness with the other.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage, 1915)
Unfortunately sometimes one can't do what one thinks is right without making someone else unhappy.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
One can be very much in love with a woman without wishing to spend the rest of one's life with her.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil, 1925)
I'll give you my opinion of the human race in a nutshell... their heart's in the right place, but their head is a thoroughly inefficient organ.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up, 1938)
If forty million people say a foolish thing it does not become a wise one, but the wise man is foolish to give them the lie.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writer's Notebook, 1901)
Conscience is the guardian in the individual of the rules which the community has evolved for its own preservation.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Moon and Sixpence - Chapter 14, 1919)
Beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger. There is really nothing to be said about it. It is like the perfume of a rose: you can smell it and that is all.
W. Somerset Maugham (Cakes and Ale - Chapter 11, 1930)
Now it is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best you very often get it…
W. Somerset Maugham (The Mixture As Before, 1940)
Men have an extraordinarily erroneous opinion of their position in nature; and the error is ineradicable.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writers Notebook, 1896)
There is no explanation for evil. It must be looked upon as a necessary part of the order of the universe. To ignore it is childish, to bewail it senseless.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up - Chapter 73, 1938)
What makes old age hard to bear is not the failing of one's faculties, mental and physical, but the burden of one's memories.
W. Somerset Maugham (Points of View, 1959)
She saw shrewdly that the world is quickly bored by the recital of misfortune, and willingly avoids the sight of distress.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Moon and Sixpence - Chapter 16, 1919)
Perfection is a trifle dull. It is not the least of life's ironies that this, which we all aim at, is better not quite achieved.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up, 1938)
Sometimes people carry to such perfection the mask they have assumed that in due course they actually become the person they seem.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Moon and Sixpence - Chapter 42, 1919)
Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 51, 1915)
I daresay one profits more by the mistakes one makes off one's own bat than by doing the right thing on somebody's else advice.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 52, 1915)
Oh, it's always the same,' she sighed, 'if you want men to behave well to you, you must be beastly to them; if you treat them decently they make you suffer for it.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage, 1915)
To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.
W. Somerset Maugham (Books and You, 1940)
The future will one day be the present and will seem as unimportant as the present does now.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up, 1938)
We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up, 1938)
Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.
W. Somerset Maugham (Quoted in Willie: The Life of W. Somerset Maugham, 1989)
Man has always sacrificed truth to his vanity, comfort and advantage.  He lives... by make-believe.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up, 1938)
A woman can forgive a man for the harm he does her...but she can never forgive him for the sacrifices he makes on her account.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Moon and Sixpence - Chapter 41, 1919)
I made up my mind long ago that life was too short to do anything for myself that I could pay others to do for me.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writers Notebook, 1941)
Art is merely the refuge which the ingenious have invented, when they were supplied with food and women, to escape the tediousness of life.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage, 1915)
As lovers, the difference between men and women is that women can love all day long, but men only at times.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Moon and Sixpence, 1919)
The artist produces for the liberation of his soul. It is his nature to create as it is the nature of water to run down the hill.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up, 1938)
How can I be reasonable? To me our love was everything and you were my whole life. It is not very pleasant to realize that to you it was only an episode.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil, 1925)
You learn more quickly under the guidance of experienced teachers. You waste a lot of time going down blind alleys if you have no one to lead you.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
I can imagine no more comfortable frame of mind for the conduct of life than a humorous resignation.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writer's Notebook)
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one's dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank, and independent.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 51, 1915)
Life wouldn't be worth living if I worried over the future as well as the present. When things are at their worst I find something always happens.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 66, 1915)
It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched, for they are full of the truthless ideals which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real they are bruised and wounded.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage - Chapter 29, 1915)
The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic, and self- complacent is erroneous; on the contrary, it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant, and kind. Failure makes people cruel and bitter.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up - Chapter 48, 1938)
When I look back on my life…it seems to me strangely lacking in reality.
It may be that my heart, having found rest nowhere, had some deep ancestral craving for God and immortality which my reason would have no truck with.
W. Somerset Maugham (Quoted in The Chicago Daily News, 1964)
There can be nothing so gratifying to an author as to arouse the respect and esteem of the reader. Make him laugh and he will think you a trivial fellow, but bore him in the right way and your reputation is assured.
W. Somerset Maugham (Gentleman in the Parlour - Chapter 11, 1930)
What has influenced my life more than any other single thing has been my stammer. Had I not stammered I would probably ... have gone to Cambridge as my brothers did, perhaps have become a don and every now and then published a dreary book about French literature.
W. Somerset Maugham (Quoted in Newsweek, 1960)
Nothing in the world is permanent, and we're foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we're still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
Perhaps the most important use of money - It saves time. Life is so short, and there's so much to do, one can't afford to waste a minute; and just think how much you waste, for instance, in walking from place to place instead of going by bus and in going by bus instead of by taxi.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
I do not believe they are right who say that the defects of famous men should be ignored. I think it is better that we should know them. Then, though we are conscious of having faults as glaring as theirs, we can believe that that is no hindrance to our achieving also something of their virtues.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up, 1938)
It was one of the queer things of life that you saw a person every day for months and were so intimate with him that you could not imagine existence without him; then separation came, and everything went on in the same way, and the companion who had seemed essential proved unnecessary.
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage, 1915)
Remember that it is nothing to do your duty, that is demanded of you and is no more meritorious than to wash your hands when they are dirty; the only thing that counts is the love of duty; when love and duty are one, then grace is in you and you will enjoy a happiness which passes all understanding.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil, 1925)
He did not live, he observed life from a window, and too often was inclined to content himself with no more than what his friends told him they saw when they looked out of a window.... In the end the point of Henry James is neither his artistry nor his seriousness, but his personality, and this was curious and charming and a trifle absurd.
W. Somerset Maugham (A Writers Notebook, 1937)
I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil, 1925)
People do tell a writer things that they don't tell others. I don't know why, unless it is that having read one or two of his books they feel on peculiarly intimate terms with him; or it may be that they dramatize themselves and, seeing themselves as it were as characters in a novel, are ready to be as open with him as they imagine the characters of his invention are.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
The complete life, the perfect pattern, includes old age as well as youth and maturity. The beauty of the morning and the radiance of noon are good, but it would be a very silly person who drew the curtains and turned on the light in order to shut out the tranquillity of the evening. Old age has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less than the pleasures of youth.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Summing Up - Chapter 73, 1938)
You Europeans know nothing about America. Because we amass large fortunes you think we care for nothing but money. We are nothing for it; the moment we have it we spend it, sometimes well, sometimes ill, but we spend it. Money is nothing to us; it's merely the symbol of success. We are the greatest idealists in the world; I happen to think that we've set our ideal on the wrong objects; I happen to think that the greatest ideal man can set before himself is self-perfection. 
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
It is very difficult to know people and I don't think one can ever really know any but one's own countrymen. For men and women are not only themselves; they are also the region in which they are born, the city apartment or the farm in which they learnt to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives' tales they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they attended, the sports they followed, the poets they read, and the God they believed in. It is all these things that have made them what they are, and these are the things that you can't come to know by hearsay, you can only know them if you have lived them.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge, 1943)
The Door of Direct Experience: Empowering Book by Daniel Seeker on Amazon
W. Somerset Maugham Biography

Born: January 25, 1874
Died: December 16, 1965

William Somerset Maugham was an English playwright and writer. He was a very popular writer during his time. His most successful book is widely regarded to be "Of Human Bondage"

Notable Works
The Magician (1908)
Of Human Bondage
(1915)
The Moon and the Sixpence (1919)
The Painted Veil
(1925)
The Summing Up
(1938)
The Razor's Edge
(1943)
A Writer's Notebook
(1946)
Signature

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