Evelyn Waugh /1903-1966/ was an English writer of novels, biographies and travel books. He was also a prolific journalist and reviewer of books.
His most famous works include the early satires Decline and Falland A Handful of Dust, the novel Brideshead Revisitedand the Second World War trilogy Sword of Honour.
Waugh is recognized as one of the great prose stylists of the English language in the 20th century… Here are some of his greatest quotes:
Manners are especially the need of the plain. The pretty can get away with anything.
An artist must be a reactionary. He has to stand out against the tenor of the age and not go flopping along.
All this fuss about sleeping together. For physical pleasure I’d sooner go to my dentist any day.
Your actions, and your action alone, determines your worth.
It is a curious thing… that every creed promises a paradise which will be absolutely uninhabitable for anyone of civilized taste.
We cherish our friends not for their ability to amuse us, but for ours to amuse them.
What a man enjoys about a woman’s clothes are his fantasies of how she would look without them.
News is what a chap who doesn’t care much about anything wants to read. And it’s only news until he’s read it. After that it’s dead.
Don’t hold your parents up to contempt. After all, you are their son, and it is just possible that you may take after them.
Perhaps host and guest is really the happiest relation for father and son.
The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a Heaven that it shows itself cloddish.
It doesn’t matter what people call you unless they call you pigeon pie and eat you up.
Punctuality is the virtue of the bored.
I think to be oversensitive about cliches is like being oversensitive about table manners.
When we argue for our limitations, we get to keep them.
Almost all crime is due to the repressed desire for aesthetic expression.
It is no longer possible to accept the benefits of civilization and at the same time deny the supernatural basis upon which it is based.
If politicians and scientist were lazier, how much happier we should all be.
Civilization – and by this I do not mean talking cinemas and tinned food, nor even surgery and hygienic houses, but the whole moral and artistic organization of Europe – has not in itself the power of survival. It came into being through Christianity, and without it has no significance or power to command allegiance … It is no longer possible, as it was in the time of Gibbon, to accept the benefits of civilization and at the same time deny the supernatural basis on which it rests … Christianity … is in greater need of combative strength than it has been for centuries.
I’ve always been bad. Probably I shall be bad again, punished again. But the worse I am, the more I need God. I can’t shut myself out from His mercy. … Or it may be a private bargain between me and God, that if I give up this one thing I want so much, however bad I am, He won’t quite despair of me in the end.
One can write, think and pray exclusively of others; dreams are all egocentric.
All fates are ‘worse than death’.
Suffering is none the less acute and much more lasting when it is put into words.
There is no ordinary run of mankind, there are only individuals who are totally different. And whether a man is naked and black and stands on one foot in Sudan or is clothed in some kind of costume in a bus in England, they are still individuals of entirely different characters.
No one is ever holy without suffering.
There’s only one great evil in the world today. Despair.
If a thing’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well.
Pray always for all the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not be quite forgotten at the throne of God when the simple come into their kingdom.
To know and love another human being is the root of all wisdom.