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GRAHAM GREENE QUOTES

English author and literary critic (1904-1991)

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Power and the Glory

Innocence always calls mutely for protection when we would be so much wiser to guard ourselves against it: innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Quiet American

They are always saying God loves us. If that's love I'd rather have a bit of kindness.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Captain and the Enemy

A single feat of daring can alter the whole conception of what is possible.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Heart of the Matter

Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Spectator, Apr. 18, 1981

One never knows enough about characters in real life to put them into novels. One gets started and then, suddenly, one can not remember what toothpaste they use; what are their views on interior decoration, and one is stuck utterly. No, major characters emerge; minor ones may be photographed.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Paris Review, autumn, 1953

A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment from which to look back or from which to look ahead.

GRAHAM GREENE, The End of the Affair

Unfortunately the innocent are always involved in any conflict. Always, everywhere, there is some voice crying from a tower.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Quiet American

Our heroes are simple: they are brave, they tell the truth, they are good swordsmen and they are never in the long run really defeated. That is why no later books satisfy us like those which were read to us in childhood—for those promised a world of great simplicity of which we knew the rules, but the later books are complicated and contradictory with experience; they are formed out of our own disappointing memories.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Ministry of Fear

Of two hearts one is always warm and one is always cold: the cold heart is more precious than diamonds: the warm heart has no value and is thrown away.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Heart of the Matter

As long as nothing happens anything is possible.

GRAHAM GREENE, Our Man in Havana

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.

GRAHAM GREENE, Ways of Escape

I measured love by the extent of my jealousy.

GRAHAM GREENE, The End of the Affair

It isn't being happy together ... that makes one love--it's being unhappy together.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Ministry of Fear

Those who marry God can become domesticated too—it’s just as hum-drum a marriage as all the others. The word “Love” means a formal touch of the lips as in the ceremony of the Mass, and “Ave Maria” like “dearest” is a phrase to open a letter. This marriage like the world’s marriages was held together by habits and tastes shared in common between God and themselves—it was God’s taste to be worshipped and their taste to worship, but only at stated hours like a suburban embrace on a Saturday night.

GRAHAM GREENE, A Burnt-Out Case

To be in love is to see yourself as someone else sees you, it is to be in love with the falsified and exalted image of yourself. In love we are incapable of honour — the courageous act is no more than playing a part to an audience of two.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Quiet American

I have often noticed that a bribe has that effect -- it changes a relation. The man who offers a bribe gives away a little of his own importance; the bribe once accepted, he becomes the inferior, like a man who has paid for a woman.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Comedians

Hate is a lack of imagination.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Power and the Glory

The hands of the guilty don't necessarily tremble; only in stories does a dropped glass betray agitation. Tension is more often shown in the studied action.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Third Man

Like some wines our love could neither mature nor travel.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Comedians

My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.

GRAHAM GREENE, International Herald Tribune, Oct. 7, 1977

Success is more dangerous than failure, the ripples break over a wider coastline.

GRAHAM GREENE, London Independent, Apr. 4, 1991

Morality comes with the sad wisdom of age, when the sense of curiosity has withered.

GRAHAM GREENE, A Sort of Life

A ruling passion gives to a shelf of novels the unity of a system.

GRAHAM GREENE, Conversations with Graham Greene

Most things disappoint till you look deeper.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Comedians

However great a man's fear of life, suicide remains the courageous act, the clear-headed act of a mathematician. The suicide has judged by the laws of chance—so many odds against one that to live will be more miserable than to die. His sense of mathematics is greater than his sense of survival. But think how a sense of survival must clamour to be heard at the last moment, what excuses it must present of a totally unscientific nature.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Comedians

Melodrama is one of my working tools and it enables me to obtain effects that would be unobtainable otherwise; on the other hand I am not deliberately melodramatic; don't get too annoyed if I say that I write in the way that I do because I am what I am.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Paris Review, autumn 1953

God ... created a number of possibilities in case some of his prototypes failed — that is the meaning of evolution.

GRAHAM GREENE, Travels with My Aunt

If two people loved, they slept together; it was a mathematical formula, tested and proved by human experience.

GRAHAM GREENE, The End of the Affair

In our hearts there is a ruthless dictator, ready to contemplate the misery of a thousand strangers if it will ensure the happiness of the few we love.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Heart of the Matter

It's strange how the human mind swings back and forth, from one extreme to another. Does truth lie at some point of the pendulum's swing, at a point where it never rests, not in the dull prependicular mean where it dangles in the end like a windless flag, but at an angle, nearer one extreme than another? If only a miracle could stop the pendulum at an angle of sixty degrees, one would believe the truth was there.

GRAHAM GREENE, The End of the Affair

Would the world be in the mess it is if we were loyal to love and not to countries?

GRAHAM GREENE, Our Man in Havana

Death was far more certain than God.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Quiet American

Its typical of Mexico, of the whole human race perhaps — violence in favour of an ideal and then the ideal lost but the violence just going on.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Lawless Roads

One's life is more formed, I sometimes think, by books than by human beings: it is out of books one learns about love and pain at second hand. Even if we have the happy chance to fall in love, it is because we have been conditioned by what we have read, and if I had never known love at all, perhaps it was because my father's library had not contained the right books.

GRAHAM GREENE, Travels with My Aunt

Point me out the happy man and I will point you out either extreme egotism, selfishness, evil -- or else an absolute ignorance.

GRAHAM GREENE, The Heart of the Matter

If you have abandoned one faith, do not abandon all faith. There is always an alternative to the faith we lose. Or is it the same faith under another mask?

GRAHAM GREENE, The Comedians


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