Robertson Davies Quotes

Most popular Robertson Davies Quotes

Biography at its best is a form of fiction.

biography fiction

Nothing is so easy to fake as the inner vision.


The love of truth lies at the root of much humor.

humor truth

Experience is wine, and art is the brandy we distill from it.


What we call luck is the inner man externalized.  We make things happen to us.


Whether you are really right or not doesn't matter; it's the belief that counts.
— Robertson Davies


Their very conservatism is secondhand, and they don't know what they are conserving.
— Robertson Davies


The dog is a Yes-animal, very popular with people who can't afford to keep a Yes-man.
— Robertson Davies


If we seek the pleasures of love, passion should be occasional, and common sense continual.
— Robertson Davies
Ah that blessed degree that stamps us for life as creatures of guaranteed intellectual worth.
As I once said of George Bernard Shaw, he bloomed at twenty, but nobody smelled him till he was forty.
Imagination is a good horse to carry you over the ground—not a flying carpet to set you free from probability.
— Robertson Davies

dreams imagination

Happiness is always a by-product.  It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular.


If you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.


To ask an author who hopes to be a serious writer if his work is autobiographical is like asking a spider where he buys his thread.
— Robertson Davies


Every man is wise when attacked by a mad dog; fewer when pursued by a mad woman; only the wisest survive when attacked by a mad notion.


If a man wants to be of the greatest possible value to his fellow-creatures, let him begin the long, solitary process of perfecting himself.

changing people

If you bring curiosity to your work it will cease to be merely a job and become a door through which you enter the best that life has to give you.


I think of an author as somebody who goes into the marketplace and puts down his rug and says, "I will tell you a story," and then he passes the hat.


Trollope is endlessly gripping, though it's rather crunchy granola: you chomp your way resolutely through it, and it's worth it because the story is so good.
To be apt in quotation is a splendid and dangerous gift.  Splendid, because it ornaments a man's speech with other men's jewels; dangerous, for the same reason.


A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.

reading books classics re-reading

When you're a novelist, you're writing a play but you're acting all the parts, you're controlling the lights and the scenery and the whole business, and it's your show.


I see Canada as a country torn between a very northern, rather extraordinary, mystical spirit which it fears and its desire to present itself to the world as a Scotch banker.


The result of a single action may spread like the circles that expand when a stone is thrown into a pond, until they touch places and people unguessed at by the person who threw the stone.


An author is like a horse pulling a coal-cart down an icy hill; he ought to stop, but when he reflects that it would probably kill him to try, he goes right on, neighing and rolling his eyes.


If you're a writer, a real writer, you're a descendant of those medieval storytellers who used to go into the square of a town and spread a little mat on the ground and sit on it and beat on a bowl and say, "If you give me a copper coin I will tell you a golden tale."


Pornography is a cheat. It is an attempt to provide sexual experience by secondhand means.  Now sex is a thing which has to be experienced firsthand, if you are really going to understand it, and pornography is rather like trying to find out about a Beethoven symphony by having somebody tell you about it and perhaps hum a few bars. It's not the same thing.