W. Somerset Maugham Quotes

Most popular W. Somerset Maugham Quotes

Impropriety is the soul of wit.
— W. Somerset Maugham Hamlet

humor wit

Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.

tradition

Genius is talent provided with ideals.
— W. Somerset Maugham
Life isn't long enough for love and art.
— W. Somerset Maugham
People seek but one thing in life — their pleasure.
— W. Somerset Maugham
The writer is more concerned to know than to judge.
— W. Somerset Maugham
The ideal has many names, and beauty is but one of them.

beauty ideal

The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.
— W. Somerset Maugham
Art for art's sake makes no more sense than gin for gin's sake.
— W. Somerset Maugham

art

It is well to remember that grammar is common speech formulated.

grammar

Love is what happens to men and women who don't know each other.
— W. Somerset Maugham

cynical love

When you are young you take the kindness people show you as your right.

kindness

Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing his mind.

changing people

Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind.

weakness

It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it.
— W. Somerset Maugham
You are not angry with people when you laugh at them. Humor teaches tolerance.
— W. Somerset Maugham

humor

The great tragedy of life is not that men perish, but that they cease to love.
— W. Somerset Maugham
Self-control might be as passionate and as active as the surrender to passion.

self-control

She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit.
— W. Somerset Maugham

quotations

Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species.
— W. Somerset Maugham

cynical love

You can do anything in this world if you are prepared to take the consequences.
— W. Somerset Maugham

motivational

Money is like a sixth sense — and you can't make use of the other five without it.
— W. Somerset Maugham
Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.

artists

Art, unless it leads to right action, is no more than the opium of an intelligentsia.

art

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
— W. Somerset Maugham

writing advice

Music-hall songs provide the dull with wit, just as proverbs provide them with wisdom.

songs

Common sense and nature will do a lot to make the pilgrimage of life not too difficult.
— W. Somerset Maugham
Just as the painter thinks with his brush and paints the novelist thinks with his story.

novelists

They should always be stirred so that the molecules lie sensuously on top of one another.

martini

A good style should show no sign of effort.  What is written should seem a happy accident.

style

Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five.

money

At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.
— W. Somerset Maugham

food

The author always loads his dice, but he must never let the reader see that he has done so.

authors

When you choose your friends, don't be short-changed by choosing personality over character.
— W. Somerset Maugham

character friendship

It is well known that Beauty does not look with a good grace on the timid advances of Humor.

beauty humor

Do you know that conversation is one of the greatest pleasures in life? But it wants leisure.
— W. Somerset Maugham
Old age has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less than the pleasures of youth.
— W. Somerset Maugham

old age

It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.
— W. Somerset Maugham

excellence negotiation

The world is quickly bored by the recital of misfortune, and willingly avoids the sight of distress.
— W. Somerset Maugham

adversity

He had heard people speak contemptuously of money: he wondered if they had ever tried to do without it.
— W. Somerset Maugham

money

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of habit.

moderation

Excess on occasion is exhilarating.  It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of habit.

excess

Men have an extraordinarily erroneous opinion of their position in nature; and the error is ineradicable.

self-deception

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.
— W. Somerset Maugham

excess moderation

The crown of literature is poetry.  It is its end and aim.  It is the sublimest activity of the human mind.

poetry

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.

reading

Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.

imagination

American women expect to find in their husbands a perfection that English women only hope to find in their butlers.
— W. Somerset Maugham

America England

There is only one thing about which I am certain, and this is that there is very little about which one can be certain.

certainty

You can't learn too soon that the most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency.

principles

The subjunctive mood is in its death throes, and the best thing to do is to put it out of its misery as soon as possible.

grammar

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 artist produces for the liberation of his soul.  It is his nature to create as it is the nature of water to run down hill.

artists

It has amazed me that the most incongruous traits should exist in the same person and, for all that, yield a plausible harmony.
— W. Somerset Maugham
Art...is merely the refuge which the ingenious have invented, when they were supplied with food and women, to escape the tediousness of life.

art

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

relationships

My own belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.
— W. Somerset Maugham

sex

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

friendship

It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.

suffering

It is not for nothing that artists have called their works the children of their brains and likened the pains of production to the pains of childbirth.

writing

She plunged into a sea of platitudes, and with the powerful breast stroke of a channel swimmer made her confident way towards the white cliffs of the obvious.
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.

comfort freedom

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

freedom

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.
— W. Somerset Maugham

success

I refuse to make a hierarchy of human actions and ascribe worthiness to some and ill-repute to others. The terms vice and virtue have no significance for me. I do not confer praise or blame: I accept.
— W. Somerset Maugham

vice virtue

From the earliest times the old have rubbed it into the young that they are wiser than they, and before the young had discovered what nonsense this was they were old too, and it profited them to carry on the imposture.

youth & age

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.

failure success success & failure

The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistical and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary, it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant and kind. Failure makes people bitter and cruel.
— W. Somerset Maugham

success

When I was young I was amazed at Plutarch's statement that the elder Cato began at the age of eighty to learn Greek.  I am amazed no longer.  Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long.

old age youth & age

If to look truth in the face and not resent it when it is unpalatable, and take human nature as you find it, smiling when it's absurd and grieved without exaggeration when it's pitiful, is to be cynical, then I suppose I'm a cynic.

cynicism

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 practiced at spare moments; it is a whole-time job.

hypocrisy

I promised myself that if I ever had some money that I would savor a cigar each day after lunch and after dinner. This is the only resolution of my youth that I have kept, and the only realized ambition which has not brought dissolution.
— W. Somerset Maugham

Cigar cigars personal

Each one of us is alone in the world.  He is shut in a tower of brass, and can communicate with his fellows only by signs, and the signs have no common value, so that their sense is vague and uncertain.  We seek pitifully to convey to others the treasures of our heart, but they have not the power to accept them, and so we go lonely, side by side but not together, unable to know our fellows and unknown by them.

communication