V. S. Pritchett Quotes

Short stories can be rather stark and bare unless you put in the right details. Details make stories human, and the more human a story can be, the better.

I am under the spell of language, which has ruled me since I was 10.

The present has its élan because it is always on the edge of the unknown and one misunderstands the past unless one remembers that this unknown was once part of its nature.

A short story is. . .frequently the celebration of character at bursting point.

It’s all in the art. You get no credit for living.

The difference between farce and humour in literature is, I suppose, that farce strums louder and louder on one string, while humour varies its note, changes its key, grows and spreads and deepens until it may indeed reach tragic depths.

I felt the beginning of a passion, hopeless in the long run, but very nourishing, for identifying myself with people who were not my own, and whose lives were governed by ideas alien to mine.

How extraordinary it is that one feels most guilt about the sins one is unable to commit.

Life — how curious is that habit that makes us think it is not here, but elsewhere.

The mark of genius is an incessant activity of mind. Genius is a spiritual greed.

Sooner or later, the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing.

All writers – all people – have their stores of private and family legends which lie like a collection of half-forgotten, often violent toys on the floor of memory.

Writing enlarges the landscape of the mind.

We are used to the actions of human beings, not to their stillness.

The profoundly humorous writers are humorous because they are responsive to the hopeless, uncouth, concatenations of life.

The novel…creates a bemusing effect. The short story, on the other hand wakes the reader up. Not only that, it answers the primitive craving for art, the wit, paradox and beauty of shape, the longing to see a dramatic pattern and significance in our experience.

It is well known that, when two authors meet, they at once start talking about money-like everyone else.

It is often said that in Ireland there is an excess of genius unsustained by talent; but there is talent in the tongues.

Those mausoleums of inactive masculinity are places for men who prefer armchairs to women.

[London] is sentimental and tolerant. The attitude to foreigners is like the attitude to dogs: Dogs are neither human nor British, but so long as you keep them under control, give them their exercise, feed them, pat them, you will find their wild emotions are amusing, and their characters interesting.

Now, practically all reviewers have academic aspirations. The people from the universities are used to a captive audience, but the literary journalist has to please his audience.

The detective novel is the art-for-art’s-sake of our yawning Philistinism, the classic example of a specialized form of art removed from contact with the life it pretends to build on.

Among the masked dandies of Edwardian comedy, Max Beerbohm is the most happily armored by a deep and almost innocent love of himself as a work of art.

A touch of science, even bogus science, gives an edge to the superstitious tale.

[London is] like the sight of a heavy sea from a rowing boat in the middle of the Atlantic…. One lives in it, afloat but half submerged in a heavy flood of brick, stone, asphalt, slate, steel, glass, concrete, and tarmac, seeing nothing fixable beyond a few score white spires that splash up like spits of foam above the next glum wave of dirty buildings.