Iris Murdoch
Quotations


A good man often appears gauche simply because he does not take advantage of the myriad mean little chances of making himself look stylish. Preferring truth to form, he is not constantly at work upon the façade of his appearance.

Art is the final cunning of the human soul which would rather do anything than face the gods.

Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved.

Perhaps misguided moral passion is better than confused indifference.

The priesthood is a marriage. People often start by falling in love, and they go on for years without realizing that that love must change into some other love which is so unlike it that it can hardly be recognised as love at all.

A bad review is even less important than whether it is raining in Patagonia.

But fantasy kills imagination, pornography is death to art.

Being good is just a matter of temperament in the end.

Happiness is a matter of one’s most ordinary everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self. To be damned is for one’s ordinary everyday mode of consciousness to be unremitting agonising preoccupation with self.

Human affairs are not serious, but they have to be taken seriously.

No love is entirely without worth, even when the frivolous calls to the frivolous and the base to the base.

Falling out of love is chiefly a matter of forgetting how charming someone is.

Every man needs two women, a quiet home-maker, and a thrilling nymph.

In almost every marriage there is a selfish and an unselfish partner. A pattern is set up and soon becomes inflexible, of one person always making the demands and one person always giving way.

In philosophy if you aren’t moving at a snail’s pace you aren’t moving at all.

Philosophy! Empty thinking by ignorant conceited men who think they can digest without eating!

We shall be better prepared for the future if we see how terrible, how doomed the present is.

The sin of pride may be a small or a great thing in someone’s life, and hurt vanity a passing pinprick, or a self-destroying or ever murderous obsession.

There is no substitute for the comfort supplied by the utterly taken-for-granted relationship.

He . . . was a sociologist; he had got into an intellectual muddle early on in life and never managed to get out.

The notion that one will not survive a particular catastrophe is, in general terms, a comfort since it is equivalent to abolishing the catastrophe.

You cannot have both truth and what you call civilisation.

Possibly, more people kill themselves and others out of hurt vanity than out of envy, jealousy, malice or desire for revenge.

All art is a struggle to be, in a particular sort of way, virtuous.

I think being a woman is like being Irish. . . . Everyone says you’re important and nice, but you take second place all the same.

Perhaps when distant people on other planets pick up some wave-length of ours all they hear is a continuous scream.

I daresay anything can be made holy by being sincerely worshipped.

Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one’s luck.



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