[On his wife:]
I do not want to go back to the past, but you cannot have forgotten the circumstances under which we married. I think under these circumstances you should be very well satisfied if you get from your husband courtesy and consideration, kindness and affection; but really you cannot expect a passionate love. [...] I married you because I thought you loved me and I could not bear to think that in a life in which I did not find much to praise you should suffer for something which was innocent. I married you because I was prepared to pay for my folly and selfishness, and I married you because I thought it the best thing for your happiness and for Elizabeth's welfare, but I did not marry you because I loved you, and you were only too well aware of that. Why now should you torment me with reproaches that I do not love you? When you married me it was with your eyes open and you accepted that - it is something that I bitterly regret, I promise you, I wish with all my heart I loved you - and yet you treat me as though I had caused you a wilful injury.
I did everything I could for you and when I couldn't do what you wanted I do not feel I deserved the hard and cruel things you said to me. You want my affection and I have given it to you - you do not know how much - but you seem to have done all you could to kill it. Do you know that no one in all my life has said the things you have said to me? No one has ever complained of me and nagged me and harassed me as you have. How can you expect me to preserve my affection for you? You have terrorized me.
Syrie was an admirable hostess, amiable, lively and charming.
Syrie stayed in
for some weeks. She was bored. She had no resources in herself, but depended
upon others for her entertainment. Geneva
She was not interested in the sights of
. She was no reader.
Nor was she a needlewoman. The days seemed interminable. Rome
One evening when Syrie and I were spending the evening alone she surprised me by saying, ''It's funny that people say 'The Circle' is your best play. I wasn't very nice to you while you were writing it.'' She wasn't indeed. She would make me scenes that lasted till two or three in the morning, and I went to bed exhausted to get up in the morning to write amusing dialogue. One of Syrie's most frequent complaints was that she had no influence over me. In vain I protested that so far as I knew no one had any particular influence over me.
One day, out of a blue sky, she said to me, ''If you divorced me you wouldn't try to take my child from me, would you?'' She could not have told me more plainly that she had a lover. This did not surprise me since one of her bosom friends had already appraised me of the fact. In point of fact she had not one, but two, I knew both and had a very poor opinion of either. They didn't last long.
Some of Syrie's activities made me nervous. She was none too scrupulous in her dealings with customers. I was afraid she would get into trouble and I did not fancy the publicity that might ensue. I need not have worried. Syrie was prudent and on receiving a lawyer's letter would return the money that had been paid her and take back the fake that she had sold as an antique. Once she escaped prosecution only by hair's breadth.
Syrie's women friends, whether a kept woman or woman attached for long years to a man who either could not or would not marry her, were ever haunted by a sense of insecurity. Men were fickle. So long as a woman maintained her influence over him, which, when it came down to brass tacks, meant being able to persuade him to do something he didn't want to do, she was safe. Moreover, the influence she had gave her a pleasant sense of power mingled with a faint, good-humoured feeling of contempt for the man who could be so easily cajoled. But this is more guesswork and, I daresay, not very plausible.
[On his sharing everything with Walter Payne in their youth:]
He was very good-looking and had no difficulty in getting girls to go to bed with him and when he was through with them he passed them over to me. They were small-part actresses, shopgirls or clerks in an office. About one evening a week Walter would arrange to go out and the girl I was then friends with came and dined with me, after which we indulged in sexual congress. Later in the evening we dressed and went downstairs, I put her in a cab, paid the fare and made an appointment with her for the following week. There was no romance in it, no love, only appetite. On looking back, these experiences of mine seem dreadfully sordid, but after all, I was in my early twenties and my sexual proclivities demanded expression.
It was not till long after that it dawned upon me that the trouble these two men [Brooks and an unidentified American] took to keep me interested was due not to the fact that I listened to their conversation entranced nor to any kindness they may have felt for a lonely, ignorant boy of sixteen, but to their concupiscence. I was so innocent (after three years at a public school!) that it never entered my head that they should want anything more from me than my company. If they made advances to me my blank incomprehension must have utterly baffled them.
[On memorial service:]
The relict of the defunct arranges with the parson who is to conduct the service what the cost will be. Letters are written to friends and acquaintances begging them to attend. A reporter is seated at the church door and take their names as they come in. Space has been bought in the Times so that next day their names shall be printed, and such is the passion for publicity that sways our world today that those who for some reason - absence from London, a more important engagement or merely indifference - have not attended take care that, notwithstanding, their names shall not be omitted. If the church is crowded, if the street is blocked with the cars that have brought the persons invited, the service may be reckoned a success. It is in fact just as much a social occasion as a cocktail party; it is moreover less expensive and gets more publicity. The luncheon parties that follow have a peculiar savour. Those present, as they sip their dry Martinis, cannot help feeling a certain complacency because they are still alive.
[On one alternative scenario of his life:]
Then with a scholarship I should in due course have gone up to
as my brothers had done. It is just possible that I might have been elected to
a fellowship, and in that case, though with my stammer I could not have been of
much use as a tutor or a lecturer, I might, like Bradley, have passed the rest
of my life in the seclusion of college rooms.Though I could never have hoped to
write such a fascinating, tantalizing work as ''Appearance and Reality'', I
might have produced at discreet intervals a number of dull but learned books on
aspects of French literature and in due course have brought an uneventful life
to a decorous end. Cambridge
[On God, immortality and Christianity:]
I believe neither in the existence of God nor in the immortality of the soul. It is generally agreed by rationalists that though it is impossible to prove that God does not exist there are no good reasons to believe that he does. Nor are there good reasons to believe in the immortality of the soul. I for my part cannot understand how people can still believe in a transcendent God and in an afterlife. When one considers the vast extend of the expanding universe, with the millions of galaxies millions of light waves away from us, one can hardly fail to harbor the notion, paradoxical as it may seem, that there is no place for God in it. I look upon Christianity as a dying religion. [...] Christianity is incredible. I ask myself whether these Archbishops and Bishops really believe what they preach. They are presumably men of more than common intelligence or they wouldn't have risen to positions of importance. Do they really believe in the Virgin Birth, the miracles Jesus is claimed to have performed, and the Resurrection?
[On Gerald Haxton:]
His death was a bitter grief to me. We had gone through a great deal together. He had grave faults. He was a heavy drinker and a reckless gambler. He had great merits. He had immense vitality. He was fearless. He was always ready for an adventure and could turn his hand to anything, whether it was to persuade a stubborn car to behave reasonably or in the wilderness to cook a savory dinner. Once, in
when we were being rowed down the river, our boat was swamped by the tidal wave
which is called ''the bore'' and we were flung into the water. I was very
nearly drowned. Gerald saved my life. His gift for getting on friendly terms
with all sorts of people had been of inestimable use to me. But for him I
should not have got the material for many of the stories I wrote. At least on
one occasion he gave me story ready made.
[On “Footprints in the Jungle”:]
One evening I grew tired of waiting for Gerald, who was with a group of fellows drinking at the bar, and sat down to my dinner. I had nearly finished when he staggered in. “I know I’m drunk,” he said, “but I’ve got a damned good story for you.” He told it to me and I wrote it. I called it “Footprints in the Jungle”. I don't think I can have written it very well; it was a murder story and when it was printed some critics found fault with it because it was very soon obvious who had committed the murder. But I was not trying to write a who-done-it. What interested me was something very different. The woman and her lover had killed her husband, but the crime could never be brought home to them. Though the members of the community, planters, traders, agents, doctors - and their wives - were well aware of the facts, they continued to live on the best of terms with the widow and her lover. They married and, in short, lived happily ever afterwards. I came to know and found them very agreeable. They were kindly and hospitable. I was pretty sure that they had never been troubled by remorse; it was impossible not to like them, for they were very nice. Human nature is very odd.
[On "Why I Am Not a Christian":]
[On "Why I Am Not a Christian":]