Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Quotes: The Painted Veil (1925) by W. Somerset Maugham



Mrs. Garstin was a hard, cruel, managing, ambitious, parsimonious and stupid woman.

She had discovered very soon that he had an unhappy disability to lose himself. He was self-conscious. When there was a party and everyone started singing Walter could never bring himself to join in. He sat there smiling to show that he was pleased and amused, but his smile was forced; it was more like a sarcastic smirk, and you could not help feeling that he thought all those people enjoying themselves a pack of fools. He could not bring himself to play the round games which Kitty with her high spirits found such a lark. On their journey out to China he had absolutely refused to put on fancy dress when everyone else was wearing it. It disturbed her pleasure that he should so obviously think the whole thing a bore.

[Walter:]
''I had no illusions about you,'' he said. ''I knew you were silly and frivolous and empty-headed. But I loved you. I knew that your aims and ideals were vulgar and commonplace. But I loved you. I knew that you were second-rate. But I loved you. It's comic when I think how hard I tried to be amused by the things that amused you and how anxious I was to hide from you that I wasn't ignorant and vulgar and scandal-mongering and stupid. I knew how frightened you were of intelligence and I did everything I could to make you think me as big a fool as the rest of the men you knew. I knew that you'd only married me for convenience. I loved you so much, I didn't care. Most people, as far as I can see, when they're in love with someone and the love isn't returned feel that they have a grievance. They grow angry and bitter. I wasn't like that. I never expected you to love me, I didn't see any reason that you should, I never thought myself very lovable. I was thankful to be allowed to love you and I was enraptured when now and then I thought you were pleased with me or when I noticed in your eyes a gleam of good-humoured affection. I tried not to bore you with my love; I knew I couldn't afford to do that and I was always on the look-out for the first sign that you were impatient with my affection. What most husbands expect as a right I was prepared to receive as a favour.''

[Charlie:]
One can be very much in love with a woman without wishing to spend the rest of one's life with her.

[Charlie:]
Well, you know, women are often under the impression that men are much more madly in love with them than they really are.

[Waddington:]
''He made a science of popularity. He has the gift of making everyone he meets feel that he is the one person in the world he wants to see. He's always ready to do a service that isn't any trouble to himself and even if he doesn't do what you want he manages to give you the impression that it's only because it's not humanly possible.''
[...]
''Charm and nothing but charm at last grows a little tiresome, I think. It's a relief then to deal with a man who isn't quite so delightful but a little more sincere. I've known Charlie Townsend for a good many years and once or twice I've caught him with the mask off - you see, I never mattered, just a subordinate official in the customs - and I know that he doesn't in his heart give a damn for anyone in the world but himself.''
[...]
''Of course he'll get on. He knows all the official ropes. Before I die I have every belief that I shall address him as Your Excellency and stand up when he enters the room.''
[...]
''Ability? What nonsense! He's a very stupid man. He gives you the impression the he dashes off his work and gets it through from sheer brilliancy. Nothing of the kind. He's as industrious as Eurasian clerk.''
[...]
''There are many foolish people in the world and when a man in a rather high position puts on no frills, slaps them on the back, and tells them he'll do anything in the world for them, they are very likely to think him clever. And then, of course, there's his wife. There's an able woman if you like. She has a good sound head and her advice is always worth taking. As long as Charlie Townsend's got her to depend on he's pretty sure never to do a foolish thing, and that's the first thing necessary for a man to get on in Government service. They don't want clever men; clever men have ideas, and ideas cause trouble; they want men who have charm and tact and who can be counted on never to make a blunder. Oh, yes, Charlie Townsend will get to the top of the tree all right.''
[...]
''He has his little flirtations, but they're not serious. He's much too cunning to let go to such lengths as might cause him inconvenience. And of course he isn't a passionate man; he's only a vain one. He likes admiration.''

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