Literary Quotations
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WILLIAM FAULKNER QUOTES


Light in August (1932)

A man. All men. He will pass up a hundred chances to do good for one chance to meddle where meddling is not wanted. He will overlook and fail to see chances, opportunities, for riches and fame and welldoing, and even sometimes for evil. But he won't fail to see a chance to meddle.

--Chapter 1

Man knows so little about his fellows. In his eyes all men or women act upon what he believes would motivate him if he were mad enough to do what that other man or woman is doing.

--Chapter 2

A fellow is more afraid of the trouble he might have than he ever is of the trouble he’s already got. He’ll cling to trouble he’s used to before he’ll risk a change.

--Chapter 3

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.

--Chapter 6

Then he rose, deliberately. Perhaps the boy knew that he already held the strap in his hand. It rose and fell, deliberate, numbered, with deliberate, flat reports. The boy's body might have been wood or stone; a post or a tower upon which the sentient part of him mused like a hermit, contemplative and remote with ecstasy and selfcrucifixion.

--Chapter 7

Love in the young requires as little of hope as of desire to feed upon.

--Chapter 8

It seems impossible for a man to learn the value of money without first having to learn to waste it.

--Chapter 8

That night they talked. They lay in the bed, in the dark, talking. Or he talked, that is. All the time he was thinking 'Jesus. Jesus. So this is it.' He lay naked too, beside her, touching her with his hand and talking about her. Not about where she had come from and what she had even done, but about her body as if no one had ever done this before, with her or with anyone else. It was as if with speech he were learning about women's bodies, with the curiosity of a child.

--Chapter 8

Knowing not grieving remembers a thousand savage and lonely streets.

--Chapter 10

Like the cat, he also seemed to see in the darkness as he moved as unerringly toward the food which he wanted as if he knew where it would be; that, or were being manipulated by an agent which did know. He ate something from an invisible dish, with invisible fingers: invisible food. He did not care what it would be. He did not know that he had even wondered or tasted until his jaw stopped suddenly in mid-chewing and thinking fled for twentyfive years back down the street, past all the imperceptible corners of bitter defeats and more bitter victories, and five miles even beyond a corner where he used to wait in the terrible early time of love, for someone whose name he had forgot.

--Chapter 10

Sometimes he would have to seek her about the dark house until he found her, hidden, in closets, in empty rooms, waiting, panting, her eyes in the dark glowing like the eyes of cats. Now and then she appointed trysts beneath certain shrubs about the grounds, where he would find her naked, or with her clothing half torn to ribbons upon her, in the wild throes of nymphomania, her body gleaming ... She would be wild then, in the close, breathing halfdark without walls, with her wild hair, each strand of which would seem to come alive like octopus tentacles, and her wild hands and her breathing.

--Chapter 12

He stayed, watching the two creatures that struggled drowning in alternate throes upon the surface of a black thick pool beneath the last moon.

--Chapter 12

There is a price for being good the same as for being bad; a cost to pay. And it’s the good men that can't deny the bill when it comes around. . . . The bad men can deny it; that’s why dont anybody expect them to pay on sight or any other time. . . . Maybe it takes longer to pay for being good than for being bad.

--Chapter 16

I tell you, they were not men after spoils and glory: they were boys riding the sheer tremendous wave of desperate living. Boys. Because this. This is beautiful. Listen. Try to see it. Here is that fine shape of eternal youth and virginal desire that makes heroes. That makes the doings of heroes border so close upon the unbelievable that it is no wonder that their doings must emerge now and then like gun flashes in the smoke, and that their physical passing becomes rumor with a thousand faces before breath is out of them, lest paradoxical truth outrage itself.

--Chapter 20

The Sound and the Fury (1929)

No battle is ever won.... They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.

A man is the sum of his misfortunes.

Clocks slay time. Time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.

You're not a poor baby. Are you. Are you. You've got your Caddy. Haven't you got your Caddy.

They aint no luck going be on no place where one of they own chillen's name aint never spoke.

There was something terrible in me sometimes at night I could see it grinning at me I could see it through them grinning at me through their faces it's gone now and I'm sick.

Purity is a negative state and therefore contrary to nature.

I could not be a virgin, with so many of them walking along in the shadows and whispering with their soft girl voices lingering in the shadowy places and the words coming out and perfume and eyes you could feel not see, but if it was that simple to do it wouldn't be anything and if it wasn't anything, what was I?

Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say.

I'm bad and I'm going to hell, and I don't care. I'd rather be in hell than anywhere where you are.

I never promise a woman anything nor let her know what I'm going to give her. That's the only way to manage them. Always keep them guessing. If you cant think of any other way to surprise them, give them a bust in the jaw.

She had been a big woman once but now her skeleton rose, draped loosely in unpadded skin that tightened again upon a paunch almost dropsical, as though muscle and tissue had been courage or fortitude which the days or the years had consumed until only the indomitable skeleton was left rising like a ruin or a landmark above the somnolent and impervious guts.

I seed de beginnin, en now I sees de endin.