Quotes of Note

“I do not wish to be ungrateful to Holmes, who has been a good friend to me in many ways. If I have sometimes been inclined to weary of him it is because his character admits of no light or shade. He is a calculating machine and anything you add to that simply weakens the effect. . . . I would say a word for Watson also, who in the course of seven volumes never shows one gleam of humor or makes one single joke. To make a real character one must sacrifice everything to consistency and remember Goldsmith’s criticism of Johnson that, ‘he could make the little fishes talk like whales.’ ” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle commenting on his creations, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson

“Dr. Watson doesn’t write to you, he talks to you, with Edwardian courtesy, across a glowing fire. His voice has no barriers or affectations. It is clear, energetic and decent, the voice of a tweedy, no-nonsense colonial Britisher at ease with himself.  Its owner is travelled.  He has knocked about, as they say, browned his knees.  Yet he remains an innocent abroad.  He is a first-class chap, loyal to a fault, brave as a lion, and the salt of the earth.  All the clichés fit him.  But he is not a cliché.

“Finer feelings confuse Dr. Watson.  He is a stranger to art.  Yet, like his creator, he is one of the greatest story-tellers the world has ever listened to.  On the rare occasions he leaves the stage to Holmes, we long for him to return.  Holmes–mercurial, brilliant, complex, turbulent Holmes–is not safe out there alone.  Oh, he manages.  He can dissemble, go underground, disguise himself to the point where his own mother wouldn’t know him, he can act dead or dying, trawl opium dens, wrestle with Moriarty on a cliff’s edge, or dupe the Kaiser’s spy.  But none of that changes the fact that when he is alone, he is only half the fellow he becomes the moment faithful Watson takes back the tale.” – John Le Carré in the Introduction of Leslie S. Klinger’s two volume annotated collection of the stories of Sherlock Holmes

 “We open our mouths and out flow words whose ancestries we do not even know. We are walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse: we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard.” – Penelope Lively [not related to me, unfortunately], Moon Tiger

 “When asked how I would like to be remembered, I always say, for about five minutes.” – Actor Martin Sheen

“Make haste slowly” (“Festina lente”) – Ancient Adage

“Revenge is sweet and not fattening.” – Alfred Hitchcock

“The last person to say that to me was Archie Leach, just before I cut his throat.” – Cary Grant’s character in the 1940 film His Girl Friday [It’s an inside joke.  Grant was born Archibald Leach.]

“When a child turns 12, he should be kept in a barrel and fed through the bunghole, until he reaches 16…at which time you plug the bunghole.” – Mark Twain

“It broke her heart, and sent her to bed with a grievous headache, which I look upon as a triumphant success.” – Nathanial Hawthorne’s reaction to his wife’ distress after he read the conclusion of his book The Scarlet Letter to her

“I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.” – Woody Allen


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