A Burnt-Out Case, Graham Greene

‘It occurred to the doctor that perhaps here too was a man under obedience, but not to any divine or civil authority, only to whatever wind might blow.’ -29

‘As usual there was no silence. Silence belonged to cities.’ -31

‘There are enough problems without sex I can assure you. St Paul wrote, didn’t he, that it was better to marry than burn.  Marie will stay young long enough to save me from the furnace. He added quickly, Of course I’m only joking. We have to joke, don’t we, about serious things. At the bottom of my heart I believe very profoundly in love. He made the claim as some men might claim to believe in fairies. -36

‘Men have prayed in prison, men have prayed in slums and concentration camps. It’s only the middle-classes who demand to pray in suitable surroundings.’ -45

‘The air in the hospital lay heavily and sweetly upon them: it was never moved by a fan or a breeze.’ -46

‘I haven’t enough feeling left for human beings to do anything for them out of pity.’ -50

‘It was as though he had had an appointment with hope at this turn of the road and had arrived just too late. -52

‘You have been trying an impossible experiment. A man can’t live with nothing but himself… Oh yes, he can. … Sooner or late he would kill himself …. If he had enough interest, Querry replied. -52

‘a man who cares for nothing finds it difficult-or absurd- to be angry. -53

‘the swelling diapason of the frogs. -53

‘But now that he cared for nothing, perhaps he was being driven only by a vestige of intellectual curiosity. -55

‘In any case he went on, while the mosquitoes droned to the attack. There was no point in waving them away. He trained himself to submit. -56

‘It must have been a long bad night.  (…)  One has had worse alone.  He seemed to be searching his memory for an example. Nights when things end. Those are the interminable nights. -57

‘I’ve known men rejoice when the feelings returns – even pain.  But you have to give pain a chance. – 75

‘It occurred to him that one could still feel the reflection of another’s pain when one had ceased to feel one’s own.-76

‘if your god wanted an adult world he should have given us an adult brain. -76

‘Remorse is a kind of belief. -76

‘One always tried not to repeat the same phrases, just as one tries to preserve some special position in the act of sex, but there are only thirty-two positions according to Aretine and there are less than that number of endearing words, and in the end most women reach their climax most easily in the commonest position of all and with the commonest phrase upon the tongue. It was only a question of time before I realized that I didn’t love at all. I’ve never really loved. I’d only accepted love. And then the worst boredom settled in.’ -113

‘Boredom is worse in comfort – 113

‘To build a church when you don’t believe in a god seems a little indecent, doesn’t it?’ -114

‘Has anyone ever seen a man smile at a woman as a woman smiles at the man she loves, fortuitously, at a bus-stop, in a railway carriage, at some chain-store in the middle of buying groceries, a smile so naturally joyful, without premeditation and without caution? The converse, of course, is probably true also. A man can never smile quite so falsely as the girl in a brother parlour. But the girl in the brother, Querry thought, is imitating something true. The man has nothing to imitate.’ – 118

‘Wouldn’t you rather suffer than feel discomfort? Discomfort irritates our ego like a mosquito-bite. We become aware of ourselves, the more uncomfortable we are, but suffering is quite a different matter. Sometimes I think that the search for suffering and the remembrance of suffering are the only means we have to put ourselves in touch with the whole human condition.’ -122

‘Unhappiness was like a hungry animal waiting beside the track for any victim.’ -149

‘There is a time in life when a man with a little acting ability is able to deceive even himself.’ -118

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