Quotes from Bridge of Birds

Barry Hughart ·  278 pages

Rating: (8.6K votes)


“Error can point the way to truth, while empty-headedness can only lead to more empty-headedness or to a career in politics.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“Fable has strong shoulders that carry far more truth than fact can.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“The supernatural can be very annoying until one finds the key that transforms it into science," he observed mildly... "Come on, Ox, let's go out and get killed.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“The emotional health of a village depended upon having a man whom everyone loved to hate, and Heaven had blessed us with two of them.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“'O great and mighty Master Li, pray impart to me the Secret of Wisdom!' he bawled.

'Take a large bowl,' I said. 'Fill it with equal measures of fact, fantasy, history, mythology, science, superstition, logic, and lunacy. Darken the mixture with bitter tears, brighten it with howls of laughter, toss in three thousand years of civilization, bellow kan pei — which means "dry cup" — and drink to the dregs.'

Procopius stared at me. 'And I will be wise?' he asked.

'Better,' I said. 'You will be Chinese.'”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds



“Blessed are the idiots, for they are happiest people on earth.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“'Immortality is only for the gods,' he whispered. 'I wonder how they can stand it.'”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“Don't be ashamed of reliving your childhood, Ox, because all of us must do it now and then to maintain our sanity.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“...the problem with poetic justice is that it never knows when to stop.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“Master Li, how are we going to murder a man who laughs at axes?" I asked.

We are going to experiment, dear boy. Our first order of business will be to find a deranged alchemist, which should not be very difficult. China," said Master Li, "is overstocked with deranged alchemists.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds



“Mystery and terror are the bulwarks of tyranny.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“....Master Li turned bright red while he scorched the air with the Sixty Sequential Sacrileges with which he had won the all-China Freestyle Blasphemy Competition in Hangchow three years in a row.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“I shall clasp my hands together and bow to the corners of the world.
May your villages remain ignorant of tax collectors, and may your sons be many and ugly and strong and willing workers, and may your daughters be few and beautiful and excellent providers of love gifts from eminent families that live very far away, and may your lives be blessed by the beauty that has touched mine.
Farewell.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“everybody knows that the soul of a cat is formed from the composite souls of nine debauched nuns who failed in their vows.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“Boy, just look at the soul shining through my eyes! It’s like a goddamned flower!”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds



“Coge un cuenco grande, dije. Llénalo con medidas iguales de hechos, fantasías, historia, mitología, ciencia, superstición, lógica y locura. Oscurece la mezcla con lágrimas amargas, aclárala con carcajadas, viértele tres mil años de civilización, grita kan pei, que significa "copa seca", y bébela hasta las heces."
Propocio me clavó los ojos. "¿Y seré sabio?", preguntó.
"Mejor que eso", le respondí. "Serás chino.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“I have decided that the problem with poetic justice is that it never knows when to stop.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“...the emotional health of a village depended upon having a man whom everyone hated.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“Key Rabbit, allow me to bore you with a comparison of your wife and a beautiful woman," I said. "In the morning a beauty must lie in bed for three or four hours gathering strength for another mighty battle with Nature. Then, after being bathed and toweled by her maids, she loosens her hair in the Cascade of Teasing Willows Style, paints her eyebrows in the Distant Mountain Range Style, anoints herself with the Nine Bends of the River Diving-water Perfume, applies rouge, mascara, and eye shadow, and covers the whole works with a good two inches of the Powder of the Nonchalant Approach. Then she dresses in a plum-blossom patterned tunic with matching skirt and stockings, adds four or five pounds of jewelry, looks in the mirror for any visible sign of humanity and is relieved to find none, checks her makeup to be sure that it has hardened into an immovable mask, sprinkles herself with the Hundred Ingredients Perfume of the Heavenly Spirits who Descended in the Rain Shower, and minces with tiny steps toward the new day. Which, like any other day, will consist of gossip and giggles.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“Nothing on the face of this earth - and I do mean nothing - is half so dangerous as a children's story that happens to be real, and you and I are wandering blindfolded through a myth devised by a maniac.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds



“Nothing on the face of this earth - and I do mean nothing - is half so dangerous as a children's story that happens to be real...”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“Immortality is a meaningless word unless invulnerability goes with it.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“...Men cannot come any closer to immortality without going insane.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


“Alas, great is my sorrow. Your name is Ah Chen, and when you were born I was not truly pleased. I am a farmer, and a farmer needs strong sons to help with his work, but before a year had passed you had stolen my heart. You grew more teeth, and you grew daily in wisdom, and you said 'Mommy' and 'Daddy' and your pronunciation was perfect. When you were three you would knock at the door and then you would run back and ask, 'Who is it?' When you were four your uncle came to visit and you played the host. Lifting your cup, you said, 'Ching!' and we roared with laughter and you blushed and covered your face with your hands, but I know that you thought yourself very clever. Now they tell me that I must try to forget you, but it is hard to forget you.

"You carried a toy basket. You sat at a low stool to eat porridge. You repeated the Great Learning and bowed to Buddha. You played at guessing games, and romped around the house. You were very brave, and when you fell and cut your knee you did not cry because you did not think it was right. When you picked up fruit or rice, you always looked at people's faces to see if it was all right before putting it in your mouth, and you were careful not to tear your clothes.

"Ah Chen, do you remember how worried we were when the flood broke our dikes and the sickness killed our pigs? Then the Duke of Ch'in raised our taxes and I was sent to plead with him, and I made him believe that we could not pay out taxes. Peasants who cannot pay taxes are useless to dukes, so he sent his soldiers to destroy our village, and thus it was the foolishness of your father that led to your death. Now you have gone to Hell to be judged, and I know that you must be very frightened, but you must try not to cry or make loud noises because it is not like being at home with your own people.

"Ah Chen, do you remember Auntie Yang, the midwife? She was also killed, and she was very fond of you. She had no little girls of her own, so it is alright for you to try and find her, and to offer her your hand and ask her to take care of you. When you come before the Yama Kings, you should clasp your hands together and plead to them: 'I am young and I am innocent. I was born in a poor family, and I was content with scanty meals. I was never wilfully careless of my shoes and my clothing, and I never wasted a grain of rice. If evil spirits bully me, may thou protect me.' You should put it just that way, and I am sure that the Yama Kings will protect you.

"Ah Chen, I have soup for you and I will burn paper money for you to use, and the priest is writing down this prayer that I will send to you. If you hear my prayer, will you come to see me in your dreams? If fate so wills that you must yet lead an earthly life, I pray that you will come again to your mother's womb. Meanwhile I will cry, 'Ah Chen, your father is here!' I can but weep for you, and call your name.”
― Barry Hughart, quote from Bridge of Birds


About the author

Barry Hughart
Born place: in Peoria, Illinois, The United States
Born date March 13, 1934
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“Tarik reappeared from room 104 carrying a soft-sided blue travel bag, large enough to hold a week’s worth of clothes, small enough to fit in an airplane’s overhead bin.”
― quote from The Faithful Spy


“In truth, I don't want to be there. I don't want to see the light go out of my brother's eyes.”
― Lurlene McDaniel, quote from Breathless


“Are you aware, Mr Mayor, then when casually scrying the streets of London, you stand out like a giraffe on roller skates, yes?”
― Kate Griffin, quote from The Neon Court


“What will they say about my poetry
who never touched my blood?

Que diran de mi poesia
los que no tocaron mi sangre?”
― Pablo Neruda, quote from The Book of Questions


“It was a little insulting to admit that a drooling dolt like Coulter might be right about something, but after all, Isaac Newton didn’t reject gravity just because the apple had a low IQ.”
― Jeff Lindsay, quote from Dexter By Design


Interesting books

Batman: Arkham Asylum - A Serious House on Serious Earth
(51.1K)
Batman: Arkham Asylu...
by Grant Morrison
My Most Excellent Year
(7.1K)
My Most Excellent Ye...
by Steve Kluger
Desires of the Dead
(22K)
Desires of the Dead
by Kimberly Derting
Animal Liberation
(5.3K)
Animal Liberation
by Peter Singer
Remarkable Creatures
(35.5K)
Remarkable Creatures
by Tracy Chevalier
My Uncle Oswald
(8.6K)
My Uncle Oswald
by Roald Dahl

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2023, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.