Quotes from Henderson the Rain King

Saul Bellow ·  341 pages

Rating: (12.5K votes)


“We are funny creatures. We don't see the stars as they are, so why do we love them? They are not small gold objects, but endless fire.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“I am a true adorer of life, and if I can't reach as high as the face of it, I plant my kiss somewhere lower down. Those who understand will require no further explanation.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“All human accomplishment has this same origin, identically. Imagination is a force of nature. Is this not enough to make a person full of ecstasy? Imagination, imagination, imagination! It converts to actual. It sustains, it alters, it redeems!”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“But privately when things got very bad I often looked into books to see whether I could find some helpful words, and one day I read, "The forgiveness of sins is perpetual and righteousness first is not required." This impressed me so deeply that I went around saying it to myself. But then I forgot which book it was.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“Brother raises a hand against brother and son against father (how terrible!) and the father also against son. And moreover it is a continuity-matter, for if the father did not strike the son, they would not be alike. It is done to perpetuate similarity. Oh, Henderson, man cannot keep still under the blows.... A hit B? B hit C?--we have not enough alphabet to cover the condition. A brave man will try to make the evil stop with him. He shall keep the blow. No man shall get it from him, and that is a sublime ambition.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King



“In the history of the world many souls have been, are, and will be, and with a little reflection this is marvelous and not depressing. Many jerks are made gloomy about it, for they think quantity buries them alive. That's just crazy. Numbers are very dangerous, but the main thing about them is that they humble your pride. And that's good.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“The hour that burst the spirit's sleep...”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“I am something of a crank about sleep, for if I get seven and a quarter hours instead of eight I feel afflicted and drag myself around, although there's nothing really wrong with me. It's just another idea. That's how it is with my ideas; they seem to get strong while I weaken.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“Of course, in an age of madness, to expect to be untouched by madness is a form of madness. But the pursuit of sanity can be a form of madness, too.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“You don't know the meaning of true love if you think it can be deliberately selected. You just love, that's all. A natural force, irresistible.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King



“...between human beings there are only two alternatives, either brotherhood or crime.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“Society is what beats me. Alone I can be pretty good, but let me go among people and there’s the devil to pay.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“Shall I run back into the desert ... and stay there until the devil has passed out of me and I am fit to meet human kind again without driving it to despair at the first look? I haven't had enough desert yet.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“I wish my dead days would quit bothering me and leave me alone. The bad stuff keeps coming back, and it's the worst rhythm there is. The repetition of a man's bad self, that's the worst suffering that's ever been known.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“But maybe time was invented so that misery might have an end. So that it shouldn't last forever? There may be something in this. And bliss, just the opposite, is eternal? There is no time in bliss. All the clocks were thrown out of heaven.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King



“And the process started over again. Once more it was, Who are you? And I had to confess that I didn't know where to begin.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“But privately when things got very bad I often looked into books to see whether I could find some helpful words, and one day I read, “The forgiveness of sins is perpetual and righteousness first is not required.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“Every twenty years or so the earth renews itself in young maidens. You know what I mean? Her cheeks had the perfect form that belongs to the young; her hair was kinky gold. Her teeth were white and posted on every approach. She was all sweet corn and milk. Blessings on her hips. Blessings on her thighs. Blessings on her soft little fingers which were somewhat covered by the cuffs of her uniform. Blessings on that rough gold. A wonderful little thing; her attitude was that of a pal or playmate, as is common with Midwestern young women”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“Some powerful magnificence not human in other words, seemed under me. And it was the same mild pink colour, like the water of a watermelon, that did it. At once I recognised the importance of this, as throughout my life I had known these moments when the dumb begin to speak, when I hear the voices of objects and colours; then the physical universe starts to wrinkle and change and heave and rise and smooth, so it seems even the dogs have to lean against a tree, shivering.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“Fantasia, fantasia, fantasia. Si trasforma in realtà. Essa sorregge, essa altera, essa redime!”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King



“And I dreamed down at the clouds, and thought that when I was a kid I had dreamed up at them, and having dreamed at the clouds from both sides as no other generation of men has done, one should be able to accept his death very easily.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“Io? Io amo la vecchia troia così com'è e mi piace pensare di esser pronto ad accogliere anche il peggio che essa abbia da offrirmi. Io veramente adoro la vita, e se non posso raggiungerla in faccia, lascio andare il mio bacio un poco più in basso.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“Well, what o you want?" I said. "I am the type of guy who couldn't survive without disfigurement. Life has worked me over. It wasn't just the war, either.... I got a bad wound, you know. But the shots of life..." I gave myself a bang on the breast. "Right here! You know what I mean, King?”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“And I prayed and prayed, ‘Oh, you…Something,’ I said, ‘you Something because of whom there is not Nothing. Help me to do Thy will. Take off my stupid sins. Untrammel me. Heavenly Father, open up my dumb heart and for Christ’s sake preserve me from unreal things. Oh, Thou who tookest me from pigs, let me not be killed over lions. And forgive my crimes and nonsense and let me return to Lily and the kids.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“The earth is a huge ball which nothing holds up in space except its own motion and magnetism, and we conscious things who occupy it believe we have to move too, in our own space. We can't allow ourselves to lie down and not to do our share and imitate the greater entity.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King



“It's wasted on dummies." (Life is). "They give it to dummies and fools.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“The way grew more and more stony and this made me suspicious. If we were approaching a town we ought by now to have found a path. Instead there were these jumbled white stones that looked as if they had been combed out by an ignorant hand from the elements that make least sense. There must be stupid portions of heaven, too, and these had rolled straight down from it. I am no geologist but the word calcareous seemed to fit them. They were composed of lime and my guess was that they must have originated in a body of water. Now they were ultra-dry but filled with little caves from which cooler air was exhaled—ideal places for a siesta in the heat of noon, provided no snakes came. But the sun was in decline, trumpeting downward. The cave mouths were open and there was this coarse and clumsy gnarled white stone.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“Again! It was like the question asked by Tennyson about the flower in the crannied wall. That is, to answer it might involve the history of the universe.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“My soul is like a pawn shop. I mean it's filled with unredeemed pleasures, old clarinets, and cameras, and motheaten fur.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King


“More of fear than of any other thing has been created.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from Henderson the Rain King



About the author

Saul Bellow
Born place: in Lachine, Quebec, Canada
Born date June 10, 1915
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