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17+ quotes from Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron

Quotes from Lie Down in Darkness

William Styron ·  400 pages

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“I thought there's something to be said for honor in this world where there doesn't seem to be any honor left. I thought that maybe happiness wasn't really anything more than the knowledge of a life well spent, in spite of whatever immediate discomfort you had to undergo, and that if a life well spent meant compromises and conciliations and reconciliations, and suffering at the hands of the person you love, well then better that than live without honor.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“Which is worse, past or future? Neither. I will fold up my mind like a leaf and drift on this stream over the brink. Which will be soon, and then the dark, and then be done with this ugliness...”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“Maybe that’s the key to happiness—being sort of dumb, not wanting to know any of the answers.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“He was made uneasy by unbraked hilarity and by extremes of sorrow alike, especially the latter; he preferred life to sail along pleasantly and evenly, and this, he knew, was for him a minor sort of tragedy. ”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“Perhaps, he thought, if I only think of this second, this moment, the train won't come at all. Think of the water, think of now.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“Oh, Daddy, I don’t know what’s wrong. I’ve tried to grow up—to be a good little girl, as you would say, but everywhere I turn I seem to walk deeper and deeper into some terrible despair. What’s wrong, Daddy? What’s wrong? Why is happiness such a precious thing? What have we done with our lives so that everywhere we turn—no matter how hard we try not to—we cause other people sorrow?”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“At the age of fifty he was beginning to discover, with a sense of panic, that his whole life had been in the nature of a hangover, with faintly unpleasant pleasures being atoned for by the dull unalleviated pain of guilt. Had he the solace of knowing that he was an alcoholic, things would have been brighter, because he had read somewhere that alcoholism was a disease; but he was not, he assured himself, alcoholic, only self-indulgent, and his disease, whatever it was, resided in shadier corners of his soul—where decisions were reached not through reason but by rationalization, and where a thin membranous growth of selfishness always seemed to prevent his decent motives from becoming happy actions.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“Oh, I would say, you’ve never understood me, Harry, that not out of vengeance have I accomplished all my sins but because something has always been close to dying in my soul, and I’ve sinned only in order to lie down in darkness and find, somewhere in the net of dreams, a new father, a new home.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“Through some happy accident of heredity he had escaped his father's tediousness, while retaining a little of his mother's jolly high spirits and humor. This did not make him anything special, but at least he was good-natured.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“Hell, they’d say in the country club locker room, you know how Milt’s getting his. Everybody knew, bearing testimony to the fact that suburban vice, like a peeling nose, is almost impossible to conceal. It went all over town, this talk, like a swarm of bees, settling down lazily on polite afternoon sun porches to rise once more and settle down again with a busy murmur among cautious ladylike foursomes on the golf course, buzzing pleasurably there amid ladylike whacks of the golf ball and cautious pullings-down of panties which bound too tightly. Everybody knew about their affair and everybody talked about it, and because of some haunting inborn squeamishness it would not have relieved Loftis to know that nobody particularly cared.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“Remember. Oh, remember. How remember moments of forgotten time? Where is the way now (she wondered) through that dark up-spreading wood? Leaf, locust, sunlight in the hollow, all those she had known, all had fled like years. Now silence sounds where no light falls, and she has lost the way.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“They had begun just lately—rumors about the Loftises, rumors about “another woman,” whisperings which disturbed him not so much because they concerned the Loftises—whom he didn’t know too well, in any case—but because they upset his notions about the prevalence of human decency.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“There was a time,” he said softly, “when I thought I’d found some kind of answer. God, we go through life fooling ourselves, thinking we’ve got the answer, only it’s never the answer really. I thought that being without Maudie would mean something to us. And it did, just for a while. It brought us together. I even stopped drinking. I broke down. I said to hell with this other kind of life. I thought there’s something to be said for honor in this world where there doesn’t seem to be any honor left. I thought that maybe happiness wasn’t really anything more than the knowledge of a life well spent, in spite of whatever immediate discomfort you had to undergo, and that if a life well spent meant compromises and conciliations and reconciliations, and suffering at the hands of the person you love, well then better that than live without honor.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“The grief is coming now, she said to herself: He’s beginning to know what suffering is. Perhaps that’s good in a way. Even he. Perhaps that’s good for a man—finally to know what suffering is, to know what a woman somehow knows almost from the day she’s born.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“You hate men, you’ve hated Daddy for years, and the sad thing is that he hasn’t known it. And the terrible thing is that you hate yourself so much that you just don’t hate men or Daddy but you hate everything, animal, vegetable and mineral.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“Most people in the midst of disaster have yet one hope that lingers on some misty horizon—the possibility of love, money coming, the assurance that time cures all hurts, no matter how painful. But Loftis, gazing out at the meadow, had no such assurance; his deposit, it seemed, on all of life’s happiness had been withdrawn in full and his heart had shriveled within him like a collapsed balloon.”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


“I don’t know what to say.” “Don’t try,” she said, sighing. “Oh, it’s so hot!” And thought, Indeed if I consider Charlottesville that will be all. Which is worse, past or future? Neither. I will fold up my mind like a leaf and drift on this stream over the Brink. Which will be soon, and then the dark, and then be done with this ugliness …”
― William Styron, quote from Lie Down in Darkness


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About the author

William Styron
Born place: in Newport News, Virginia, The United States
Born date June 11, 1925
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