Quotes from Saturday

Ian McEwan ·  289 pages

Rating: (52K votes)


“You can tell a lot from a person's nails. When a life starts to unravel, they're among the first to go.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“There's a taste in the air, sweet and vaguely antiseptic, that reminds him of his teenage years in these streets, and of a general state of longing, a hunger for life to begin that from this distance seems like happiness.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“There are these rare moments when musicians together touch something sweeter than they've ever found before in rehearsals or performance, beyond the merely collaborative or technically proficient, when their expression becomes as easy and graceful as friendship or love. This is when they give us a glimpse of what we might be, of our best selves, and of an impossible world in which you give everything to others, but lose nothing of yourself.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“The world should take note: not everything is getting worse.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“When anything can happen, everything matters.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday



“When there are no consequences, being wrong is simply a diversion.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“The luxury of being half-asleep, exploring the fringes of psychosis in safety.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“He never believed in fate or providence, or the future being made by someone in the sky. Instead, at every instant, a trillion trillion possible futures; the pickiness of pure chance and physical laws seemed like freedom from the scheming of a gloomy god.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“When we go on about the big things, the political situation, global warming, world poverty, it all looks really terrible, with nothing getting better, nothing to look forward to. But when I think small, closer in-you know, a girl I've just met, or this song we'regoing to do with Chas, or snowboarding next month, then it looks great. So this is going to be my motto - think small.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“He saw that no one owned anything really. It's all rented, or borrowed. Our possessions will outlast us, we'll desert them in the end.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday



“This commonplace cycle of falling asleep and waking, in darkness, under private cover, with another creature, a pale soft tender mammal, putting faces together in a ritual of affection, briefly settled in the eternal necessities of warmth, comfort, safety, crossing limbs to draw nearer - a simple daily consolation, almost too obvious, easy to forget by daylight.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“There are these rare moments when musicians together touch something sweeter than they've ever found before in rehearsals or performance, beyond the merely collaborative or technically proficient, when their expression becomes as easy and graceful as friendship or love. This is when they give us a glimpse of what we might be, of our best selves, and of an impossible world in which you give everything you have to others, but lose nothing of yourself. Out in the real world there exist detailed plans, visionary projects for peaceable realms, all conflicts resolved, happiness for everyone, for ever – mirages for which people are prepared to die and kill. Christ's kingdom on earth, the workers' paradise, the ideal Islamic state. But only in music, and only on rare occasions, does the curtain actually lift on this dream of community, and it's tantalisingly conjured, before fading away with the last notes.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“It troubles him to consider the powerful currents and fine-tuning that alter fate, the close and distant influences, the accidents of character and circumstance.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“He's feeling a pull, like gravity, of the approaching TV news. It's a condition of the times, this compulsion to hear how it stands with the world, and be joined to the generality, to a community of anxiety. The habit's grown stronger these past two years; a different scale of news value has been set by monstrous and spectacular scenes. [...] Everyone fears it, but there's also a darker longing in the collective mind, a sickening for self-punishment and a blasphemous curiosity. Just as the hospitals have their crisis plans, so the television networks stand ready to deliver, and their audiences wait. Bigger, grosser next time. Please don't let it happen. But let me see it all the same, as it's happening and from every angle, and let me be among the first to know.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“He's never quite got the trick of conversation, tending to hear in dissenting views, however mild, a kind of affront, an invitation to mortal combat.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday



“Could it ever be explained, how matter becomes conscious?”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“What a stroke of luck, that the woman he loves is also his wife.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“Especially difficult when the first and best unconscious move of a dedicated liar is to persuade himself he's sincere. And once he's sincere, all deception vanishes.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“But to do its noticing and judging, poetry balances itself on the pinprick of the moment. Slowing down, stopping yourself completely, to read and understand a poem is like trying to acquire an old-fashioned skill....”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“Who could ever reckon up the damage done to love and friendship and all hopes of happiness by a surfeit or depletion of this or that neurotransmitter? And who will ever find a morality, an ethics down among the enzymes and amino acids when the general taste is for looking in the other direction?”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday



“Henry liked to put to himself when he was a schoolboy: what are the chances of this particular fish, from that shoal, off that continental shelf ending up in the pages of this copy of the Daily Mirror? Something just short of infinity to one. Similarly, the grains of sand on a beach, arranged just so. The random ordering of the world, the unimaginable odds against any particular condition, still please him. Even as a child, and especially after Aberfan, he never believed in fate or providence, or the future being made by someone in the sky. Instead, at every instant, a trillion trillion possible futures; the pickiness of pure chance and physical laws seemed like freedom from the scheming of a gloomy god.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“It's the essence of a degenerating mind periodically, to lose all sense of continuous self, and therefore any regard for what others think of your lack of continuity.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“Sex is a different medium, refracting time and sense, a biological hyperspace as remote from conscious existence as dreams, or as water is from air”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“This is the pain-pleasure of having newly adult children; they're innocent and ruthless in forgetting their sweet old dependence.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“This is the pre-verbal language that linguists call Mentalese. Hardly a language, more a matrix of shifting patterns, consolidating and compressing meaning in fractions of a second, and blending it inseparably with its distinctive emotional hue. ... So that when a flash of red streaks in across his left peripheral vision ... it already has the quality of an idea ... unexpected and dangerous, but entirely his, and not of the world beyond himself.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday



“The primitive thinking of the supernaturally inclined amounts to what his psychiatric colleagues call a problem, or an idea, of reference. An excess of the subjective, the ordering of the world in line with your needs, an inability to contemplate your own unimportance. In Henry’s view such reasoning belongs on a spectrum at whose far end, rearing like an abandoned temple, lies psychosis.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“It's at moments like these in a game that the essentials of his character are exposed: narrow, ineffectual, stupid—and morally so. The game becomes an extended metaphor of character defect. Every error he makes is so profoundly, so irritatingly typical of himself, instantly familiar, like a signature, like a tissue scar or some deformation in a private place.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“It's hilarious to recognize how completely another person resembles your imperfect self.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“Sex is a different medium, refracting time and sense, a biological hyperspace as remote from conscious existence as dreams, or as water is from air. As his mother used to say, another element; the day is changed, Henry, when you take a swim. And that day is bound to be marked out from all the rest.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday


“Standing here, as immune to the cold as a marble statue, gazing towards Charlotte Street, towards a foreshortened jumble of façades, scaffolding and pitched roofs, Henry thinks the city is a success, a brilliant invention, a biological masterpiece--millions teeming around the accumulated and layered achievements of the centuries, as though around a coral reef, sleeping, working, entertaining themselves, harmonious for the most part, nearly everyone wanting it to work. And the Perownes own corner, a triumph of congruent proportion; the perfect square laid out by Robert Adam enclosing a perfect circle of garden--an eighteenth century dream bathed and embraced by modernity, by street light from above, and from below by fibre-optic cables, and cool fresh water coursing down pipes, and sewage borne away in an instant of forgetting.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Saturday



About the author

Ian McEwan
Born place: in Aldershot, England, The United Kingdom
Born date June 21, 1948
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