30+ quotes from The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow

Quotes from The Adventures of Augie March

Saul Bellow ·  586 pages

Rating: (14.5K votes)


“Boredom is the conviction that you can't change ... the shriek of unused capacities.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“I mean you have been disappointed in love, but don't you know how many things there are to be disappointed in besides love? You are lucky to be still disappointed in love. Later it may be even more terrible.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Some people, if they didn't make it hard for themselves, might fall asleep.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“I am an American, Chicago born – Chicago, that somber city – and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. But a man's character is his fate, says Heraclitus, and in the end there isn't any way to disguise the nature of the knocks by acoustical work on the door or gloving the knuckles.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Nobody asks you to love the whole world, only to be honest, ehrlich. Don't have a loud mouth. The more you love people the more they'll mix you up. A child loves, a person respects. Respect is better than love.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“How should I know why! I didn't invent human beings, Iggy.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Is love supposed to ruin you? It seems to me you shouldn't destroy yourself out of life for purposes of love--or what good is it?”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“As long as I could keep improving my mind, I figured, I was doing okay.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Guys like you make life easy for some women.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“And this is what mere humanity always does. It's made up of these inventors or artists, millions and millions of them, each in his own way trying to recruit other people to play a supporting role and sustain him in his make-believe. The great chiefs and leaders recruit the greatest number, and that's what their power is. There's one image that gets out in front to lead the rest and can impose its claim to being genuine with more force than others, or one voice enlarged to thunder is heard above the others. Then a huge invention, which is the invention maybe of the world itself, and of nature, becomes the actual world - with cities, factories, public buildings, railroads, armies, dams, prisons, and movies - becomes the actuality. That’s the struggle of humanity, to recruit others to your version of what’s real. Then even the flowers and the moss on the stones become the moss and the flowers of a version.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“External life being so mighty, the instruments so huge and terrible, the performances so great, the thoughts so great and threatening, you produce a someone who can exist before it. You invent a man who can stand before the terrible appearances. This way he can't get justice and he can't give justice, but he can live. And this is what mere humanity always does. It's made up of these inventors or artists, millions and millions of them, each in his own way trying to recruit other people to play a supporting role and sustain him in his make-believe... That's the struggle of humanity, to recruit others to your version of what's real.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Everyone tries to create a world he can live in, and what he can't use he often can't see. But the real world is already created, and if your fabrication doesn't correspond, then even if you feel noble and insist on there being something better than what people call reality, that better something needn't try to exceed what, in its actuality, since we know it so little, may be very surprising. If a happy state of things, surprising; if miserable or tragic, no worse than what we invent.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Everybody knows there is no fineness or accuracy of suppression; if you hold down one thing you hold down the adjoining.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Sometimes I wished I could become a shoemaker too.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“In the end you can't save your soul and life by thought. But if you think, the least of the consolation prizes is the world.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Well, don't build me up so, and you won't have to tear me down.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Therefore we didn't talk of genuine things.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Not that life should end is so terrible in itself, but that it should end with so many disappointments in the essential.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“With small nose, gross thighs, and those back-bent smoke-dyed fingers, he obliged me with this explanation, and he thought to have more effect on me than he really ever could have. When I didn't argue he was satisfied that he had persuaded me, and was not the first to make that mistake.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Anyhow, I had found something out about an unknown privation, and I realized how a general love or craving, before it is explicit or before it sees its object, manifests itself as boredom or some other kind of suffering. And what did I think of myself in relation to the great occasions, the more sizable being of these books? Why, I saw them, first of all. So suppose I wasn't created to read a great declaration, or to boss a palatinate, or send off a message to Avignon, and so on, I could see, so there nevertheless was a share for me in all that had happened. How much of a share? Why, I knew there were things that would never, because they could never, come of my reading. But this knowledge was not so different from the remote but ever-present death that sits in the corner of the loving bedroom; though it doesn't budge from the corner, you wouldn't stop your loving. Then neither would I stop my reading. I sat and read. I had no eye, ear, or interest for anything else--that is, for usual, second-order, oatmeal, mere-phenomenal, snarled-shoelace-carfare-laundry-ticket plainness, unspecified dismalness, unknown captivities; the life of despair-harness or the life of organization-habits which is meant to supplant accidents with calm abiding. Well, now, who can really expect the daily facts to go, toil or prisons to go, oatmeal and laundry tickets and the rest, and insist that all moments be raised to the greatest importance, demand that everyone breathe the pointy, star-furnished air at its highest difficulty, abolish all brick, vaultlike rooms, all dreariness, and live like prophets or gods? Why, everybody knows this triumphant life can only be periodic. So there's a schism about it, some saying only this triumphant life is real and others that only the daily facts are. For me there was no debate, and I made speed into the former.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Yes, these business people have great energy. There’s a question as to what’s burned to produce it and what things we can and can’t burn.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“To rip off a piece of lover's temper was a pleasure in her deepest vein of enjoyment.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“It wasn't that he was specially ungenerous but that he put things off to give his generosity a longer and more significant route.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“You never know what forms self-respect will take, especially with people whose rules of life are few.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“We never learn anything, never in the world, and in spite of all the history books written. They’re just the way we plead or ague with ourselves about it, but it’s only light from the outside that we’re supposed to take inside. If we can. There’s a regular warehouse of fine suggestions and if we’re not better it isn’t because there aren’t plenty of marvelous and true ideas to draw on, but because our vanity weighs more than all of them put together.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Some big insect flew in and began walking on the table. I don’t know what insect it was, but it was brown, shining, and rich in structures. In the city the big universal chain of insects gets thin, but where there’s a leaf or two it’ll be represented.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“my feelings were big, sad, comfortless, of a thinking animal, my heart acting like an orb filled too big for my chest, not from revulsion, which I have to say I didn’t feel, but over-all general misery.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“Many common lies and hypocrisies are like that, just out of the harmony of the moment.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“The more south we were, the more deep a sky it seemed, till, in the Valley of Mexico, I thought it held back an element too strong for life, and that the flamy brilliance of blue stood off this menace and sometimes, like a sheath or silk membrane, shoed the weight it held in sags. So when later he would fly high over the old craters on the plain, coaly bubbles of the underworld, dangerous red everywhere from the sun, and then coats of snow on the peak of the cones—gliding like a Satan—well, it was here the old priests, before the Spaniards, waited for Aldebaran to come into the middle of heaven to tell them whether or not life would go on for another cycle, and when they received their astronomical sign built their new fire inside the split and emptied chest of a human sacrifice. And also, hereabouts, worshipers disguised as gods and as gods in the disguise of birds, jumped from platforms fixed on long poles, and glided as they spun by the ropes—feathered serpents, and eagles too, the voladores, or fliers. There still are such plummeters, in market places, as there seem to be remnants or conversions or equivalents of all the old things. Instead of racks or pyramids of skulls still in their hair and raining down scraps of flesh there are corpses of dogs, rats, horses, asses, by the roads; the bones dug out of the rented graves are thrown on a pile when the lease is up; and there are the coffins looking like such a rough joke on the female form, sold in the open shops, black, white, gray, and in all sizes, with their heavy death fringes daubed in Sapolio silver on the black. Beggars in dog voices on the church steps enact the last feebleness for you with ancient Church Spanish, and show their old flails of stump and their sores. The burden carriers with the long lines, hemp lines they wind over their foreheads to hold the loads on their backs, lie in the garbage at siesta and give themselves the same exhibited neglect the dead are shown. Which is all to emphasize how openly death is received everywhere, in the beauty of the place, and how it is acknowledged that anyone may be roughly handled—the proudest—pinched, slapped, and set down, thrown down; for death throws even worse in men’s faces and makes it horrible and absurd that one never touched should be roughly dumped under, dumped upon.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


“I must be a little crazy.” She said it in a husky and quiet tone. “I must be, I have to admit. But I thought if I could get through to one other person I could get through to more. So people wouldn’t tire me, and so I wouldn’t be afraid of them. Because my feeling can’t be people’s fault, so much. They don’t make it. Well, I believed it must be you who could do this for me. And you could. I was so happy to find you. I thought you knew all about what you could do and you were so lucky and so special. That’s why it’s not just jealousy. I didn’t want you to come back. I’m sorry you’re here now. You’re not special. You’re like everybody else. You get tired easily. I don’t want to see you any more.”
― Saul Bellow, quote from The Adventures of Augie March


About the author

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