14+ quotes from The Assault by Harry Mulisch

Quotes from The Assault

Harry Mulisch ·  185 pages

Rating: (8.4K votes)


“Hate is the darkness, that's no good. And yet we've got to hate Fascists, and that's considered perfectly all right. How is that possible? It's because we hate them in the name of the light, I guess, whereas they hate only in the name of darkness. We hate hate itself, and for this reason our hate is better than theirs.
But that's why it's more difficult for us. For them everything is very simple, but for us it's more complicated. We've got to become a little bit like them in order to fight them so we become a little bit unlike ourselves. But they don't have that problem; they can do away with us without any qualms. We first have to do away with something inside ourselves before we can do away with them. Not them; they can simply remain themselves, that's why they're so strong. But they'll lose in the end, because they have no light in them. The only thing is, we mustn't become too much like them, mustn't destroy ourselves altogether, otherwise they'll have won in the end...”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“A man who has never been hungry may possess a more refined palate, but he has no idea what it means to eat.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“En dan is er nog iets met dat licht. Iemand die van iemand anders houdt, zegt altijd dat dat komt doordat die ander zo mooi is, op een of ander manier, van buiten of van binnen, of allebei, terwijl andere mensen daar vaak niets van zien, en meestal is het ook niet zo. Maar wie altijd mooi is, is degene die liefheeft, want hij heeft lief en wordt bestraald door dat licht. Er is een man die van mij houdt en die mij op een bepaalde manier ontzettend mooi vindt, maar dat ben ik helemaal niet. Hij is mooi, al is hij op allerlei manieren ontzettend lelijk. En ik ben ook mooi, maar alleen omdat ik ook van hem houd – al weet hij dat niet. Hij denkt van niet, maar ik houd van hem.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“Besides, whoever keeps the future in front of him and the past at his back is doing something else that's hard to imagine. For the image implies that events somehow already exist in the future, reach the present at a determined moment, and finally come to rest in the past. But nothing exists in the future; it is empty; one might die at any minute. Therefore such a person has his face toward the void, whereas it is the past behind him that is visible, stored in the memory.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“Wie het gedaan heeft, heeft het gedaan en niet iemand anders.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“The process of putting Haarlem behind him resembled the changes a man goes through when he divorces. He takes a girl friend to forget his wife, but just doing that prolongs the connection with the wife. Possibly things will work out only with the next girl friend - although the third one has the best chance. Boundaries have to be continuously sealed off, but it's a hopeless job, fore everything touches everything else in this world. A beginning never disappears, not even with the ending.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“If you believe we shouldn't have done it, then you also believe that, in the light of history, the human race shouldn't have existed. Because then all the love and happiness and goodness in this world can't outweigh the life of a single child.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“He understood very well that it was just because of this intimacy that their marriage had not survived.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“When we heard those shots and he saw Ploeg lying in front of the house, what he said was, 'My God, the lizards!'"
With wide-eyed disbelief Anton looked out over her head.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“I had already taken a step toward their house, but then Father said, 'No, not there. They're hiding Jews.'"
Christ!" exclaimed Anton, slapping his forehead.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“The way we word it, it's as if our backs were turned to the past as we look toward the futre; and that is, in fact, how we actually think of it: the future in front, the past behind. To dynamic personalities, the present is a ship that drives its bow through the rough seas of the future. To ore passive ones, it is rather like a raft drifting along with the tide. THere is, of course, something wrong with both these images, for if time is movement, then it must be moving through another kind of time, and the secondary time through yet another; and thus time is endlessly multiplied. This is the kind of concept that does not please philosophers, but then, inventions of the heart have little to do with those of the intellect.
Besides, whoever keeps the future in front of him and the past at his back is doing something else that is hard to imagine. For the image implies that events somehow already exist in the future, reach the present at a determined moment, and finally come to rest in the past. But nothing exists in the future; it is empty; one might die at any minute. Therefore such a person has his face turned toward the void, whereas it is the past behind him that is visible, stored in the memory.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“His father in law, who was as old as the century, had just retired and was living in a country house in Gelderland. He would be coming by car. Saskia called and suggested that he pick them up--then they could get coffee together first. A typical country dweller, he replied that he wouldn't be caught dead in Amsterdam; what did they think, that he wanted to be attacked by a gang of hippie Provos? He laughed as he said it, but he didn't come, though God knows he'd faced worse dangers in his life.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“He felt like someone going to a whorehouse for the first time.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


“Still, national politics meant little to him: about as much as paper airplanes would mean to the survivor of a plane crash.”
― Harry Mulisch, quote from The Assault


About the author

Harry Mulisch
Born place: in Haarlem, Netherlands
Born date July 29, 1927
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