Coping the quote
29+ quotes from The Dinner by Herman Koch

Quotes from The Dinner

Herman Koch ·  292 pages

Rating: (107.1K votes)


“Sometimes things come out of your mouth that you regret later on. Or no, not regret. You say something so razor-sharp that the person you say it to carries it around with them for the rest of their life.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“If I had to give a definition of happiness, it would be this: happiness needs nothing but itself; it doesn’t have to be validated.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“Happiness needs nothing but itself; it doesn't have to be validated. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in it's own way.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“Unhappiness loves company. Unhappiness can’t stand silence—especially not the uneasy silence that settles in when it is all alone.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“That was how I looked at life sometimes, as a warm meal that was growing cold. I knew I had to eat, or else I would die, but I had lost my appetite.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“... technically, just like with the rings of a tree or Carbon-14, it had to be possible to measure the passage of time by the melting of vanilla ice cream.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“The first thing that struck you about Claire’s plate was its vast emptiness. Of course I’m well aware that, in the better restaurants, quality takes precedence over quantity, but there are voids and then there are voids. The void here, that part of the plate on which no food at all was present, had clearly been raised to a matter of principle.
It was as though the empty plate was challenging you to say something about it, to go to the open kitchen and demand an explanation. ‘You wouldn’t even dare!’ the plate said, and laughed in your face.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“All these heads, I thought. All these heads into which everything disappears.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“His eyes had something dull about them, expressionless, the bored look of a mediocre intelligence that wrongly supposes it has “seen it all before.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“The dilemma I was faced with was one every parent faces sooner or later: you want to defend your child, of course; you stand up for your child, but you mustn't do it all too vehemently, and above all not too eloquently - you mustn't drive anyone into a corner. The educators, the teachers, will let you have your say, but afterwards they'll take revenge on your child. You may come up with better arguments - it's not too hard to come up with better arguments than the educators, the teachers - but in the end, your child to going to pay for it. Their frustration at being shown up is something they'll take out on the student.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“This particular restaurant is one where you have to call three months in advance—or six, or eight, don’t ask me. Personally, I’d never want to know three months in advance where I’m going to eat on any given evening, but apparently some people don’t mind. A few centuries from now, when historians want to know what kind of crazies people were at the start of the twenty-first century, all they’ll have to do is look at the computer files of the so-called “top” restaurants.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“The stupid woman is the one who thinks she doesn’t need any help.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“That’s the oppressive thing about happiness, the way everything is out on the table like an open book:”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“Even when you act like nothing is happening, something happens—I don’t know how to put it any more clearly. It’s”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“I let them do some simple arithmetic. In a group of one hundred people, how many assholes are there? How many fathers who humiliate their children? How many morons whose breath stinks like rotten meat but who refuse to do anything about it? How many hopeless cases who go on complaining all their lives about the non-existent injustices they’ve had to suffer? Look around you, I said. How many of your classmates would you be pleased not to see return to their desks tomorrow morning? Think about that one family member of your own family, that irritating uncle with his pointless, horseshit stories at birthday parties, that ugly cousin who mistreats his cat. Think about how relieved you would be - and not only you, but virtually the entire family - if that uncle or cousin would step on a landmine or be hit by a five-hundred-pounder dropped from a high altitude. If that member of the family were to be wiped off the face of the earth. And now think about all those millions of victims of all the wars there have been in the past - I never specifically mentioned the Second World War, I used it as an example because it’s the one that most appeals to their imaginations - and think about the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of victims who we need to have around like we need a hole in the head. Even from a purely statistical standpoint, it’s impossible that all those victims were good people, whatever kind of people that may be. The injustice is found more in the fact that the assholes are also put on the list of innocent victims. That their names are also chiselled into the war memorials.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“A fixed appointment for the immediate future is the gates of hell;”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“The evenings were the worst. I stood at the window of my hotel room and looked at the traffic and the thousands of little lights and the people who all seemed to be on their way to something.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“It’s like a pistol in a stage play: when someone waves a pistol during the first act, you can bet your bottom dollar that someone will be shot with it before the curtain falls. That’s the law of drama. The law that says no pistol must appear if no one’s going to fire it.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“Ik dacht aan de tijd, de verstrijkende tijd om precies te zijn, hoe onmetelijk, hoe onafzienbaar, hoe lang en donker en leeg één uur kan zijn. Wie zo denkt heeft helemaal geen lichtjaren nodig.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“Claire is smarter than I am. I’m not saying that out of some half-baked feminist sentiment or in order to endear women to me. You’ll never hear me claim that ‘women in general’ are smarter than men. Or more sensitive, more intuitive, or that they are more ‘in touch with life’, or any of the other horseshit that, when all is said and done, so-called ‘sensitive’ men try to peddle more often than women themselves.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“The smile remained suspended on her face, but it was as though it had been disconnected from the emotion behind it – if there ever had been any emotion behind it.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“Perhaps he didn’t eat the flesh of mammals, and was anti-American, or in any case anti-Bush – the latter stance gave people carte blanche not to think about anything any more. Anyone who was against Bush had his heart in the right place, and could behave like a boorish asshole towards anyone around him.”.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“I liked being inside the head of someone who reveals himself unknowingly while he still thinks most people find him sympathetic. DG:”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“When the conversation turns too quickly to films, I see it as a sign of weakness. I mean: films are more something for the end of the evening, when you really don’t have much else to talk about. I don’t know why, but when people start talking about films, I always get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, like when you wake up in the morning and find that it’s already getting dark outside.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“unhappy families – and within those families, in particular the unhappy husband and wife – can never get by on their own. The more validators the merrier. Unhappiness loves company. Unhappiness can’t stand silence – especially not the uneasy silence that settles in when it is all alone.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“They all had to do something: they had to make a start in life; they had to go through life. Even though a single hour can be so long.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“Is it life threatening?” they asked. They said it slightly sotto voce, but you could hear the thirst for sensation right through it: when people get a chance to come close to death without having it touch them personally, they never miss the opportunity.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“These were the ways and moves of … of a predator. The thought popped into my mind without my being able to stop it. ‘Of an athlete’ was what I had meant to say – to think. A sportsman.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


“You sometimes hear about people who have lost their sense of smell and taste: for those people, a plate of the most delicious food means nothing at all. That was how I looked at life sometimes, as a warm meal that was growing cold. I knew I had to eat, otherwise I would die, but I had lost my appetite.”
― Herman Koch, quote from The Dinner


About the author

Herman Koch
Born place: in Arnhem, Netherlands
Born date September 5, 1953
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