Quotes from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Claire North ·  405 pages

Rating: (42.3K votes)


“The most it ever seems we know how to do with time, is to waste it.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“There is no loss, if you cannot remember what you have lost.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“Men must be decent first and brilliant later, otherwise you're not helping people, just servicing the machine.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“I know now that there is something dead inside me though I cannot remember exactly when it died.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“They say that the mind cannot remember pain; I say it barely matters, for even if the physical sensation is lost, our recollection of the terror that surrounds it is perfect.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August



“Time was simple, is simple. We can divide it into simple parts, measure it, arrange dinner by it, drink whisky to its passage. We can mathematically deploy it, use it to express ideas about the observable universe, and yet if asked to explain it in simple language to a child–in simple language which is not deceit, of course–we are powerless. The most it ever seems we know how to do with time is to waste it.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“This thing you carry inside you, I don’t know what it is. I don’t know where you got it. But Harry, the past is the past. You are alive today. That is all that matters. You must remember, because it is who you are, but as it is who you are, you must never, ever regret. To regret your past is to regret your soul.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“Is there innocence in ignorance? And if there is, do we tolerate other for their innocence's sake?”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“Complexity should be your excuse for inaction.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“When I am optimistic, I choose to believe that every life I lead, every choice I make, has consequence. That I am not one Harry August but many, a mind flicking from parallel life to parallel life, and that when I die, the world carries on without me, altered by my deeds, marked by my presence.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August



“Dr August, there is no greater isolation a man may experience than to be lonely in a crowd. He may nod, and smile, and say the right thing, but even by this pretence his soul is pushed further away from the kinship of men.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“The secret to being unafraid of the darkness is to challenge the darkness to fear you, to raise your eyes sharp to those few souls who stagger by, daring them to believe that you are not, in fact, more frightening than they are.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“There is a black pit in the bottom of my soul that has no limit to its falling.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“God, but he lied beautifully; it was a masterclass. If I hadn't been concentrating so hard on my own deceit, I would have stood up and applauded.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“What is the point of me?

Either to change a world-many, many worlds, each touched by the choices I make in my life, for every deed a consequence, and in every love and every sorrow truth-or nothing at all.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August



“Ours is the fellowship of strangers who know a secret that we cannot express.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“Are you God, Dr August? Are you the only living creature that matters? Do you think, because you remember it, that your pain is bigger and more important? Do you think, because you experience it, that your life is the only life that gets counted?”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“Knowledge is not a substitute for ingenuity, merely an accelerant.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“Sophia: Go with it?
Harry: Don't fight against inevitability. Life is until it is not, so why get fussed? Don't hurt anyone, try not to give your dinner guests food poisoning, be clean in word and deed-what else is there? Just be a decent person in a decent world.
Sophia: Everyone's a decent person in their own eyes.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“For a second, my hand touched yours, but that second is gone, and cannot be seen, heard or felt ever again. This second is gone, too, the moment in which I spoke by your side. It is dead. Let it die.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August



“The trick with a truly successful intimidation is not to rely on volume or obscenity, but to cultivate that quiet certainty which informs any listener that your people will do the shouting for you, should the moment come.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“Sophia was silent a while, thinking it through. Then, “Go with it.” She said the unfamiliar words carefully, and, grinning, tried them again. “Go with it. You talk about decent people living decent lives as if that doesn’t mean anything, like it’s not a big deal. But you listen–this ‘decent’, it is the only thing that matters. I don’t care if you theorise, Mr Scientist, a machine that makes all men kind and all women beautiful if, while making your machine, you don’t stop to help the old mother cross the street, you know? I don’t care if you cure ageing, or stop starvation or end nuclear wars, if you forget this–” she rapped her knuckles against my forehead “–or this–” pressed her palm against my chest “–because even then if you save everyone else, you’ll be dead inside. Men must be decent first and brilliant later, otherwise you’re not helping people, just servicing the machine.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“I like Russian trains. Not for comfort, of which there is none, nor speed, of which there is barely any to be spoken about, particularly when you relate it to the size of the country that must be crossed. Not even, particularly, for the view, which is inevitably repetitive, as Mother Nature decrees that her works of wonder can only occur so frequently across such a vast and cultivated space. I like Russian trains, or at least those I travelled on in the early spring of 1956, so many centuries after I gunned Lisle down in cold blood; I like the trains for the sense of unity that all these hardships create in its passengers. I suspect the experience is relative.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“My first life, for all it lacked any real direction, had about it a kind of happiness, if ignorance is innocence, and loneliness is a separation of care.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“We are no more and no less than minds, and it is human for the mind to be imperfect and to forget.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August



“That's a really nice thought and I'm grateful for it, but there comes a point when one realizes that gratification of the flesh is only so fulfilling. It's fantastic while it lasts, but comes with so many questions of emotional baggage and doubt that frankly I begin to question whether the grief involved outweighs the satisfaction gained.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“Perhaps, I suggested, the fate of the universe could briefly take second place to the thorny issue of graduating with honours?

He blew loudly between his lips, a liquid sound of contempt. “That,” he exclaimed, “is precisely what’s wrong with academics.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“She was good with a needle–I hardly felt it go in. Euphoria is, I believe, the term they use to describe the sensation, and upon experience I found it to be an entirely useless definition, as it relies on comparatives that are not apt to the situation. A happiness beyond compare, a contentment beyond understanding, a bliss, a travelling, a freeing of the mind from the flesh–these are all, in their ways, an appropriate description of the process, but they mean nothing, for no recollection can re-create them and no substitute mimic them. So, having known what euphoria is, it remains precisely that–a word with longing attached, but no meaning when actually experiencing the thing. My arms and legs were heavy, my mouth was dry, and I did not care, for my mouth was not mine. I knew that I was still and time was moving, and wondered how it had taken me so long to comprehend that this was the nature of time itself, and wished I had a notebook to hand so I could jot down these thoughts–these profound, beautiful thoughts I had never thought before, which would, I felt certain, revolutionise the way mankind worked. I watched Akinleye inject herself, and inject the maid, who lay with her head in Akinleye’s lap, a dutiful kitten as the drug did its work, and I wanted to explain to them that I’d had the most extraordinary idea about the nature of reality, seen the most incredible truth, if only I could make others understand it!”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“It is said that there are three stages of life for those of us who live our lives in circles. These are rejection, exploration, and acceptance.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August


“For progress, we have eaten our souls up, and nothing matters anymore.”
― Claire North, quote from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August



About the author

Claire North
Born place: in The United Kingdom
Born date April 27, 1986
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