Quotes from The Ill-Made Knight

T.H. White ·  291 pages

Rating: (1.2K votes)


“It is generally the trustful and optimistic people who can afford to retreat. The loveless and faithless ones are compelled by their pessimism to attack.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Ill-Made Knight


“Lancelot tried to have a Word. His Word was valuable to him not only because he was good, but also because he was bad. It is the bad people who need to have principles to restrain them.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Ill-Made Knight


“Middle-aged people can balance between believing in God and breaking all the commandments without difficulty.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Ill-Made Knight


“You could pretend that Guenever was a sort of man-eating lioncelle herself, or that she was one of those selfish women who insist on ruling everywhere. In fact, this is what she did seem to be to a superficial inspection. She was beautiful, sanguine, hot-tempered, demanding, impulsive, acquisitive, charming - she had all the proper qualities for a man-eater. But the rock on which these easy explanations founder, is that she was not promiscuous. There was never anybody in her life except Lancelot and Arthur. She never ate anybody except these. And even these she did not eat in the full sense of the word. People who have been digested by a man-eating lioncelle tend to become nonentities - to live no life except within the vitals of the devourer. Yet both Arthur and Lancelot, the people whom she apparently devoured, lived full lives, and accomplished things of their own.

She lived in warlike times, when the lives of young people were as short as those of airmen in the twentieth century. In such times, the elderly moralists are content to relax their moral laws a little, in return for being defended. The condemned pilots, with their lust for life and love which is probably to be lost so soon, touch the hearts of young women, or possibly call up an answering bravado. Generosity, courage, honesty, pity, the faculty to look short life in the face - certainly comradeship and tenderness - these qualities may explain why Guenever took Lancelot as well as Arthur. It was courage more than anything else - the courage to take and give from the heart, while there was time. Poets are always urging women to have this kind of courage. She gathered her rose-buds while she might, and the striking thing was that she only gathered two of them, which she kept always, and that those two were the best.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Ill-Made Knight


“The author says people are guilty of "wrecking the present because the future was bound to be a wreck.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Ill-Made Knight



“The increasingly cynical court thought Arthur, "hypocritical, as all decent men must be if you assume decency cannot exist.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Ill-Made Knight


“We have invented a moral sense which is rotting now that we can't give it employment, and when a moral sense begins to rot, it is worse than when you had none. I suppose that all endeavors which are directed to a purely worldly end, as my precious civilization was, contain within themselves the germs of their own corruption.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Ill-Made Knight


“People will do the basest things on account of their so-called honor.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Ill-Made Knight


“Kings can only use their best tools.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Ill-Made Knight


“The tents were being let down, the banners waved. The cheers which now began, round after round, were like drumfire or thunder, rolling around the turrets of Carlisle. All the field, and all the people in the field, and all the towers of the castle, seemed to be jumping up and down like the surface of a lake under rain. In the middle, quite forgotten, her [Gueneviere's] lover was kneeling by himself. This lonely and motionless figure knew a secret which was hidden from the others. The miracle was that he had been allowed to do a miracle. "And ever," says Malory, "Sir Lancelot wept, as he had been a child that had been beaten.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Ill-Made Knight



“No… - dijo sir Lanzarote–, pues una vez caído en la vergüenza quizá no vuelva a recobrarse.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Ill-Made Knight


About the author

T.H. White
Born place: in Bombay, India
Born date May 29, 1906
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