Quotes from The Quiet American

Graham Greene ·  180 pages

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“Innocence is a kind of insanity”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“Time has its revenges, but revenge seems so often sour. Wouldn’t we all do better not trying to understand, accepting the fact that no human being will ever understand another, not a wife with a husband, nor a parent a child? Perhaps that’s why men have invented God – a being capable of understanding. ”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“Sooner or later...one has to take sides. If one is to remain human.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“So it always is: when you escape to a desert the silence shouts in your ear.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“I wish sometimes you had a few bad motives, you might understand a little more about human beings.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American



“That was my first instinct -- to protect him. It never occurred to me that there was a greater need to protect myself. Innocence always calls mutely for protection when we would be so much wiser to guard ourselves against it: innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“From childhood I had never believed in permanence, and yet I had longed for it. Always I was afraid of losing happiness. This month, next year...death was the only absolute value in my world. Lose life and one would lose nothing again forever.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“Thought's a luxury. Do you think the peasant sits and thinks of God and Democracy when he gets inside his mud hut at night?”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“I envied those who could believe in a God and I distrusted them. I felt they were keeping their courage up with a fable of the changeless and the permanent. Death was far more certain than God, and with death there would be no longer the possibility of love dying.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American



“He was impregnably armored by his good intentions and his ignorance.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“God save us always,' I said 'from the innocent and the good.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“I can’t say what made me fall in love with Vietnam - that a woman’s voice can drug you; that everything is so intense. The colors, the taste, even the rain. Nothing like the filthy rain in London. They say whatever you’re looking for, you will find here. They say you come to Vietnam and you understand a lot in a few minutes, but the rest has got to be lived. The smell: that’s the first thing that hits you, promising everything in exchange for your soul. And the heat. Your shirt is straightaway a rag. You can hardly remember your name, or what you came to escape from. But at night, there’s a breeze. The river is beautiful. You could be forgiven for thinking there was no war; that the gunshots were fireworks; that only pleasure matters. A pipe of opium, or the touch of a girl who might tell you she loves you. And then, something happens, as you knew it would. And nothing can ever be the same again.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“Innocence always calls mutely for protection when we would be so much wiser to guard ourselves against it: innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“Suffering is not increased by numbers. One body can contain all the suffering the world can feel.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American



“Ordinary life goes on--that has saved many a man's reason.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“One forgets so quickly one’s own youth…”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“They don't believe in anything either. You and your like are trying to make a war with the help of people who just aren't interested."
"They don't want communism."
"They want enough rice," I said. "They don't want to be shot at. They want one day to be much the same as another. They don't want our white skins around telling them what they want."
"If Indochina goes--"
"I know that record. Siam goes. Malaya goes. Indonesia goes. What does 'go' mean? If I believed in your God and another life, I'd bet my future harp against your golden crown that in five hundred years there may be no New York or London, but they'll be growing paddy in these fields, they'll be carrying their produce to market on long poles, wearing their pointed hats. The small boys will be sitting on the buffaloes. I like the buffaloes, they don't like our smell, the smell of Europeans.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“To be in love is to see yourself as someone else sees you, it is to be in love with the falsified and exalted image of yourself. In love we are incapable of honour - the courageous act is no more than playing a part to an audience of two.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American



“Death was far more certain than God.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“If you live in a place for long you cease to read about it.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“A man becomes trustworthy when you trust him.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“I could never have been a pacifist. To kill a man was surely to grant him an immeasurable benefit. Oh yes, people always, everywhere, loved their enemies. It was their friends they preserved for pain and vacuity.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“They killed him because he was too innocent to live. He was young and ignorant and silly and he got involved. He had no more of a notion than any of you what the whole affair's about . . .”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American



“Even though my reason wanted the state of death, I was afraid like a virgin of the act.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“Pyle could see pain when it was in front of his eyes. (I don’t write that as a sneer; there are so many of us who can’t)”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“Do you like dogs?'
'No.'
'I thought the British were great dog-lovers.'
'We think Americans love dollars, but there must be exceptions.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


“For a moment I had felt elation as on the instant of waking before one remembers.”
― Graham Greene, quote from The Quiet American


About the author

Graham Greene
Born place: in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, The United Kingdom
Born date October 2, 1904
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