History Quotes – Machiavelli

“From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than to be feared, or the contrary. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking. For one can generally say this about men; that they are ungrateful, fickle, simulators and deceivers, avoiders of danger, greedy for gain; and while you work for their good they are completely yours offering you their blood, their property, their lives and their sons …. when danger is far away; but when it comes nearer to you they turn away. And that prince who bases his power entirely on their words, finding himself completely without other preparations, comes to ruin; for friendships that are acquired for a price and not by greatness and nobility of character are purchased, but not owned, and at the proper moment they cannot be spent. And men are less hesitant about harming someone who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared because loved is held together by a chain of obligation which, since men are wretched creatures, is broken on every occasion in which their own interests are concerned; but fear is sustained by a dread of punishment which will never leave you.”

 

From The Prince (1513) by Niccolo Machiavelli

Book Quotes – JG Ballard

“During the next month my infatuation with Serena had all the intensity of which a middle-aged man is capable. I abandoned my office, leaving the staff to cope for themselves, and spent all my time with Serena, tending her like the most dutiful lover . At huge expense I had a complex air-conditioning system installed in my house, of a type only employed in museums. In the past I had moved Serena from warm room to cool without a thought to her complexion, assuming it to be made of some insensitive plastic, but I now carefully regulated the temperature and humidity, determined to preserve her forever. I re-arranged the furniture throughout the house to avoid bruising her arms and shoulders as I carried her from floor to floor. In the mornings I would wake eagerly to find her at the foot of my bed, then seat her by me at the breakfast table. All day she stayed within my reach, smiling at me with an expression that almost convinced me she responded to my feelings.”

 

From The Smile by JG Ballard (1983)

Book Quotes – Franz Kafka

“Is there a joiner called Lanz who lives here?” he asked. “Pardon?” said a young woman with black, shining eyes who was, at that moment, washing children’s underclothes in a bucket. She pointed her wet hand towards the open door of the adjoining room.

K. thought he had stepped into a meeting. A medium sized, two windowed room was filled with the most diverse crowd of people – nobody paid any attention to the person who had just entered. Close under its ceiling it was surrounded by a gallery which was also fully occupied and where the people could only stand bent down with their heads and their backs touching the ceiling. K., who found the air too stuffy, stepped out again and said to the young woman, who had probably misunderstood what he had said, “I asked for a joiner, someone by the name of Lanz.” “Yes,” said the woman, “please go on in.” K. would probably not have followed her if the woman had not gone up to him, taken hold of the door handle and said, “I’ll have to close the door after you, no-one else will be allowed in.” “Very sensible,” said K., “but it’s too full already.” But then he went back in anyway.

From Der Prozeß (“The Trial”) by Franz Kafka (written 1915, but not published until 1925)

 

Book Quotes – Arundhati Roy

“The path, which ran parallel to the river, led to a little grassy clearing that was hemmed in by huddled trees; coconut, cashew, mango, bilimbi. On the edge of the clearing , with its back to the river, a low hut with walls of orange laterite plastered with mud and a thatched roof nestled close to the ground , as though it were listening to a whispered subterranean secret. The low walls of the hut were the same colour as the earth they stood on, and seemed to have germinated from a house-seed planted in the ground, from which right-angled ribs had risen and enclosed space. Three untidy banana trees grew in the little front yard that had been fenced off with panels of woven palm leaves.”

From The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (1992)

Book Quotes – Niall Fergusson

[During WW1, the killing of POWs was commonplace by both sides … ] “Though sometimes spontaneous, this kind of behaviour seems to have been encouraged by some commissioned officers, who believed that the order ‘Take no prisoners’ enhanced the aggression and therefore the combat effectiveness of their men. A verbal order to finish off French prisoners was issued to some German officers as early as September 1914. But there was nothing particularly German about this sort of thing . One British brigadier was overheard by a soldier in the Suffolks to say on the eve of the Battle of the Somme ‘You may take prisoners, but I don’t want to see them.’ Another man, in the 17th Highland Light Infantry, recalled the order ‘that no quarter was to be shown to the enemy and no prisoners.’ Private Arthur Hubbard of the London Scottish Regiment also received strict orders not to take prisoners, ‘no matter if wounded.’ His ‘first job’ he recalled, ‘was when I had finished cutting some of the wire away, to empty my magazine on 3 Germans that came out of their deep dugout , bleeding badly, and put them out of their misery, they cried for mercy, but I had my orders, they had no feelings whatever for us poor chaps.’ ….”

 

From The War of the World by Niall Fergusson (2006)

Sci-Fi Quotes – HG Wells

“The rate of interest she paid was of course high , because of the uncertainty of her security, and the arithmetic of lovers is often sketchy and optimistic. Yet they had glorious times after that return. They determined that they would not go to a Pleasure City nor waste their days rushing through the air from one part of the world to the other, for in spite of one disillusionment, their tastes were still old fashioned. They furnished their little room with quaint old Victorian furniture, and found a shop on the forty-second floor in Seventh Way where printed books of the old sort were still to be bought. It was their pet affectation to read print instead of hearing phonographs. And when presently came a sweet little girl, to unite them further if it were possible, Elizabeth would not send her to a Creche, as the custom was, but insisted on nursing it at home. The rent of their apartments was raised on account of this singular proceeding, but they did not mind. It only meant borrowing a little more.”

 

A Story of the Days to Come by HG Wells (1897)

Book Quotes – Ian Rankin

“What’ll it be ?” The barman’s question was not unfriendly.
“Half of special and a Bell’s” replied Rebus. This was his gambit in any potentially rough pub. He could think of no good reason why, somehow it just seemed like the right order. He remembered the roughest drinking den he’d ever encountered, deep in a Niddrie housing scheme. He’d given his order and the barman asked, in all seriousness, whether he wanted the two drinks in the same glass. That had shaken Rebus, and he hadn’t lingered.

 

From A Good Hanging by Ian Rankin (1992)