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The Razor’s Edge is one of my favorite books. Basically it is the… - book_quotes [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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[Mar. 4th, 2004|02:38 am]


[mood |boredbored]
[music |Nine Inch Nails - Slipping Away]

The Razor’s Edge is one of my favorite books. Basically it is the story of a young man’s quest to find God and meaning in life after he returns from World War I. It’s interesting as his story is told in bits and pieces as he passes through the lives of other characters over a period of 10 years or so. You should read it. Hope's library does not have a copy, but KPL does. Of course, if you're nice maybe I'll loan you mine. Or it can be obtained cheaply used, or new.

“Perhaps he won’t. It’s a long and arduous road he’s starting to travel, but it may be that at the end of it he’ll find what he’s seeking.”
 “What’s that?”
 “Hasn’t it occurred to you? It seems to me that in what he said to you he indicated it pretty plainly. God.”1

“The first time he talked in that way he said something that I’ve never forgotten, because it horrified me; he said that the world isn’t a creation, for out of nothing nothing comes, but a manifestation of the eternal nature; well, that was all right, but then he added that evil is as direct a manifestation of the divine as good.”2

“I thought he hated that great, uncouth body of his and wanted to torture it and that his cheating and his bitterness and his cruelty were the revolt of his will … against a deep-rooted instinct of holiness, against a desire for God that terrified and yet obsessed him.”3

I received the impression she was bringing them up to do as they were told.4

“We’re not used to persons who do things simply for the love of God whom they don’t believe in.”5

“That doesn’t mean she’s bad. Quite a number of highly respected citizens get drunk and have a liking for rough trade. They’re bad habits, like biting one’s nails, but I don’t know that they’re worse than that. I call a person bad who lies and cheats and is unkind.”6

“D’you remember how Jesus was led into the wilderness and fasted forty days? Then, when he was a-hungered, the devil came to him and said: if thou be the son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But Jesus resisted the temptation. Then the devil set him up on a pinnacle of the temple and said to him: If thou be the son of God, cast thyself down. For angels had charge of him and would bear him up. But again Jesus resisted. Then the devil took him to a high mountain and showed him the kingdoms of the world and said that he would give them to him if he would fall down and worship him. But Jesus said: Get thee hence, Satan. That’s the end of the story according to the good simple Matthew. But it wasn’t. The devil was sly and he came to Jesus once more and said: If thou wilt accept shame and disgrace, scourging, a crown of thorns and death on the cross thou shalt save the human race, for greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Jesus fell. The devil laughed till his sides ached, for he knew the evil men would commit in the name of their redeemer.”7

“‘Our wise old church,’ he said then, ‘has discovered that if you will act as if you believed belief will be granted to you; if you pray with doubt, but pray with sincerity, your doubt will be dispelled; if you surrender yourself to the beauty of that liturgy the power of which over the human spirit has been proved by the experience of the ages, peace will descend upon you.”8

“I wanted to believe, but I couldn’t believe in a God who wasn’t better than the ordinary decent man.”9

‘A God that can be understood is no God. Who can explain the Infinite in words?’10

“But how can a purely intellectual conception be a solace to the suffering human race? Men have always wanted a personal God to whom they can turn in their distress for comfort and encouragement.”11

1W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge, (Philadelphia: Blakiston, 1944), 73.

2 Ibid., 86.

3 Ibid., 88.

4 Ibid., 112.
This is interesting in the context of the 1984 movie version of the story. The film brings up the theme of independent thought over following instructions a bit more blatantly than the book does.

5 Ibid., 150.

6 Ibid., 165.

7 Ibid., 167-168.

8 Ibid., 202.

9 Ibid., 203.
This reminded me very much of a quote of Einstein’s: “I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation [and] is but a reflection of human frailty.”

10 Ibid., 209.

11 Ibid., 215.