Reason is excellent for getting food, clothing and shelter. Reason is the very best tool kit. Nothing beats reason for keeping tigers away. But be excessively reasonable and you risk throwing out the universe with the bathwater.
Scientists are a friendly, atheistic, hard-working, beer-drinking lot whose minds are preoccupied with sex, chess and baseball when they are not preoccupied with science.
Chapter 1, p. 5
The reason death sticks so closely to life isn't biological necessity — it's envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.
Chapter 1, p. 6
Animals in the wild lead lives of compulsion and necessity within an unforgiving social hierarchy in an environment where the supply of fear is high and the supply of food is low and where territory must constantly be defended and parasites forever endured.
Chapter 4, p. 17
To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
Chapter 7, p. 31
Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims.
Chapter 16, pp. 54–55
"Bapu Gandhi said, 'All religions are true.' I just want to love God," I blurted out, and looked down, red in the face.
Chapter 23, p. 76
For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.
Chapter 25, p. 78
I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life.
Chapter 56, p. 178
It was Richard Parker who calmed me down. It is the irony of this story that the one who scared me witless to start with was the very same who brought me peace, purpose, I dare say even wholeness.
Chapter 57, p. 179
I did not count the days or the weeks or the months. Time is an illusion that only makes us pant. I survived because I forgot even the very notion of time.
Chapter 63, p. 212
My greatest wish — other than salvation — was to have a book.
Chapter 73, p. 230
I cannot think of a better way to spread the faith. No thundering from a pulpit, no condemnation from bad churches, no peer pressure, just a book of scripture quietly waiting to say hello, as gentle and powerful as a little girl's kiss on your cheek.
Chapter 73, p. 230
Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was a hell beyond expression. I thank God it always passed. A school of fish appeared around the net or a knot cried out to be reknotted. Or I thought of my family, of how they were spared this terrible agony. The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving.
Chapter 74, p. 232
There were many seas. The sea roared like a tiger. The sea whispered in your ear like a friend telling you secrets. The sea clinked like small change in a pocket. The sea thundered like avalanches. The sea hissed like sandpaper working on wood. The sea sounded like someone vomiting. The sea was dead silent.
Chapter 78, p. 239
Then Richard Parker, companion of my torment, awful, fierce thing that kept me alive, moved forward and disappeared forever from my life.
Chapter 94, p. 316
I was weeping because Richard Parker left me so unceremoniously. What a terrible thing it is to botch the farewell. I am a person who believes in form, in the harmony of order. Where we can, we must give things meaningful shape.
Chapter 94, p. 316
If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for? Isn't love hard to believe?
Chapter 99, p. 330
Don't you bully me with your politeness! Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?
Chapter 99, p. 330
I applied my reason at every moment. Reason is excellent for getting food, clothing and shelter. Reason is the very best tool kit. Nothing beats reason for keeping tigers away. But be excessively reasonable and you risk throwing out the universe with the bathwater.
Chapter 99, pp. 330–331
I know what you want. You want a story that won't surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won't make you see higher or further or differently. You want a flat story. An immobile story. You want dry, yeastless factuality.
Unless otherwise noted, page numbers refer to the 2010 edition from Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada. ISBN 0-307-39877-2
Colonialism is a terrible bane for a people upon whom it is imposed, but a blessing for a language. English's drive to exploit the new and the alien, its zeal in robbing words from other languages, its incapacity to feel qualms over the matter, its museum-size overabundance of vocabulary, its shoulder-shrug approach to spelling, its don't-worry-be-happy concern for grammar—the result was a language whose colour and wealth Henry loved. In his entirely personal experience of [languages], English was jazz music, German was classical music, French was ecclesiastical music, and Spanish was music from the streets. Which is to say, stab his heart and it would bleed French, slice his brain open and its convolutions would be lined with English and German, and touch his hands and they would feel Spanish.
An apple resists being eaten. An apple is not eaten, it is conquered. The crunchiness of a pear is far more appealing. It is giving and fragile. To eat a pear is akin to … kissing.
[The taxidermist is] a historian, dealing with an animal's past; the zookeeper is a politician, dealing with an animal's present; and everyone else is a citizen who must decide on that animal's future (...) The indifference of the many, combined with the active hatred of the few, has sealed the fate of animals.
To my mind, faith is like being in the sun. When you are in the sun, can you avoid creating a shadow? Can you shake that area of darkness that clings to you, always shaped like you, as if constantly to remind you of yourself? You can't. This shadow is doubt. And it goes wherever you go as long as you stay in the sun. And who wouldn't want to be in the sun?
Words are cold, muddy toads trying to understand sprites dancing in a field.
Here was irrefutable proof that he was using the Holocaust to speak of the extermination of animal life. Doomed creatures that could not speak for themselves were being given the voice of a most articulate people who had been similarly doomed. He was seeing the tragic fate of animals through the tragic fate of Jews. The Holocaust as allegory.
I remember the first slap, just as I was being brought in. Already then something was lost forever, a basic trust. If there's an exquisite collection of Meissen porcelain and a man takes a cup and deliberately drops it to the floor, shattering it, why wouldn't he then proceed to break everything else? What difference does it make, cup or tureen, once the man has made clear his disregard for porcelain? With that first blow, something akin to porcelain shattered in me. It was a hard slap, forceful yet casual, given for no reason, before I had even identified myself. If they would do that to me, why wouldn't they do worse? Indeed, how could they stop themselves? A single blow is a dot, meaningless. It's a line that is wanted, a connection between the dots that will give purpose and direction. One blow demands a second and then a third and onwards.