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The Heart of the Matter

Critique • Quotes

The Heart of the Matter, 1948First edition
By Graham Greene
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Approx. 88,000 words

Notable lines

Wilson sat on the balcony of the Bedford Hotel with his bald pink knees thrust against the ironwork.

— First line

He was like a dog. Nobody had yet drawn on his face the lines that make a human being.


Point me out the happy man and I will point you out either extreme egotism, evil—or else an absolute ignorance.


In our hearts there is a ruthless dictator, ready to contemplate the misery of a thousand strangers if it will ensure the happiness of the few we love.


In human relations kindness and lies are worth thousand lies.


When something became a case it no longer seemed to concern a human being.


"You must promise me. You can't desire the end without desiring the means."

Ah, but one can, he thought, one can: one can desire the peace of victory without desiring the ravaged towns."


No one can speak a monologue for long alone—another voice will always make itself heard; every monologue sooner or later becomes a discussion.


We are all of us resigned to death: it's life we aren't resigned to.


The greying hair, the line of nerves upon the face, the thickening body held him as her beauty never had.... It isn't beauty that we love, he thought, it's failure—the failure to stay young forever, the failure of nerves, the failure of the body. Beauty is like success: we can't love it for long.


"He certain loved no one else," she said.

"And you may be in the right of it there too," Father Rank replied.

— Last lines


Critique • Quotes