50 Books to Read Before You Die

words to inspire before you expire

Tag: Vice

“Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous, and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He appeared at one time a mere scion of the evil principle and at another as all that can be conceived of noble and godlike. To be a great and virtuous man appeared the highest honour that can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious, as many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a condition more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless worm.”

—from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The chaplain had mastered, in a moment of divine intuition, the handy technique of protective rationalization, and he was exhilarated by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”

—from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

“Henrietta had been taught by the conduct of both father and mother that every vice might be forgiven in a man and in a son, though every virtue was expected from a woman, and especially from a daughter.”

—from The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

“‘My little friend . . . you have clearly proved, that ignorance, idleness, and vice are the proper ingredients for qualifying a legislator; that laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied, by those whose interest and abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding them. I observe among you some lines of an institution, which, in its original, might have been tolerable; but these half erased, and the rest wholly blurred and blotted by corruptions.'”

—from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

“‘Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face.  It cannot be concealed.  People talk sometimes of secret vices.  There are no such things.  If a wretched man has a vice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth, the droop of his eyelids, the moulding of his hands even… But you, Dorian, with your pure, bright, innocent face and your marvelous untroubled youth–I can’t believe anything against you.'”

–from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde