The Quotable Pratchett: Snuff

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away

With the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett and the publication of The Shepherd’s Crown, I embarked on an epic re-reading of all 41 official Discworld novels, with the goal of finishing by 31 December, 2016.

Famous for its wit and wisdom, the series offers countless quotable quotes on a variety of subjects. The quotes I share should not be considered the whole of Sir Terry’s excellent prose; indeed, they are the tasty appetizers to a succulent, nourishing meal.

About Snuff

This is the 39th Discworld novel and the 8th in the Watch series.


snuff-coverHis Grace the Duke of Ankh-Morpork and Commander of the City Watch, Sir Samuel Vimes has risen far, indeed, from the beaten alcoholic of Guards! Guards! to the family man we saw in Thud!

Now, his life is planned by Lady Sybil and Lord Vetinari, including his vacation to the country. Of course, as Vimes always says, “where there’s people, there’s crime” – true even (especially?) in the country. When he finds the country has different views of right and wrong and law, Vimes must find a way to right a wrong everyone admits happened but isn’t exactly illegal.

Meanwhile, back in Ankh-Morpork, Sgt. Fred Colon has been attacked by a singing cigar, and Carrot, Angua, Cheery, and Igor must find a way to break a curse before Fred’s life is drained away.

Throughout, we are challenged to ask ourselves: what is a person?

5 stars

The Goodreads Blurb:

According to the writer of the best-selling crime novel ever to have been published in the city of Ankh-Morpork, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse.

And Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder.

He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, and occasionally snookered and out of his mind, but never out of guile. Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment.

They say that in the end all sins are forgiven.

But not quite all . . .

To the Quotes!

Discworld Librarian

The Librarian as he appears in The Discworld Companion, illustrated by Paul Kidby

The basic problem remains and it is this: humanity may come to terms with the dwarf, the troll and even the orc, terrifying though all these may have proved to be at times, and you know why this is, Drumknott?

The secretary carefully folded the duster he had been using and looked at the ceiling. ‘I would venture to suggest, my lord, that in their violence we recognize ourselves?’

Oh, well done, Drumknott, I shall make a cynic of you yet! Predators respect other predators, do they not? They may perhaps even respect the prey: the lion may lie down with the lamb, even if only the lion is likely to get up again, but the lion will not lie down with the rat.

I have no particular objection to people taking substances that make them feel better or more contented, or, for that matter, see little dancing purple fairies — or even their god if it comes to that. It’s their brain, after all, and society can have no claim on it, providing they’re not operating heavy machinery at the time.

There was always paperwork. It is well known that any drive to reduce paperwork only results in extra paperwork.

A man who can win little battles is well set up to win big ones.

Life is addictive.

Not for him one or even two sad little bags of feathers as an afterthought to the bed – no! He liked pillows to burrow into and turn into some kind of soft fortress, leaving one hole for the oxygen supply.

Aristocrats don’t notice philosophical conundra. They just ignore them. Philosophy includes contemplating the possibility that you might be wrong, sir, and a real aristocrat knows that he is always right. It’s not vanity, you understand, it’s built-in absolute certainty. They may sometimes be as mad as a hatful of spoons, but they are always definitely and certainly mad.

The only important thing in a fight to the death is that the death should not be yours.

We live and learn . . . or perhaps more importantly, we learn and live.

Vimes had learned from Lord Vetinari that you should never react to any comment or situation until you had decided exactly what you were going to do. This had the dual attraction of preventing you from saying or doing the wrong thing while at the same time making other people extremely nervous.

That just goes to show that you never know, although what it is we never know I suspect we’ll never know.

The jurisdiction of a good man extends to the end of the world.

The melting pot melts in one direction only, and so we make progress.

Commander Vimes didn’t like the phrase ‘The innocent have nothing to fear’, believing the innocent had everything to fear, mostly from the guilty but in the longer term even more from those who say things like ‘The innocent have nothing to fear’.

What is normal? Normal is yesterday and last week and last month taken together.

It is a strange thing to find yourself doing something you have apparently always wanted to do, when in fact up until that moment you had never known that you had always wanted to do it, or even what it was . . .

Ankh-Morpork liked surprises, provided they didn’t involve the revenue.

It has been known, as people put it, for the leopard to change its shorts. All of us hope for a little redemption, whether if we deserve it or not.

They say that the eyes of some paintings can follow you around the room, a fact that I doubt, but I am wondering whether some music can follow you forever.

. . .

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