50 Novel Quotes That Explain Why Readers and Writers of Fiction aren’t Surprised About Trump

The ways in which the powerful govern/rule over its people says everything about who we are at the core. Which is why, from the great classic novels to modern day fantasy and dystopian novels, this relationship has always been and continues to be a topic of great examination and intrigue.


The list below includes quotes from many popular authors. I wonder if it only coincidence or deep insight that novels like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner and Divergent have become so widespread and widely read in recent years. I find it fitting that both of my teenage daughters had units devoted to dystopian novels in their English classes in the last several years.

In addition, this list includes quotes from Machiavelli’s The Prince, Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and A Game of Thrones. Certainly no list about the reality of today’s dangerous world would be complete without a couple quotes from the master of horror himself, Stephen King.

Let us begin our list with George Orwell. No one painted today’s actual reality and more-possible-than-ever reality better than he did in his book 1984. It is for this reason that this novel is currently experiencing a renaissance. He may have gotten the year wrong, but the world he depicted in a once entertaining book now strikes fear in my heart.

George Orwell (1984)

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”

“Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else.”

“One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”

“If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?”

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

“…the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival.”

“The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.”

Aldous Huxley (Brave New World)

“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

“A love of nature keeps no factories busy.”

“We don’t want to change. Every change is a menace to stability.”

Niccolò Machiavelli (The Prince and other writings)

“I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.”

“People should either be caressed or crushed. If you do them minor damage they will get their revenge; but if you cripple them there is nothing they can do. If you need to injure someone, do it in such a way that you do not have to fear their vengeance.”

“Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved”

“Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration.”

J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series)

“The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games Series)

“Destroying things is much easier than making them.”

“Listen up. You’re in trouble. Word is the Capitol’s furious about you showing them up in the arena. The one thing they can’t stand is being laughed at and they’re the joke of Panem.”

“It’s to the Capitol’s advantage to have us divided among ourselves. Another tool to cause misery in our district. A way to plant hatred between the starving workers [of the Seam] and those who can generally count on supper and thereby ensure we will never trust one another.”

James Dashner (The Maze Runner Series)

“I don’t think there is a right or wrong anymore. Only horrible and not-quite-so-horrible.”

“Such a display of death – how could it be considered a victory?”

Veronica Roth (Divergent Series)

“Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again.”

“Lies require commitment.”

“There is power in controlling something that can do so much damage – in controlling something, period.”

Lois Lowry (The Giver)

“Of course they needed to care. It was the meaning of everything.”

“I don’t know what you mean when you say ‘the whole world’ or ‘generations before him.’I thought there was only us. I thought there was only now.”

“The community of the Giver had achieved at such great price. A community without danger or pain. But also, a community without music, color or art. And books.”

Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange)

“Is it better for a man to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon him?”

“The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities.”

George R.R. Martin (A Game of Thrones)

“Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”

“Why is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones?”

Sinclair Lewis (It Can’t Happen Here)

“He loved the people just as much as he feared and detested persons.”

“Why, America’s the only free nation on earth. Besides! Country’s too big for a revolution. No, no! Couldn’t happen here!”

“Why are you so afraid of the word ‘Fascism,’ Doremus? Just a word—just a word! And might not be so bad, with all the lazy bums we got panhandling relief nowadays, and living on my income tax and yours—not so worse to have a real Strong Man, like Hitler or Mussolini—like Napoleon or Bismarck in the good old days—and have ‘em really run the country and make it efficient and prosperous again. ‘Nother words, have a doctor who won’t take any back-chat, but really boss the patient and make him get well whether he likes it or not!”

Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale)

“We thought we had such problems. How were we to know we were happy?”

“Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.”

“That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.”

“Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it really isn’t about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.”

Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me)

“I never thought it would get this bad. I never thought the Reestablishment would take things so far. They’re incinerating culture, the beauty of diversity. The new citizens of our world will be reduced to nothing but numbers, easily interchangeable, easily removable, easily destroyed for disobedience. We have lost our humanity.”

“The truth,” he says, “is a painful reminder of why I prefer to live among the lies.”

Iain Banks (Complicity)

“The point is, there is no feasible excuse for what are, for what we have made of ourselves. We have chosen to put profits before people, money before morality, dividends before decency, fanaticism before fairness, and our own trivial comforts before the unspeakable agonies of others.”

Andy Goldman (The Only City Left)

“I’m sorry if humans mistreated your people in the past, but if we don’t join together now, it’s time to admit that we’re all just keeping busy while we wait for the Earth to die.”

Douglas Adams (Mostly Harmless & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”

“Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.”

“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

“Did I do anything wrong today,” he said, “or has the world always been like this and I’ve been too wrapped up in myself to notice?”

C.S. Lewis (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

“People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time.”

Stephen King (The Running Man)

He understood well enough how a man with a choice between pride and responsibility will almost always choose pride–if responsibility robs him of his manhood.”

“In the year 2025, the best men don’t run for president, they run for their lives. . . .”

Now that we know are are no longer surprised, it is time to take action. We find ourselves living in a time rich with opportunity to put into action all that we’ve practiced.

Authentic spiritual practice requires we accept this basic truth—no bypassing, no bubbles of pretty light, no wishful thinking that this is all “someone else’s problem” or hoping that “our Constitutional principles will save us.”

And any attempt to separate politics from spirituality is a futile attempt to separate the heart from the mind, the soul from the body, our capacities for evil from our capacities to illicit change when we care about one another.

There is no better time.

There are no better, wiser, more prepared people.

We are all the heroes we are looking for.

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