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Lonesome Dove Quotes About Life in the Days of the Old West

These Lonesome Dove quotes reveal many of the book’s themes such as friendship, unrequited love, old age, and death.

Lonesome Dove was a TV miniseries starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall, that premiered in 1989.

The show was an adaptation of American writer, Larry McMurtry’s 1985 Western novel. It revolved around the relationships and adventures of several retired Texas Rangers, who would drive cattle from Texas to Montana.

The show garnered both critical and popular acclaim. The novel was also a fan favorite, with readers enjoying the story set in the last years of the ‘Old West’.

Lonesome Dove Quotes About Life in the Days of the Old West

The book was a bestseller and won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. McMurtry went on to write a sequel, Streets of Laredo (1993), and two prequels, Dead Man’s Walk (1995) and Comanche Moon (1997), which were also adapted as TV series.

While Lonesome Dove was the first book published, chronologically it is the third in the series.

Keep reading through these Lonesome Dove quotes for some ‘Old West’ wisdom on love, life, and hard times.

Don’t forget to also check out these Paradise Lost quotes from John Milton about the fall of man

Lonesome Dove quotes about men and women

1. “The reason men are so awful is because some woman has spoiled them.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

2. “The smartest man alive can’t learn much about a woman in two weeks.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

3. “Figure the reason you don’t have much to say is you probably never met a man who liked to hear a woman talk.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

4. “A man that will go along with six killings is making his escape a little slow.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

5. “The woman had won. In the end, it seemed they always did.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

6. “If I had a mind to rent pigs, I’d be mighty upset. A man that likes to rent pigs won’t be stopped.” ― Larry McMurtry , Lonesome Dove

7. “You’re the only man I know whose brain don’t work unless it’s in the shade.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

8. “He wondered if all men felt such disappointment when thinking of themselves. He didn’t know.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

9. “The other men were easy to talk to, but they didn’t know anything. If one stopped to think about it, it was depressing how little most men learned in their lifetimes.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

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10. “They respected only the strong men who could not be insulted without a price being paid in blood.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

11. “She had a beautiful face, a beautiful body, but also a distance in her such as he had never met a woman.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

12. “He liked to get off by himself, a mile or so from camp, and listen to the country, not the men.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

Wise and inspirational Lonesome Dove quotes

13. “If you want one thing too much it’s likely to be a disappointment. The healthy way is to learn to like the everyday things, like soft beds and buttermilk—and feisty gentlemen.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

14. “Yesterday’s gone on down the river and you can’t get it back.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

15. “The older the violin, the sweeter the music.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

16. “The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

17. “I think its a sickness to grieve too much for those who never cared a fig for you.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

18. “The crimes the law can understand are not the worst crimes.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

19. “It ain’t a mistake to behave like a human being once in a while.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

20. “Better by far never to have known the pleasure than to have the pain that followed.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

21. “It’s a fine world, though rich in hardships at times.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

22. “Young things mainly belong to themselves. How they grow up depends on who gets attached to them.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

23. “Don’t be trying to give back pain for pain…You can’t get even measures in business like this.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

24. “The whole point of loyalty was not to change: stick with those who stuck with you.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove quotes about life and love

25. “I don’t see how being married could be any worse than listening to you talk for twenty years, but that still ain’t much of a recommendation for it.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

26. “Life makes everybody strange, if you keep living long enough.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

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27. “Best to help such boys have their moment of fun, before life’s torments snatched them.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

28. “Several times in his life he had felt an intense desire to start over, to somehow turn back the clock of his life to a point where he might, if he were careful, avoid the many mistakes he had made the first time around.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

29.“Occasionally the very youngness of the young moved him to charity—they had no sense of the swiftness of life, nor of its limits.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

30. “Once started, love couldn’t easily be stopped.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

31. “He loved the way she smelled in the mornings; he liked to sniff at her shoulders or her throat.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

32. “It seemed to him harder, as he got older, to find a simple way of life.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

Short Lonesome Dove quotes

33. “I never met a soul in this world as normal as me.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

34. “Anyway, whacking a surly bartender ain’t much of a crime.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

35. “Death and worse happened on the plains.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

36. “From him to the stars, in all directions, there was only silence and emptiness.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

37. “He was tired of seeing his family only in dreams.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

38. “I think we spent our best years fighting on the wrong side.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

39. “People got opinions, that’s all they’ve got.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

40. “Incompetents invariably made trouble for people other than themselves.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

41. “Perhaps as he grew older he would learn to trust mysteries and not fear them.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

Profound Lonesome Dove quotes about tough times and rough days

42. “I’m sure partial to the evening,’ Augustus said. ‘The evening and the morning. If we just didn’t have to have the rest of the dern day I’d be a lot happier.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

43. “It’s like I told you last night son. The earth is mostly just a boneyard. But pretty in the sunlight.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

44. “You don’t look strong enough to trouble nobody around here…. We grow our own troubles–it would be a novelty to have some we ain’t already used to.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

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45. “He knew what he could certainly do, and what he might do if he was lucky, and what he couldn’t do barring a miracle.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

46. “You’re like a starving person whose stomach is shrunk up from not having any food. You’re shrunk up from not wanting nothing.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

47. “His memories were too sad, his hopes too thin. To have to say things on paper seemed a terrible task, for it stirred the memories.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

48. “It’s funny, leaving a place, ain’t it?” he said. “You never do know when you’ll get back.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

49. “We mostly quarreled. He wanted what I wouldn’t give. I wanted what he didn’t have.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

50. “His purpose was to get done what needed to be done, and what needed to be done was simple, if not easy.” ― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

Which of these Lonesome Dove quotes is your favorite?

An interesting fact about Lonesome Dove is that it actually started out as a script! McMurtry and Peter Bogdanovich had tremendous success working together on The Last Picture Show in 1971. The pair were excited to collaborate again, this time creating a Western.

However, the actors they had in mind (Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, and John Wayne) did not like the script. McMurtry stated that the “script languished in development hell for 12 years.” He eventually bought back the rights for $35, 000 and decided to adapt the story as a novel. Ironically, it found its way back to a script for the TV show!

Jake Spoon, a retired ranger who is on the run for shooting a dentist, has spent a decade traveling all over the United States in an attempt to avoid the dentist’s brother, Sheriff July Johnson. His description of Montana inspires his other ranger friends to drive cattle along the Yellowstone River so they can experience the beauty for themselves.

As a Montanan, I will say it is gorgeous up here and if you haven’t been, then you should make a trip! Maybe, not one as perilous as a cross country cattle drive…but still!

What are some of your favorite quotes from Lonesome Dove? You can let us know in the comment section below!

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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