The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

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Life is a long lesson in humility.
Sir James M. Barrie
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The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988) by Douglas Adams is a 1988 humorous fantasy detective novel by Douglas Adams. It is the second book by Adams featuring private detective Dirk Gently, the first being Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. The novel's title is a phrase which appeared in Adams's earlier novel Life, the Universe and Everything, but the novels are not otherwise related.

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Chapter 1

  • "It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression "As pretty as an airport." Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort. This ugliness arises because airports are full of people who are tired, cross, and have just discovered that their luggage has landed in Murmansk (Murmansk airport is the only exception of this otherwise infallible rule), and architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their designs."

Chapter 2

  • "Even British Nuclear Fuels rushed out a statement to the effect that it was a one in a million chance there was hardly any radioactive leakage at all and the site of the explosion would make for a nice location for a day out with the kids and a picnic, before finally having to admit that it wasn't actually anything to do with them at all."


  • "In fact, a very similar phrase was invented to account for the sudden transition of wood, metal, plastic and concrete into an explosive condition, which was "nonlinear, catastrophic structural exasperation," or to put it another way--as a junior cabinet minister did on television the following night in a phrase which was to haunt the rest of his career--the check-in desk had just got "fundamentally fed up with being where it was.""

Chapter 3

  • "You would probably not say that he was sleeping the sleep of the just, unless you meant the just asleep, but it was certainly the sleep of someone who was not fooling about when he climbed into bed of a night and turned off the light."
  • "The room was not a room to elevate the soul. Louis XIV, to pick a name at random, would not have liked it, would have found it not sunny enough, and insufficiently full of mirrors. He would have desired someone to pick up the socks, put the records away, and maybe burn the place down. Michelangelo would have been distressed by its proportions, which were neither lofty nor shaped by any noticeable inner harmony or symmetry, other than that all parts of the room were pretty much equally full of old coffee mugs, shoes and brimming ashtrays, most of which were now sharing their tasks with each other. The walls were painted in almost precisely that shade of green which Raffaello Sanzio would have bitten off his own right hand at the wrist rather than use, and Hercules, on seeing the room, would probably have returned half an hour later armed with a navigable river. It was, in short, a dump, and was likely to remain so for as long as it remained in the custody of Mr Svlad, or 'Dirk', Gently, né Cjelli."

External links

Wikisource has original text related to The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.