A big man has no time really to do anything but just sit and be big.
A great social success is a pretty girl who plays her cards as carefully as if she were plain.
Action is character.
Advertising is a racket, like the movies and the brokerage business. You cannot be honest without admitting that its constructive contribution to humanity is exactly minus zero.
After all, life hasn’t much to offer except youth, and I suppose for older people, the love of youth in others.
All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever afterwards.
At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look; at forty-five they are caves in which we hide.
Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.
Either you think, or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.
Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues.
Everybody’s youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness.
Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t go according to any rules. They’re not like aches or wounds, they’re more like splits in the skin that won’t heal because there’s not enough material.
First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.
For awhile after you quit Keats all other poetry seems to be only whistling or humming.
Forgotten is forgiven.
Genius goes around the world in its youth incessantly apologizing for having large feet. What wonder that later in life it should be inclined to raise those feet too swiftly to fools and bores.
Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind.
Great art is the contempt of a great man for small art.
Her body calculated to a millimeter to suggest a bud yet guarantee a flower.
His was a great sin who first invented consciousness. Let us lose it for a few hours.
I like people and I like them to like me, but I wear my heart where God put it, on the inside.
I’m a romantic; a sentimental person thinks things will last, a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t.
I’ve been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library.
In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.
It is in the thirties that we want friends. In the forties we know they won’t save us any more than love did.
It is sadder to find the past again and find it inadequate to the present than it is to have it elude you and remain forever a harmonious conception of memory.
It occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.
It’s not a slam at you when people are rude, it’s a slam at the people they’ve met before.
Life is essentially a cheat and its conditions are those of defeat; the redeeming things are not happiness and pleasure but the deeper satisfactions that come out of struggle.
Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known.
My idea is always to reach my generation. The wise writer writes for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterward.
Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.
No decent career was ever founded on a public.
No grand idea was ever born in a conference, but a lot of foolish ideas have died there.
No such thing as a man willing to be honest – that would be like a blind man willing to see.
Nothing is as obnoxious as other people’s luck.
Often people display a curious respect for a man drunk, rather like the respect of simple races for the insane… There is something awe-inspiring in one who has lost all inhibitions.
Only remember west of the Mississippi it’s a little more look, see, act. A little less rationalize, comment, talk.
Personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures.
Riches have never fascinated me, unless combined with the greatest charm or distinction.
Scratch a Yale man with both hands and you’ll be lucky to find a coast-guard. Usually you find nothing at all.
Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.
Some men have a necessity to be mean, as if they were exercising a faculty which they had to partially neglect since early childhood.
Speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again.
Switzerland is a country where very few things begin, but many things end.
The compensation of a very early success is a conviction that life is a romantic matter. In the best sense one stays young.
The easiest way to get a reputation is to go outside the fold, shout around for a few years as a violent atheist or a dangerous radical, and then crawl back to the shelter.
The faces of most American women over thirty are relief maps of petulant and bewildered unhappiness.
The idea that to make a man work you’ve got to hold gold in front of his eyes is a growth, not an axiom. We’ve done that for so long that we’ve forgotten there’s any other way.
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
The victor belongs to the spoils.
The world, as a rule, does not live on beaches and in country clubs.
There are no second acts in American lives.
Though the Jazz Age continued it became less and less an affair of youth. The sequel was like a children’s party taken over by the elders.
To a profound pessimist about life, being in danger is not depressing.
To write it, it took three months; to conceive it three minutes; to collect the data in it all my life.
Trouble has no necessary connection with discouragement. Discouragement has a germ of its own, as different from trouble as arthritis is different from a stiff joint.
Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.
What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon? And the day after that, and the next thirty years?
When people are taken out of their depths they lose their heads, no matter how charming a bluff they may put up.
You can stroke people with words.
You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.