f. scott fitzgerald Quotes

F. Scott Fitzgerald Quotes

Birth Date: 1896-09-24 (Thursday, September 24th, 1896)
Date of Death: 1986-06-18 (Wednesday, June 18th, 1986)

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is first published in New York City, by Charles Scribner s Sons.Friday, April 10th, 1925

Quotes

    • All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
    • 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.
    • Whenever you feel like criticizing any one... just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.
    • So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
    • Sometimes it is harder to deprive oneself of a pain than of a pleasure.
    • One writes of scars healed, a loose parallel to the pathology of the skin, but there is no such thing in the life of an individual. There open wounds, shrunk sometimes to the size of a pinprick, but wounds still. The marks of suffering are more comparable to the loss of a finger, or of the sight of an eye. We may not miss them, either, for one minute in a year, but if we should there is nothing to be done about it.
    • '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.'
    • I hate the place like poison with a sincere hatred.
    • In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning, day after day.
    • Before I go on with this short history, let me make a general observation- the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise. This philosophy fitted on to my early adult life, when I saw the improbable, the implausible, often the 'impossible,' come true.
    • My generation of radicals and breakers-down never found anything to take the place of the old virtues of work and courage and the old graces of courtesy and politeness.
    • Once one is caught up into the material world not one person in ten thousand finds the time to form literary taste, to examine the validity of philosophic concepts for himself, or to form what, for lack of a better phrase, I might call the wise and tragic sense of life.
    • Isn't Hollywood a dump-in the human sense of the word. A hideous town, pointed up by the insulting gardens of its rich, full of the human spirit at a new low of debasement.
    • How strange to have failed as a social creature-even criminals do not fail that way-they are the law's 'Loyal Opposition,' so to speak. But the insane are always mere guests on earth, eternal strangers carrying around broken decalogues that they cannot read.
    • Great art is the contempt of a great man for small art.
    • Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.
    • It is in the thirties that we want friends. In the forties we know they won't save us any more than love did.
    • Faint winds, and far away a fading laughter... And the rain and over the fields a voice calling...
    • The shadow of a dove Falls on the cote, the trees are filled with wings; And down the valley through the crying trees The body of the darker storm flies; brings With its new air the breath of sunken seas And slender tenuous thunder . . . But I wait . . . Wait for the mists and for the blacker rain- Heavier winds that stir the veil of fate, Happier winds that pile her hair; Again They tear me, teach me, strew the heavy air Upon me, winds that I know, and storm.
    • 'I simply state that I'm a product of a versatile mind in a restless generation-with every reason to throw my mind and pen in with the radicals. Even if, deep in my heart, I thought we were all blind atoms in a world as limited as a stroke of a pendulum, I and my sort would struggle against tradition; try, at least, to displace old cants with new ones. I've thought I was right about life at various times, but faith is difficult. One thing I know. If living isn't seeking for the grail it may be a damned amusing game.
    • A big man has no time really to do anything but just sit and be big.
    • People try so hard to believe in leaders now, pitifully hard. But we no sooner get a popular reformer or politician or soldier or writer or philosopher-a Roosevelt, a Tolstoi, a Wood, a Shaw, a Nietzsche, than the cross-currents of criticism wash him away. My Lord, no man can stand prominence these days. It's the surest path to obscurity. People get sick of hearing the same name over and over.
    • Look at you; you're on The New Democracy, considered the most brilliant weekly in the country, read by the men who do things and all that. What's your business? Why, to be as clever, as interesting, and as brilliantly cynical as possible about every man, doctrine, book, or policy that is assigned you to deal with. The more strong lights, the more spiritual scandal you can throw on the matter, the more money they pay you, the more the people buy the issue.
    • And he could not tell why the struggle was worth while, why he had determined to use the utmost himself and his heritage from the personalities he has passed....
    • Here was a new generation, shouting the old cries, learning the old creeds, through a revery of long days and nights; destined finally to go out into that dirty gray turmoil to follow love and pride; a new generation dedicated more than the last to the fear of poverty and the worship of success; grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken. . . .
    • He stretched his arms to the crystalline, radiant sky. 'I know myself,' he cried, 'but that is all-'
    • There was no God in his heart, he knew; his ideas were still in riot; there was ever the pain of memory; the regret for his lost youth--yet the waters of disillusion had left a deposit on his soul, responsibility and a love of life, the faint stirring of old ambitions and unrealized dreams.
    • 'The truth is that the public has done one of those startling and amazing things that they do about once in a hundred years. They've seized an idea.' 'What is it?' 'That however the brains and abilities of men may differ, their stomachs are essentially the same.'
    • The victor belongs to the spoils.
    • In 1913, when Anthony Patch was twenty-five, two years were already gone since irony, the Holy Ghost of this later day, had, theoretically at least, descended upon him.
    • As you first see him he wonders frequently whether he is not without honor and slightly mad, a shameful and obscene thinness glistening on the surface of the world like oil on a clean pond, these occasions being varied, of course, with those in which he thinks himself rather an exceptional young man, thoroughly sophisticated, well adjusted to his environment, and somewhat more significant than any one else he knows. This was his healthy state and it made him cheerful, pleasant, and very attractive to intelligent men and to all women. In this state he considered that he would one day accomplish some quiet subtle thing that the elect would deem worthy and, passing on, would join the dimmer stars in a nebulous, indeterminate heaven half-way between death and immortality. Until the time came for this effort he would be Anthony Patch-not a portrait of a man but a distinct and dynamic personality, opinionated, contemptuous, functioning from within outward-a man who was aware that there could be no honor and yet had honor, who knew the sophistry of courage and yet was brave.
    • To Anthony life was a struggle against death, that waited at every corner. It was as a concession to his hypochondriacal imagination that he formed the habit of reading in bed-it soothed him. He read until he was tired and often fell asleep with the lights still on.
    • Curiously enough he found in senior year that he had acquired a position in his class. He learned that he was looked upon as a rather romantic figure, a scholar, a recluse, a tower of erudition. This amused him but secretly pleased him-he began going out, at first a little and then a great deal.
    • Jim Powell was a Jelly-bean. Much as I desire to make him an appealing character, I feel that it would be unscrupulous to deceive you on that point. He was a bred-in-the-bone, dyed-in-the-wool, ninety-nine three-quarters per cent Jelly-bean and he grew lazily all during Jelly-bean season, which is every season, down in the land of the Jelly-beans well below the Mason-Dixon line.
    • 'Jelly-bean' is the name throughout the undissolved Confederacy for one who spends his life conjugating the verb to idle in the first person singular-I am idling, I have idled, I will idle.
    • The street was hot at three and hotter still at four, the April dust seeming to enmesh the sun and give it forth again as a world-old joke forever played on an eternity of afternoons. But at half past four a first layer of quiet fell and the shades lengthened under the awnings and heavy foliaged trees. In this heat nothing mattered. All life was weather, a waiting through the hot where events had no significance for the cool that was soft and caressing like a woman's hand on a tired forehead.
    • This somewhat unpleasant tale, published as a novelette in the 'Smart Set' in July, 1920, relates a series of events which took place in the spring of the previous year. Each of the three events made a great impression upon me. In life they were unrelated, except by the general hysteria of that spring which inaugurated the Age of Jazz, but in my story I have tried, unsuccessfully I fear, to weave them into a pattern-a pattern which would give the effect of those months in New York as they appeared to at least one member of what was then the younger generation.
    • There had been a war fought and won and the great city of the conquering people was crossed with triumphal arches and vivid with thrown flowers of white, red, and rose.
    • Mr. In and Mr. Out are not listed by the census-taker. You will search for them in vain through the social register or the births, marriages, and deaths, or the grocer's credit list. Oblivion has swallowed them and the testimony that they ever existed at all is vague and shadowy, and inadmissible in a court of law. Yet I have it upon the best authority that for a brief space Mr. In and Mr. Out lived, breathed, answered to their names and radiated vivid personalities of their own. During the brief span of their lives they walked in their native garments down the great highway of a great nation; were laughed at, sworn at, chased, and fled from. Then they passed and were heard of no more.
    • You're a historian. Tell me if there are any bath-tubs in history. I think they've been frightfully neglected.
    • One well-known critic has been pleased to like this extravaganza better than anything I have written. Personally I prefer 'The Offshore Pirate.' But, to tamper slightly with Lincoln: If you like this sort of thing, this, possibly, is the sort of thing you'll like.
    • John T. Unger came from a family that had been well known in Hades-a small town on the Mississippi River-for several generations.
    • 'The Schnlitzer-Murphys had diamonds as big as walnuts-' 'That's nothing.' Percy had leaned forward and dropped his voice to a low whisper. 'That's nothing at all. My father has a diamond bigger than the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.'
    • It was an amazing predicament. He was, in one sense, the richest man that ever lived-and yet was he worth anything at all? If his secret should transpire there was no telling to what measures the Government might resort in order to prevent a panic, in gold as well as in jewels. They might take over the claim immediately and institute a monopoly.
    • At any rate, let us love for a while, for a year or so, you and me. That's a form of divine drunkenness that we can all try. There are only diamonds in the whole world, diamonds and perhaps the shabby gift of disillusion.
    • There's a right way of doing things and a wrong way. If you've made up your mind to be different from everybody else, I don't suppose I can stop you, but I really don't think it's very considerate.
    • You're simply stubborn. You think you don't want to be like any one else. You always have been that way, and you always will be. But just think how it would be if every one else looked at things as you do-what would the world be like?
    • It was no affair for the watch: Satan was at large tonight and Satan seemed to be he who appeared dimly in front, heel over gate, knee over fence. Moreover, the adversary was obviously travelling near home or at least in that section of London consecrated to his coarser whims, for the street narrowed like a road in a picture and the houses bent over further and further, cooping in natural ambushes suitable for murder and its histrionic sister, sudden death.
    • He read at wine, he read in bed, He read aloud, had he the breath, His every thought was with the dead, And so he read himself to death.
    • The years between thirty-five and sixty-five revolve before the passive mind as one unexplained, confusing merry-go-round. True, they are a merry-go-round of ill-gaited and wind-broken horses, painted first in pastel colors, then in dull grays and browns, but perplexing and intolerably dizzy the thing is, as never were the merry-go-rounds of childhood or adolescence; as never, surely, were the certain-coursed, dynamic roller-coasters of youth. For most men and women these thirty years are taken up with a gradual withdrawal from life, a retreat first from a front with many shelters, those myriad amusements and curiosities of youth, to a line with less, when we peel down our ambitions to one ambition, our recreations to one recreation, our friends to a few to whom we are anaesthetic; ending up at last in a solitary, desolate strong point that is not strong, where the shells now whistle abominably, now are but half-heard as, by turns frightened and tired, we sit waiting for death.
    • 'O Russet Witch!'
    • Merlin went up-stairs very quietly at nine o'clock. When he was in his room and had closed the door tight he stood by it for a moment, his thin limbs trembling. He knew now that he had always been a fool. 'O Russet Witch!' But it was too late. He had angered Providence by resisting too many temptations. There was nothing left but heaven, where he would meet only those who, like him, had wasted earth.
    • Of this story I can say that it came to me in an irresistible form, crying to be written. It will be accused perhaps of being a mere piece of sentimentality, but, as I saw it, it was a great deal more. If, therefore, it lacks the ring of sincerity, or even, of tragedy, the fault rests not with the theme but with my handling of it.
    • Those were the days of 'Florodora' and of sextets, of pinched-in waists and blown-out sleeves, of almost bustles and absolute ballet skirts, but here, without doubt, disguised as she might be by the unaccustomed stiffness and old fashion of her costume, was a butterfly of butterflies. Here was the gayety of the period-the soft wine of eyes, the songs that flurried hearts, the toasts and tie bouquets, the dances and the dinners. Here was a Venus of the hansom, cab, the Gibson girl in her glorious prime. Here was...
    • It was a marriage of love. He was sufficiently spoiled to be charming; she was ingenuous enough to be irresistible. Like two floating logs they met in a head-on rush, caught, and sped along together.
    • There is a sort of waking nightmare that sets in sometimes when one has missed a sleep or two, a feeling that comes with extreme fatigue and a new sun, that the quality of the life around has changed. It is a fully articulate conviction that somehow the existence one is then leading is a branch shoot of life and is related to life only as a moving picture or a mirror-that the people, and streets, and houses are only projections from a very dim and chaotic past.
    • That Kitty was capable of any deep grief was unbelievable. He had gradually grown to think of her as something unapproachable and callous. She would get a divorce, of course, and eventually she would marry again. He began to consider this. Whom would she marry? He laughed bitterly, stopped; a picture flashed before him-of Kitty's arms around some man whose face he could not see, of Kitty's lips pressed close to other lips in what was surely: passion.
    • Summer was gone and now Indian summer. The grass was cold and there was no mist and no dew. After he left she would go in and light the gas and close the shatters, and he would go down the path and on to the village. To these two life had come quickly and gone, leaving not bitterness, but pity; not disillusion, but only pain.
    • They're all deserting me. I've been too kind. Spare the rod and spoil the fun. Oh, for the glands of a Bismarck.
    • The farmers may be the backbone of the country, but who wants to be a backbone?
    • I care not who hoes the lettuce of my country if I can eat the salad!
    • Thirty-the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair.
    • Family quarrels are bitter things. They don't go according to any rules. They are not like aches or wounds; they are more like splits in the skin that won't heal because there is not enough material.
    • 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.
    • An unread book is just a block of paper.
    • A series of scenes put in a particular order designed to leave the viewer with no choice but to feel one particular way.
    • At 18 our convictions are hills from which we look; At 45 they are caves in which we hide.
    • Baseball is a game played by idiots for morons.
    • First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.
    • 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 in your mind.
    • He was one of those men who comes in a door and make any woman with them look guilty.
    • Riding in a taxi one afternoon between very tall buildings under a mauve and rosy sky; I began to bawl because I had everything I wanted and knew I would never be so happy again
    • I was the spark that lit up Flaming Youth, Colleen Moore was the torch. What little things we are to have caused all that trouble.
    • If you're strong enough, there are no precedents.
    • 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 takes a genius to whine appealingly.
    • Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.
    • 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.
    • Nothing is beneath you if it is in the direction of your life.
    • 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.
    • See that little stream, we could walk to it in two minutes. It took the British a whole month to walk to it, a whole empire walking very slowly, dying in front and pushing forward behind. And another empire walked very slowly backward a few inches a day, leaving the dead like a million bloody rugs.
    • She's got to be a loyal, frank person if she's got to bitch everyone in the world to do it.
    • Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.
    • The compensation of a very early success is a conviction that life is a romantic matter. In the best sense, one stays young.
    • The rhythm of the weekend, with its birth, its planned gaieties, and its announced end, followed the rhythm of life and was a substitute for it.
    • The world, as a rule, does not live on beaches and in country clubs.
    • There are no days in life so memorable as those which vibrated to some stroke of the imagination.
    • There are no second acts in American lives.
    • Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.
    • You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.
    • Young people do not perceive at once that the giver of wounds is the enemy and the quoted tattle merely the arrow.
    • At the heart of every great fortune lies a great crime.
    • You can take off your hats now, gentlemen, and I think perhaps you had better. This is not a legend, this is a reputation - and seen in perspective, it may well be one of the most secure reputations of our time.
    • He had one of the rarest qualities in all literature, and it's a great shame that the word for it has been thoroughly debased by the cosmetic racketeers, so that one is almost ashamed to use it to describe a real distinction. Nevertheless, the word is charm - charm as Keats would have used it. Who has it today? It's not a matter of pretty writing or clear style. It's a kind of subdued magic, controlled and exquisite, the sort of thing you get from good string quartettes.
    • His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless.
    • Fitzgerald was a better just plain writer than all of us put together. Just words writing.
    • The real Scott is to be found in his notebooks and working papers, where he elaborated so patiently at turning the mess of his life to gold. 'To observe one must be unwary,' he wrote, so he took experience straight without a notebook. But he later hoarded it like a miser and pored over it like a monk illuminating a manuscript and produced enduring work. When a writer explores emotions to danger point like Scott, it is worse than philistine to talk about weakness of character. The whole moral test is in the books. The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night are all the character reference a writer could want.
    • f. scott fitzgerald

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