george bernard shaw Quotes

George Bernard Shaw Quotes

Birth Date: 1856-07-26 (Saturday, July 26th, 1856)
Date of Death: 1950-11-02 (Thursday, November 2nd, 1950)

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George Bernard Shaw refuses to accept the money for his Nobel Prize, saying, "I can forgive Alfred Nobel for inventing dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize."Thursday, November 18th, 1926

Quotes

    • The liar's punishment is, not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe any one else.
    • My method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity.
    • We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.
    • I'm only a beer teetotaler, not a champagne teetotaler. I don't like beer.
    • We don't bother much about dress and manners in England, because as a nation we don't dress well and we've no manners.
    • The great advantage of a hotel is that it's a refuge from home life.
    • My specialty is being right when other people are wrong.
    • There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.
    • You're not a man, you're a machine.
    • Why should you call me to account for eating decently?
    • The novelties of one generation are only the resuscitated fashions of the generation before last.
    • The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
    • Martyrdom, sir, is what these people like: it is the only way in which a man can become famous without ability.
    • You must not suppose, because I am a man of letters, that I never tried to earn an honest living.
    • [Chess] is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever, when they are only wasting their time.
    • To understand a saint, you must hear the devil's advocate; and the same is true of the artist.
    • Why was I born with such contemporaries?
    • The word morality, if we met it in the Bible, would surprise us as much as the word telephone or motor car.
    • That proves it's not by Shaw, because all Shaw's characters are himself: mere puppets stuck up to spout Shaw.
    • As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death.
    • All great truths begin as blasphemies.
    • You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.
    • You see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream things as they never were and ask, 'Why not?'
    • Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.
    • Political necessities sometimes turn out to be political mistakes.
    • Scratch an Englishman and find a Protestant.
    • Must then a Christ perish in torment in every age to save those that have no imagination?
    • Our natural dispositions may be good; but we have been badly brought up, and are full of anti-social personal ambitions and prejudices and snobberies. Had we not better teach our children to be better citizens than ourselves? We are not doing that at present. The Russians ARE. That is my last word. Think over it.
    • One man that has a mind and knows it can always beat ten men who haven't and don't.
    • God help England if she had no Scots to think for her!
    • I have defined the hundred per cent American as ninety-nine per cent an idiot.
    • An American has no sense of privacy. He does not know what it means. There is no such thing in the country.
    • You in America should trust to that volcanic political instinct which I have divined in you.
    • The quality of a play is the quality of its ideas.
    • It's well to be off with the Old Woman before you're on with the New.
    • The fickleness of the women I love is only equaled by the infernal constancy of the women who love me.
    • The test of a man or woman's breeding is how they behave in a quarrel.
    • People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.
    • There are no secrets better kept than the secrets everybody guesses.
    • I know Miss Warren is a great devotee of the Gospel of Getting On.
    • Hail, Sphinx: salutation from Julius Caesar! I have wandered in many lands, seeking the lost regions from which my birth into this world exiled me, and the company of creatures such as I myself. I have found flocks and pastures, men and cities, but no other Caesar, no air native to me, no man kindred to me, none who can do my day's deed, and think my night's thought.
    • My way hither was the way of destiny; for I am he of whose genius you are the symbol: part brute, part woman, and part God- nothing of man in me at all. Have I read your riddle, Sphinx?
    • THEODOTUS. Caesar: you are a stranger here, and not conversant with our laws. The kings and queens of Egypt may not marry except with their own royal blood. Ptolemy and Cleopatra are born king and consort just as they are born brother and sister. BRITANNUS (shocked). Caesar: this is not proper. THEODOTUS (outraged). How! CAESAR (recovering his self-possession). Pardon him. Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.
    • Again, there is the illusion of 'increased command over Nature,' meaning that cotton is cheap and that ten miles of country road on a bicycle have replaced four on foot. But even if man's increased command over Nature included any increased command over himself (the only sort of command relevant to his evolution into a higher being), the fact remains that it is only by running away from the increased command over Nature to country places where Nature is still in primitive command over Man that he can recover from the effects of the smoke, the stench, the foul air, the overcrowding, the racket, the ugliness, the dirt which the cheap cotton costs us.
    • 'The way to deal with worldly people is to frighten them by repeating their scandalous whisperings aloud.'
    • 'The public want actresses, because they think all actresses bad. They don't want music or poetry because they know that both are good. So actors and actresses thrive and poets and composers starve.'
    • 'There are some men who are considered quite ugly, but who are more remarkable than pretty people. You often see that in artists.'
    • 'All very fine, Mary; but my old-fashioned common sense is better than your clever modern nonsense.'
    • 'If you leave your art, the world will beat you back to it. The world has not an ambition worth sharing, or a prize worth handling. Corrupt successes, disgraceful failures, or sheeplike vegetation are all it has to offer. I prefer Art, which gives me a sixth sense of beauty, with self-respect: perhaps also an immortal reputation in return for honest endeavour in a labour of love.'
    • 'Perhaps woman's art is of woman's life a thing apart, 'tis man's whole existence; just as love is said to be the reverse - though it isn't.'
    • 'I hate singers, a miserable crew who think that music exists only in their own throats.'
    • 'A man's own self is the last person to believe in him, and is harder to cheat than the rest of the world.'
    • 'Composers are not human; They can live on diminished sevenths, and be contented with a pianoforte for a wife, and a string quartette for a family.'
    • 'Geniuses are horrid, intolerant, easily offended, sleeplessly self-conscious men, who expect their wives to be angels with no further business in life than to pet and worship their husbands. Even at the best they are not comfortable men to live with; and a perfect husband is one who is perfectly comfortable to live with.'
    • This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
    • The schoolboy who uses his Homer to throw at his fellow's head makes perhaps the safest and most rational use of him than any one ever will.
    • Our political experiment of democracy, the last refuge of cheap misgovernment, will ruin us if our citizens are ill bred.
    • Progress can do nothing but make the most of us all as we are:
    • We must either breed political capacity or be ruined by Democracy, which was forced on us by the failure of the older alternatives. Yet if Despotism failed only for want of a capable benevolent despot, what chance has Democracy, which requires a whole population of capable voters.
    • Bunyan's perception that righteousness is filthy rags, his scorn for Mr Legality in the village of Morality, his defiance of the Church as the supplanter of religion, his insistence on courage as the virtue of virtues, his estimate of the career of the conventionally respectable and sensible Worldly Wiseman as no better at bottom than the life and death of Mr Badman: all this, expressed by Bunyan in the terms of a tinker's theology, is what Nietzsche has expressed in terms of post-Darwinian, post-Schopenhaurian philosophy; Wagner in terms of polytheistic mythology; and Ibsen in terms of mid-XIX century Parisian dramaturgy.
    • A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on earth.
    • The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is.
    • The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.
    • Since marriage began, the great artist has been known as a bad-boy husband. But he is worse: he is a child-robber, a bloodsucker, a hypocrite and a cheat. Perish the race and wither a thousand women if only the sacrifice of them enable him to act Hamlet better, to paint a finer picture, to write a deeper poem, a greater play, a profounder philosophy!
    • Marry Ann; and at the end of a week you'll find no more inspiration in her than in a plate of muffins.
    • ... the book about the bird and the bee is natural history. It's an awful lesson to mankind. You think that you are Ann's suitor; that you are the pursuer and she the pursued; that it is your part to woo, to persuade, to prevail, to overcome. Fool: it is you who are the pursued, the marked down quarry, the destined prey. You need not sit looking longingly at the bait through the wires of the trap: the door is open, and will remain so until it shuts behind you for ever.
    • In short, the way to avoid misunderstanding is for everybody to lie and slander and insinuate and pretend as hard as they can. That is what obeying your mother comes to.
    • As he comes along the drive from the house with Mrs Whitefield he is sedulously making himself agreeable and entertaining, and thereby placing on her slender wit a burden it is unable to bear.
    • You can be as romantic as you please about love, Hector; but you mustn't be romantic about money.
    • If we were reasoning, farsighted people, four fifths of us would go straight to the Guardians for relief, and knock the whole social system to pieces with most beneficial reconstructive results. The reason we do not do this is because we work like bees or ants, by instinct or habit, not reasoning about the matter at all. Therefore when a man comes along who can and does reason, and who, applying the Kantian test to his conduct, can truly say to us, If everybody did as I do, the world would be compelled to reform itself industrially, and abolish slavery and squalor, which exist only because everybody does as you do, let us honor that man and seriously consider the advisability of following his example.
    • A movement which is confined to philosophers and honest men can never exercise any real political influence: there are too few of them. Until a movement shows itself capable of spreading among brigands, it can never hope for a political majority.
    • Abnormal professions attract two classes: those who are not good enough for ordinary bourgeois life and those who are too good for it. We are dregs and scum, sir: the dregs very filthy, the scum very superior.
    • Hell is the home of honor, duty, justice, and the rest of the seven deadly virtues. All the wickedness on earth is done in their name: where else but in hell should they have their reward?
    • You may remember that on Earth--though of course we never confessed it--the death of anyone we knew, even those we liked best, was always mingled with a certain satisfaction at being finally done with them.
    • Written over the gate here are the words 'Leave every hope behind, ye who enter.' Only think what a relief that is! For what is hope? A form of moral responsibility. Here there is no hope, and consequently no duty, no work, nothing to be gained by praying, nothing to be lost by doing what you like. Hell, in short, is a place where you have nothing to do but amuse yourself.
    • I was a hypocrite; and it served me right to be sent to heaven.
    • ... for Englishmen never will be slaves: they are free to do whatever the Government and public opinion allows them to do.
    • At every one of those concerts in England you will find rows of weary people who are there, not because they really like classical music, but because they think they ought to like it. Well, there is the same thing in heaven. A number of people sit there in glory, not because they are happy, but because they think they owe it to their position to be in heaven.
    • The earth is a nursery in which men and women play at being heroes and heroines, saints and sinners; but they are dragged down from their fool's paradise by their bodies: hunger and cold and thirst, age and decay and disease, death above all, make them slaves of reality: thrice a day meals must be eaten and digested: thrice a century a new generation must be engendered: ages of faith, of romance, and of science are all driven at last to have but one prayer 'Make me a healthy animal.'
    • But Heaven cannot be described by metaphor. Thither I shall go presently, because there I hope to escape at last from lies and from the tedious, vulgar pursuit of happiness, to spend my eons in contemplation.
    • Senor Commander: I do not blame your disgust: a picture gallery is a dull place for a blind man. But even as you enjoy the contemplation of such romantic mirages as beauty and pleasure; so would I enjoy the contemplation of that which interests me above all things namely, Life: the force that ever strives to attain greater power of contemplating itself. What made this brain of mine, do you think? Not the need to move my limbs; for a rat with half my brains moves as well as I. Not merely the need to do, but the need to know what I do, lest in my blind efforts to live I should be slaying myself.
    • What a piece of work is man! says the poet. Yes: but what a blunderer! Here is the highest miracle of organization yet attained by life, the most intensely alive thing that exists, the most conscious of all the organisms; and yet, how wretched are his brains! Stupidity made sordid and cruel by the realities learnt from toil and poverty: Imagination resolved to starve sooner than face these realities, piling up illusions to hide them, and calling itself cleverness, genius! And each accusing the other of its own defect: Stupidity accusing Imagination of folly, and Imagination accusing Stupidity of ignorance: whereas, alas! Stupidity has all the knowledge, and Imagination all the intelligence.
    • And a pretty kettle of fish they make of it between them. Did I not say, when I was arranging that affair of Faust's, that all Man's reason has done for him is to make him beastlier than any beast. One splendid body is worth the brains of a hundred dyspeptic, flatulent philosophers.
    • And is Man any the less destroying himself for all this boasted brain of his? Have you walked up and down upon the earth lately? I have; and I have examined Man's wonderful inventions. And I tell you that in the arts of life man invents nothing; but in the arts of death he outdoes Nature herself, and produces by chemistry and machinery all the slaughter of plague, pestilence and famine. The peasant I tempt to-day eats and drinks what was eaten and drunk by the peasants of ten thousand years ago; and the house he lives in has not altered as much in a thousand centuries as the fashion of a lady's bonnet in a score of weeks. But when he goes out to slay, he carries a marvel of mechanism that lets loose at the touch of his finger all the hidden molecular energies, and leaves the javelin, the arrow, the blowpipe of his fathers far behind.
    • In the arts of peace Man is a bungler. I have seen his cotton factories and the like, with machinery that a greedy dog could have invented if it had wanted money instead of food. I know his clumsy typewriters and bungling locomotives and tedious bicycles: they are toys compared to the Maxim gun, the submarine torpedo boat. There is nothing in Man's industrial machinery but his greed and sloth: his heart is in his weapons. This marvellous force of Life of which you boast is a force of Death: Man measures his strength by his destructiveness.
    • What is his religion? An excuse for hating ME. What is his law? An excuse for hanging YOU. What is his morality? Gentility! an excuse for consuming without producing. What is his art? An excuse for gloating over pictures of slaughter. What are his politics? Either the worship of a despot because a despot can kill, or parliamentary cockfighting.
    • ...Man, the inventor of the rack, the stake, the gallows, and the electrocutor; of the sword and gun; above all, of justice, duty, patriotism and all the other isms by which even those who are clever enough to be humanely disposed are persuaded to become the most destructive of all the destroyers.
    • Man gives every reason for his conduct save one, every excuse for his crimes save one, every plea for his safety save one; and that one is his cowardice. Yet all his civilization is founded on his cowardice, on his abject tameness, which he calls his respectability. There are limits to what a mule or an ass will stand; but Man will suffer himself to be degraded until his vileness becomes so loathsome to his oppressors that they themselves are forced to reform it.
    • Man, who in his own selfish affairs is a coward to the backbone, will fight for an idea like a hero. He may be abject as a citizen; but he is dangerous as a fanatic. He can only be enslaved whilst he is spiritually weak enough to listen to reason.
    • When the military man approaches, the world locks up its spoons and packs off its womankind. No: I sing, not arms and the hero, but the philosophic man: he who seeks in contemplation to discover the inner will of the world, in invention to discover the means of fulfilling that will, and in action to do that will by the so-discovered means.'
    • The confusion of marriage with morality has done more to destroy the conscience of the human race than any other single error.
    • Those who talk most about the blessings of marriage and the constancy of its vows are the very people who declare that if the chain were broken and the prisoners left free to choose, the whole social fabric would fly asunder. You cannot have the argument both ways. If the prisoner is happy, why lock him in? If he is not, why pretend that he is?
    • I have had my share of vanity; for as a young man I was admired by women; and as a statue I am praised by art critics.
    • Your friends are all the dullest dogs I know. They are not beautiful: they are only decorated. They are not clean: they are only shaved and starched. They are not dignified: they are only fashionably dressed. They are not educated they are only college passmen. They are not religious: they are only pewrenters. They are not moral: they are only conventional. They are not virtuous: they are only cowardly. They are not even vicious: they are only 'frail.' They are not artistic: they are only lascivious. They are not prosperous: they are only rich. They are not loyal, they are only servile; not dutiful, only sheepish; not public spirited, only patriotic; not courageous, only quarrelsome; not determined, only obstinate; not masterful, only domineering; not self-controlled, only obtuse; not self-respecting, only vain; not kind, only sentimental; not social, only gregarious; not considerate, only polite; not intelligent, only opinionated; not progressive, only factious; not imaginative, only superstitious; not just, only vindictive; not generous, only propitiatory; not disciplined, only cowed; and not truthful at all--liars every one of them, to the very backbone of their souls.
    • Yes, it is mere talk. But why is it mere talk? Because, my friend, beauty, purity, respectability, religion, morality, art, patriotism, bravery and the rest are nothing but words which I or anyone else can turn inside out like a glove. Were they realities, you would have to plead guilty to my indictment; but fortunately for your self-respect, my diabolical friend, they are not realities. As you say, they are mere words, useful for duping barbarians into adopting civilization, or the civilized poor into submitting to be robbed and enslaved. That is the family secret of the governing caste; and if we who are of that caste aimed at more Life for the world instead of at more power and luxury for our miserable selves, that secret would make us great.
    • Here there is nothing but love and beauty. Ugh! it is like sitting for all eternity at the first act of a fashionable play, before the complications begin. Never in my worst moments of superstitious terror on earth did I dream that Hell was so horrible. I live, like a hairdresser, in the continual contemplation of beauty, toying with silken tresses. I breathe an atmosphere of sweetness, like a confectioner's shopboy.
    • ... men get tired of everything, of heaven no less than of hell; and that all history is nothing but a record of the oscillations of the world between these two extremes. An epoch is but a swing of the pendulum; and each generation thinks the world is progressing because it is always moving. But when you are as old as I am; when you have a thousand times wearied of heaven, like myself and the Commander, and a thousand times wearied of hell, as you are wearied now, you will no longer imagine that every swing from heaven to hell is an emancipation, every swing from hell to heaven an evolution. Where you now see reform, progress, fulfilment of upward tendency, continual ascent by Man on the stepping stones of his dead selves to higher things, you will see nothing but an infinite comedy of illusion. You will discover the profound truth of the saying of my friend Koheleth, that there is nothing new under the sun. Vanitas vanitatum.
    • Were I not possessed with a purpose beyond my own I had better be a ploughman than a philosopher; for the ploughman lives as long as the philosopher, eats more, sleeps better, and rejoices in the bosom of his wife with less misgiving.
    • The philosopher is Nature's pilot. And there you have our difference: to be in hell is to drift: to be in heaven is to steer.
    • Well, well, go your way, Senor Don Juan. I prefer to be my own master and not the tool of any blundering universal force. I know that beauty is good to look at; that music is good to hear; that love is good to feel; and that they are all good to think about and talk about. I know that to be well exercised in these sensations, emotions, and studies is to be a refined and cultivated being. Whatever they may say of me in churches on earth, I know that it is universally admitted in good society that the prince of Darkness is a gentleman; and that is enough for me.
    • As to your Life Force, which you think irresistible, it is the most resistible thing in the world for a person of any character. But if you are naturally vulgar and credulous, as all reformers are, it will thrust you first into religion, where you will sprinkle water on babies to save their souls from me; then it will drive you from religion into science, where you will snatch the babies from the water sprinkling and inoculate them with disease to save them from catching it accidentally; then you will take to politics, where you will become the catspaw of corrupt functionaries and the henchman of ambitious humbugs; and the end will be despair and decrepitude, broken nerve and shattered hopes, vain regrets for that worst and silliest of wastes and sacrifices, the waste and sacrifice of the power of enjoyment: in a word, the punishment of the fool who pursues the better before he has secured the good.
    • Beware of the pursuit of the Superhuman: it leads to an indiscriminate contempt for the Human.
    • This Don Juan was kind to women and courteous to men as your daughter here was kind to her pet cats and dogs; but such kindness is a denial of the exclusively human character of the soul.
    • ANA. ...Tell me where can I find the Superman? THE DEVIL. He is not yet created, Senora. THE STATUE. And never will be, probably[...] ANA. Not yet created! Then my work is not yet done. [Crossing herself devoutly] I believe in the Life to Come. [Crying to the universe] A father--a father for the Superman!
    • [between his teeth] Goon. Talk politics, you idiots: nothing sounds more respectable. Keep it up, I tell you.
    • Hell is full of musical amateurs. Music is the brandy of the damned.
    • An Englishman thinks he is moral when he is only uncomfortable.
    • What is virtue but the Trade Unionism of the married?
    • There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to get it.
    • The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.
    • Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.
    • Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.[1]
    • Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.
    • He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.
    • Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity.
    • If you strike a child, take care that you strike it in anger, even at the risk of maiming it for life. A blow in cold blood neither can nor should be forgiven.
    • Virtue consists, not in abstaining from vice, but in not desiring it.
    • Lack of money is the root of all evil.
    • In heaven an angel is nobody in particular.
    • Imprisonment is as irrevocable as death.
    • Beware of the man who does not return your blow: he neither forgives you nor allows you to forgive yourself.
    • Titles distinguish the mediocre, embarrass the superior, and are disgraced by the inferior.
    • It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid.[1]
    • Happiness and beauty are by-products.
    • Two starving men cannot be twice as hungry as one; but two rascals can be ten times as vicious as one.
    • Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing.
    • What a man believes may be ascertained, not from his creed, but from the assumptions on which he habitually acts.
    • Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
    • The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
    • Beware of the man whose god is in the skies.
    • Whilst we have prisons it matters little which of us occupy the cells.
    • Every man over forty is a scoundrel.
    • Kings are not born: they are made by universal hallucination.
    • The greatest of evils and the worst of crimes is poverty.
    • The faults of the burglar are the qualities of the financier: the manners and habits of a duke would cost a city clerk his situation.
    • ...society, with all its prisons and bayonets and whips and ostracisms and starvations, is powerless in the face of the Anarchist who is prepared to sacrifice his own life in the battle with it. Our natural safety from the cheap and devastating explosives which every Russian student can make. . .lies in the fact that brave and resolute men, when they are rascals, will not risk their skins for the good of humanity, and, when they are sympathetic enough to care for humanity, abhor murder, and never commit it until their consciences are outraged beyond endurance. The remedy is, then, simply not to outrage their consciences.
    • I can't talk religion to a man with bodily hunger in his eyes.
    • You cannot have power for good without having power for evil too. Even mother's milk nourishes murderers as well as heroes.
    • Undershaft: You have made for yourself something that you call a morality or a religion or what not. It doesnt fit the facts. Well, scrap it. Scrap it and get one that does fit. That is what is wrong with the world at present. It scraps its obsolete steam engines and dynamos; but it wont scrap its old prejudices and its old moralities and its old religions and its old political constitutions. Whats the result? In machinery it does very well; but in morals and religion and politics it is working at a loss that brings it nearer bankruptcy every year.
    • Cusins: Call you poverty a crime? Undershaft: The worst of crimes. All the other crimes are virtues beside it: all the other dishonors are chivalry itself by comparison. Poverty blights whole cities; spreads horrible pestilences; strikes dead the very souls of all who come within sight, sound or smell of it. What you call crime is nothing: a murder here and a theft there, a blow now and a curse then: what do they matter? they are only the accidents and illnesses of life: there are not fifty genuine professional criminals in London. But there are millions of poor people, abject people, dirty people, ill fed, ill clothed people. They poison us morally and physically: they kill the happiness of society: they force us to do away with our own liberties and to organize unnatural cruelties for fear they should rise against us and drag us down into their abyss. Only fools fear crime: we all fear poverty.
    • Undershaft: My religion? Well, my dear, I am a Millionaire. That is my religion.
    • You have learnt something. That always feels at first as if you had lost something.
    • It is not the sale of my soul that troubles me: I have sold it too often to care about that. I have sold it for a professorship. I have sold it for an income. [...] What is all human conduct but the daily and hourly sale of our souls for trifles?
    • A healthy nation is as unconscious of its nationality as a healthy man of his bones. But if you break a nation's nationality it will think of nothing else but getting it set again. (Preface)
    • You can't be a hero without being a coward. (Preface)
    • What really flatters a man is that you think him worth flattering.
    • My way of joking is to tell the truth. It's the funniest joke in the world.
    • Home life as we understand it is no more natural to us than a cage is natural to a cockatoo.
    • When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.
    • The whole strength of England lies in the fact that the enormous majority of the English people are snobs.
    • You don't learn to hold your own in the world by standing on guard, but by attacking, and getting well hammered yourself.
    • Religion is a great force - the only real motive force in the world; but what you fellows dont understand is that you must get at a man through his own religion and not through yours. Instead of facing that fact, you persist in trying to convert all men to your own little sect, so that you can use it against them afterwards. You are all missionaries and proselytizers trying to uproot the native religion from your neighbor's flowerbeds and plant your own in its place. You would rather let a child perish in ignorance than have it taught by a rival sectary. You can talk to me of the quintessential equality of coal merchants and British officers; and yet you cant see the quintessential equality of all the religions.
    • It is more dangerous to be a great prophet or poet than to promote twenty companies for swindling simple folk out of their savings.
    • Optimistic lies have such immense therapeutic value that a doctor who cannot tell them convincingly has mistaken his profession.
    • A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell.
    • I like a bit of a mongrel myself, whether it's a man or a dog; they're the best for every day.
    • If parents would only realize how they bore their children!
    • When will we realize that the fact that we can become accustomed to anything, however disgusting at first, makes it necessary to examine carefully everything we have become accustomed to.
    • Death is for many of us the gate of hell; but we are inside on the way out, not outside on the way in.
    • Do not try to live for ever. You will not succeed.
    • All professions are conspiracies against the laity.
    • I don't believe in morality. I'm a disciple of Bernard Shaw.
    • Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
    • It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him.
    • The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it.
    • He ain't a copper just look at 'is boots!
    • Ah-ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-oo-oo!!! I ain't dirty: I washed me face and hands afore I come, I did!
    • Women upset everything. When you let them into your life, you find that the woman is driving at one thing and you're driving at another.
    • What is life but a series of inspired follies? The difficulty is to find them to do. Never lose a chance: it doesn't come every day.
    • I wouldn't have ate it, only I'm too lady-like to take it out of my mouth.
    • I don't want to talk grammar, I want to talk like a lady.
    • I heard your prayers Thank God it's all over!
    • You see, lots of the real people can't do it at all: they're such fools that they think style comes by nature to people in their position; and so they never learn. There's always something professional about doing a thing superlatively well.
    • Time enough to think of the future when you haven't any future to think of.
    • I have to live for others and not for myself; that's middle-class morality.
    • Independence? That's middle-class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.
    • The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.
    • Revolutionary movements attract those who are not good enough for established institutions as well as those who are too good for them.
    • You see things; and you say Why? But I dream things that never were; and I say Why not?
    • The nauseous sham goodfellowship our democratic public men get up for shop use.
    • There are no secrets except the secrets that keep themselves.
    • Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough.
    • Silence is the perfect expression of scorn.
    • The worst cliques are those which consist of one man.
    • Life is not meant to be easy, my child but take courage: it can be delightful.
    • You use a glass mirror to see your face: you use works of art to see your soul.
    • In this play a reference is made by a Chief of Police to the political necessity for killing people: a necessity so distressing to the statesmen and so terrifying to the common citizen that nobody except myself (as far as I know) has ventured to examine it directly on its own merits, although every Government is obliged to practise it on a scale varying from the execution of a single murderer to the slaughter of millions of quite innocent persons. Whilst assenting to these proceedings, and even acclaiming and celebrating them, we dare not tell ourselves what we are doing or why we are doing it; and so we call it justice or capital punishment or our duty to king and country or any other convenient verbal whitewash for what we instinctively recoil from as from a dirty job. These childish evasions are revolting. We must strip off the whitewash and find out what is really beneath it. Extermination must be put on a scientific basis if it is ever to be carried out humanely and apologetically as well as thoroughly.
    • In law we draw a line between the killing of human animals and non-human ones, setting the latter apart as brutes. This was founded on a general belief that humans have immortal souls and brutes none. Nowadays more and more people are refusing to make this distinction. They may believe in The Life Everlasting and The Life to Come; but they make no distinction between Man and Brute, because some of them believe that brutes have souls, whilst others refuse to believe that the physical materializations and personifications of The Life Everlasting are themselves everlasting. In either case the mystic distinction between Man and Brute vanishes; and the murderer pleading that though a rabbit should be killed for being mischievous he himself should be spared because he has an immortal soul and a rabbit has none is as hopelessly out of date as a gentleman duellist pleading his clergy. When the necessity for killing a dangerous human being arises, as it still does daily, the only distinction we make between a man and a snared rabbit is that we very quaintly provide the man with a minister of religion to explain to him that we are not killing him at all, but only expediting his transfer to an eternity of bliss.
    • The extermination of what the exterminators call inferior races is as old as history. 'Stone dead hath no fellow' said Cromwell when he tried to exterminate the Irish. 'The only good nigger is a dead nigger' say the Americans of the Ku-Klux temperament. 'Hates any man the thing he would not kill?' said Shylock naively. But we white men, as we absurdly call ourselves in spite of the testimony of our looking glasses, regard all differently colored folk as inferior species. Ladies and gentlemen class rebellious laborers with vermin. The Dominicans, the watchdogs of God, regarded the Albigenses as the enemies of God, just as Torquemada regarded the Jews as the murderers of God. All that is an old story: what we are confronted with now is a growing perception that if we desire a certain type of civilization and culture we must exterminate the sort of people who do not fit into it. There is a difference between the shooting at sight of aboriginal natives in the back blocks of Australia and the massacres of aristocrats in the terror which followed the foreign attacks on the French Revolution. The Australian gunman pots the aboriginal natives to satisfy his personal antipathy to a black man with uncut hair. But nobody in the French Republic had this feeling about Lavoisier, nor can any German Nazi have felt that way about Einstein. Yet Lavoisier was guillotined; and Einstein has had to fly for his life from Germany. It was silly to say that the Republic had no use for chemists; and no Nazi has stultified his party to the extent of saying that the new National Socialist Fascist State in Germany has no use for mathematician-physicists. The proposition is that aristocrats (Lavoisier's class) and Jews (Einstein's race) are unfit to enjoy the privilege of living in a modern society founded on definite principles of social welfare as distinguished from the old promiscuous aggregations crudely policed by chiefs who had no notion of social criticism and no time to invent it.
    • There have been summits of civilization at which heretics like Socrates, who was killed because he was wiser than his neighbors, have not been tortured, but ordered to kill themselves in the most painless manner known to their judges. But from that summit there was a speedy relapse into our present savagery.
    • I dislike cruelty, even cruelty to other people, and should therefore like to see all cruel people exterminated. But I should recoil with horror from a proposal to punish them. Let me illustrate my attitude by a very famous, indeed far too famous, example of the popular conception of criminal law as a means of delivering up victims to the normal popular lust for cruelty which has been mortified by the restraint imposed on it by civilization. Take the case of the extermination of Jesus Christ. No doubt there was a strong case for it. Jesus was from the point of view of the High Priest a heretic and an impostor. From the point of view of the merchants he was a rioter and a Communist. From the Roman Imperialist point of view he was a traitor. From the commonsense point of view he was a dangerous madman. From the snobbish point of view, always a very influential one, he was a penniless vagrant. From the police point of view he was an obstructor of thoroughfares, a beggar, an associate of prostitutes, an apologist of sinners, and a disparager of judges; and his daily companions were tramps whom he had seduced into vagabondage from their regular trades. From the point of view of the pious he was a Sabbath breaker, a denier of the efficacy of circumcision and the advocate of a strange rite of baptism, a gluttonous man and a winebibber. He was abhorrent to the medical profession as an unqualified practitioner who healed people by quackery and charged nothing for the treatment. He was not anti-Christ: nobody had heard of such a power of darkness then; but he was startlingly anti-Moses. He was against the priests, against the judiciary, against the military, against the city (he declared that it was impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven), against all the interests, classes, principalities and powers, inviting everybody to abandon all these and follow him. By every argument, legal, political, religious, customary, and polite, he was the most complete enemy of the society of his time ever brought to the bar. He was guilty on every count of the indictment, and on many more that his accusers had not the wit to frame. If he was innocent then the whole world was guilty. To acquit him was to throw over civilization and all its institutions. History has borne out the case against him; for no State has ever constituted itself on his principles or made it possible to live according to his commandments: those States who have taken his name have taken it as an alias to enable them to persecute his followers more plausibly. It is not surprising that under these circumstances, and in the absence of any defence, the Jerusalem community and the Roman government decided to exterminate Jesus. They had just as much right to do so as to exterminate the two thieves who perished with him.
    • All government is cruel; for nothing is so cruel as impunity.
    • I am no mere chance pile of flesh and bone: if I were only that, I should fall into corruption and dust before your eyes. I am the embodiment of a thought of God: I am the Word made flesh: that is what holds me together standing before you in the image of God. ... The Word is God. And God is within you. ... In so far as you know the truth you have it from my God, who is your heavenly father and mine. He has many names and his nature is manifold. ... It is by children who are wiser than their fathers, subjects who are wiser than their emperors, beggars and vagrants who are wiser than their priests, that men rise from being beasts of prey to believing in me and being saved. ... By their fruits ye shall know them. Beware how you kill a thought that is new to you. For that thought may be the foundation of the kingdom of God on earth.
    • The kingdom of God is striving to come. The empire that looks back in terror shall give way to the kingdom that looks forward with hope. Terror drives men mad: hope and faith give them divine wisdom. The men whom you fill with fear will stick at no evil and perish in their sin: the men whom I fill with faith shall inherit the earth. I say to you Cast out fear. Speak no more vain things to me about the greatness of Rome. ... You, standing for Rome, are the universal coward: I, standing for the kingdom of God, have braved everything, lost everything, and won an eternal crown.
    • Law is blind without counsel. The counsel men agree with is vain: it is only the echo of their own voices. A million echoes will not help you to rule righteously. But he who does not fear you and shews you the other side is a pearl of the greatest price. Slay me and you go blind to your damnation. The greatest of God's names is Counsellor; and when your Empire is dust and your name a byword among the nations the temples of the living God shall still ring with his praise as Wonderful! Counsellor! the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
    • The last word remains with Christ and Handel; and this must stand as the best defence of Tolerance until a better man than I makes a better job of it. Put shortly and undramatically the case is that a civilization cannot progress without criticism, and must therefore, to save itself from stagnation and putrefaction, declare impunity for criticism. This means impunity not only for propositions which, however novel, seem interesting, statesmanlike, and respectable, but for propositions that shock the uncritical as obscene, seditious, blasphemous, heretical, and revolutionary.
    • Confusing monogamy with morality has done more to destroy the conscience of the human race than any other error.[2]
    • Physically there is nothing to distinguish human society from the farm-yard except that children are more troublesome and costly than chickens and calves, and that men and women are not so completely enslaved as farm stock.[3]
    • Customs will reconcile people to any atrocity.
    • A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.[1]
    • America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilisation in between
    • Animals are my friends ... and I don't eat my friends.
    • Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the airplane, the pessimist invents the parachute.
    • But what if he were to have your brains and my beauty?
    • Dancing: The vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music.
    • Democracy is a system ensuring that the people are governed no better than they deserve.
    • If all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they still wouldn't reach a conclusion.
    • I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
    • I can forgive Alfred Nobel for inventing dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize.
    • I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig, you get dirty; and besides, the pig likes it.
    • I often quote myself. I find it adds spice to the conversation.
    • If you have an apple and I have an apple, and we exchange apples, we both still only have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea, and we exchange ideas, we each now have two ideas.
    • Irish history is something no Englishman should forget and no Irishman should remember.
    • The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.
    • What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the
    • Islam is the best religion, with the worst followers.
    • If any religion had the chance of ruling over England, nay Europe within the next hundred years, it could be Islam.[4]
    • I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him - the wonderful man and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Savior of Humanity. [5]
    • I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today. [6]
    • Medieval ecclesiastics, either through ignorance of bigotry, painted Mohammadanism in the darkest colors. They were in fact; trained to hate both the man Muhammad and his to them was anti-Christ.[7]
    • Europe is beginning to be enamored of the creed of Muhammad. In the next century I may go still further in recognizing the utility of that creed in solving its problems, and it is in this sense that you must understand my prediction.[8]
    • Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself.
    • No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means.
    • Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it:
    • Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy.[1]
    • The average age (life expectancy) of a meat eater is 63. I am on the verge of 85 and still work as hard as ever. I have lived quite long enough and I am trying to die; but I simply cannot do it. A single beefsteak would finish me; but I cannot bring myself to swallow it. I am oppressed with a dread of living forever. That is the only disadvantage of vegetarianism.
    • The customs of your tribe are not laws of nature.
    • The Indian way of life provides the vision of the natural, real way of life. We veil ourselves with unnatural masks. On the face of India are the tender expressions which carry the mark of the Creator's hand.
    • The longer I live the more I see that I am never wrong about anything, and that all the pains I have so humbly taken to verify my notions have only wasted my time.[1]
    • The main difference between the opposition of Islam to Hinduism and the opposition between Protestant and Catholic is that the Catholic persecutes as fiercely as the Protestant when he has the power; but Hinduism cannot persecute, because all the Gods - and what goes deeper, the no Gods - are to be found in its Temples.
    • The material of a dramatist is always some conflict of human feeling with circumstances.
    • The only time my education was interrupted was when I was in school.
    • The ordinary Britisher imagines that God is an Englishman
    • The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.
    • The road to ignorance is paved with good editions. Only the illiterate can afford to buy good books now.
    • The secret of success is to offend the greatest number of people.
    • The sex relation is not a personal relation. It can be irresistibly desired and rapturously consummated between persons who could not endure one another for a day in any other relation.
    • There is no love sincerer than the love of food.[1]
    • War does not decide who is right but who is left.
    • We have established what you are, madam. We are now merely haggling over the price.
    • When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth.[1]
    • Youth is such a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.[1]
    • Shaw: Am reserving two seats for my show. Come bring a friend - if you have one.
    • Consistency is the enemy of enterprise, just as symmetry is the enemy of art.
    • The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
    • If you're going to tell people the truth, you better make them laugh; otherwise they'll kill you. (cited in the lead credits to the movie C.S.A. Confederate States of America; also sometimes attributed to Oscar Wilde).
    • Shaw's plays are the price we pay for Shaw's prefaces.
    • Shaw knows at any moment, on any subject, what he thinks, what you will think, what others have thought, what all this thinking entails; and he takes the most elaborate pains to bring these thoughts to light in a form which is by turns abstract and familiar, conciliatory and aggressive, obvious and inferential, comic and puzzling. In a word, Shaw is perhaps the most consciously conscious mind that has ever thought - certainly the most conscious since Rousseau; which may be why both of them often create the same impression of insincerity amounting to charlatanism. Yet it is by excess of honesty that Shaw himself lent color to his representation as an inconsequential buffoon bent on monopolizing the spotlight.
    • Seeing clearly within himself and always able to dodge around the ends of any position, including his own, Shaw assumed from the start the dual role of prophet and gadfly.
    • Shaw does not merely decorate a proposition, but makes his way from point to point through new and difficult territory.
    • He never invested his whole moral capital in a man, a book, or a cause, but treasured up wisdom wherever it could be picked up, always with scrupulous acknowledgment ... His eclecticism saving him from the cycle of hope-disillusion-despair, his highest effectiveness was as a skirmisher in the daily battle for light and justice, as a critic of new doctrine and a refurbisher of old, as a voice of warning and encouragement. That his action has not been in vain, we can measure by how little Shaw's iconoclasm stirs our blood; we no longer remember what he destroyed that was blocking our view.
    • Bernard Shaw remains the only model we have of what the citizen of a democracy should be: an informed participant in all things we deem important to the society and the individual.
    • I never read a reply by Shaw that did not leave me in better and not worse temper or frame of mind; which did not seem to come out of inexhaustible fountains of fairmindedness and intellectual geniality; which did not savor somehow of that native largeness which the philosophers attributed to Magnanimous Man.
    • I found many men to whom I felt deeply grateful - especially Guy de Maupassant, Jack London, and H. L. Mencken - but the first man to whom I felt definitely related was George Bernard Shaw. This is a presumptuous or fatuous thing to mention, perhaps, but even so it must be mentioned. ... I myself, as a person, have been influenced by many writers and many things, and my writing has felt the impact of the writing of many writers, some relatively unknown and unimportant, some downright bad. But probably the greatest influence of them all when an influence is most effective - when the man being influenced is nowhere near being solid in his own right - has been the influence of the great tall man with the white beard, the lively eyes, the swift wit and the impish chuckle. ... I have been fascinated by it all, grateful for it all, grateful for the sheer majesty of the existence of ideas, stories, fables, and paper and ink and print and books to hold them all together for a man to take aside and examine alone. But the man I liked most and the man who seemed to remind me of myself - of what I really was and would surely become - was George Bernard Shaw.
    • george bernard shaw

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