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lillian hellman Quotes

Lillian Hellman Quotes

Birth Date: 1905-06-20 (Tuesday, June 20th, 1905)
Date of Death: 1984-06-30 (Saturday, June 30th, 1984)



    • There are people who eat earth and eat all the people on it like in the Bible with the locusts. And other people who stand around and watch them eat.
    • Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth.
    • For every man who lives without freedom, the rest of us must face the guilt.
    • Lonely people, in talking to each other can make each other lonelier.
    • I am ready and willing to testify before the representatives of our Government as to my own opinions and my own actions, regardless of any risks or consequences to myself. But I am advised by counsel that if I answer the committee's questions about myself, I must also answer questions about other people and that if I refuse to do so, I can be cited for contempt. My counsel tells me that if I answer questions about myself, I will have waived my rights under the fifth amendment and could be forced legally to answer questions about others. This is very difficult for a layman to understand. But there is one principle that I do understand: I am not willing, now or in the future, to bring bad trouble to people who, in my past association with them, were completely innocent of any talk or any action that was disloyal or subversive. I do not like subversion or disloyalty in any form and if I had ever seen any I would have considered it my duty to have reported it to the proper authorities. But to hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions, even though I long ago came to the conclusion that I was not a political person and could have no comfortable place in any political group.
    • I am prepared to waive the privilege against self-incrimination and to tell you everything you wish to know about my views or actions if your committee will agree to refrain from asking me to name other people. If the committee is unwilling to give me this assurance, I will be forced to plead the privilege of the fifth amendment at the hearing.
    • A man should be jailed for telling lies to the young.
    • We will not think noble because we are not noble. We will not live in beautiful harmony because there is no such thing in this world, nor should there be. We promise only to do our best and to live out our lives. Dear God, that's all we can promise in truth.
    • Nothing, of course, begins at the time you think it did.
    • I do not believe in recovery. The past with its pleasures, its rewards, its foolishness, its punishments, is there for each of us forever, and it should be.
    • Old paint on a canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent. When that happens it is possible, in some pictures, to see the original lines: a tree will show through a woman's dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer on an open sea. That is called pentimento because the painter 'repented,' changed his mind. Perhaps it would be as well to say that the old conception, replaced by a later choice, is a way of seeing and then seeing again. That is all I mean about the people in this book. The paint has aged and I wanted to see what was there for me once, what is there for me now.
    • Belief is a moral act for which the believer is to be held responsible.
    • Decisions, particularly important ones, have always made me sleepy, perhaps because I know that I will have to make them by instinct, and thinking things out is only what other people tell me I should do.
    • Failure in the theater is more dramatic and uglier than any other form of writing. It costs so much, you feel so guilty.
    • I like people who refuse to speak until they are ready to speak.
    • If you believe, as the Greeks did, that man is at the mercy of the gods, then you write tragedy. The end is inevitable from the beginning. But if you believe that man can solve his own problems and is at nobody's mercy, then you will probably write melodrama.
    • Intellectuals can tell themselves anything, sell themselves any bill of goods, which is why they were so often patsies for the ruling classes in nineteenth-century France and England, or twentieth-century Russia and America.
    • It is a mark of many famous people that they cannot part with their brightest hour.
    • It is best to act with confidence, no matter how little right you have to it.
    • It is not good to see people who have been pretending strength all their lives lose it even for a minute.
    • It's an indulgence to sit in a room and discuss your beliefs as if they were a juicy piece of gossip.
    • My father was often angry when I was most like him.
    • Nobody outside of a baby carriage or a judge's chamber believes in an unprejudiced point of view.
    • Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped.
    • People change and forget to tell each other.
    • Since when do we have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?
    • Tallulah was sitting in a group of people, giving the monologue she always thought was conversation.
    • They're fancy talkers about themselves, writers. If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.
    • Things start out as hopes and end up as habits.
    • Truth made you a traitor as it often does in a time of scoundrels.
    • Unjust. How many times I've used that word, scolded myself with it. All I mean by it now is that I don't have the final courage to say that I refuse to preside over violations against myself, and to hell with justice.
    • Was it always my nature to take a bad time and block out the good times, until any success became an accident and failure seemed the only truth?
    • We are a people who do not want to keep much of the past in our heads. It is considered unhealthy in America to remember mistakes, neurotic to think about them, psychotic to dwell on them.
    • What a word is truth. Slippery, tricky, unreliable. I tried in these books to tell the truth.
    • You lose your manners when you are poor.
    • You are reminded that this subject has a national reputation through her writings in which she has opposed nazism and fascism. Under no circumstances should it be known that this bureau is conducting an investigation of her. It should be handled in a most discreet manner and under no circumstances should it be assigned to the local police or some other agency.
    • Today, when every form of perversion except masturbation and bestiality have been shown on the screen, Hellman, Wyler and the Mirisch Co. apparently thought a re-do of The Children's Hour would sell tickets if lesbianism were not only restored as the charge the evil child falsely brings, but also condoned... There is an explicit line of dialogue which asserts that those who choose to practice lesbianism are not destroyed by it - a claim disapproved by the number of lesbians who become insane and/or commit suicide.
    • Every word she writes is a lie, including and and the.
    • If someone had told me, don't say anything about Lillian Hellman because she'll sue you, it wouldn't have stopped me. It might have spurred me on.
    • lillian hellman

Quotes by Famous People

Who Were Also Born On June 20thWho Also Died On June 30th
Paul Muldoon
Brian Wilson
Eric Dolphy
Lillian Hellman
Kirk Douglas
Lillian Hellman
Vannevar Bush
William Miller
James A. Garfield

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