The test of an adventure is that when you're in the middle of it, you say to yourself, "Oh, now I've got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home." And the sign that something's wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure.
One of the dangers of the American artist is that he finds himself almost exclusively thrown in with persons more or less in the arts. He lives among them, eats among them, quarrels with them, marries them.
I am convinced that, except in a few extraordinary cases, one form or another of an unhappy childhood is essential to the formation of exceptional gifts.
Winning children (who appear so guileless) are children who have discovered how effective charm and modesty and a delicately calculated spontaneity are in winning what they want.
The comic spirit is given to us in order that we may analyze, weigh, and clarify things in us which nettle us, or which we are outgrowing, or trying to reshape.
Every writer is necessarily a critic--that is, each sentence is a skeleton accompanied by enormous activity of rejection; and each selection is governed by general principles concerning truth, force, beauty, and so on. . . . The critic that is in every fabulist is like the iceberg--nine-tenths of him is under water.
Literature is the orchestration of platitudes.
Marriage is a bribe to make a housekeeper think she's a householder.
Many great writers have been extraordinarily awkward in daily exchange, but the greatest give the impression that their style was nursed by the closest attention to colloquial speech.
I've never forgotten for long at a time that living is struggle. I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for--whether it's a field, or a home, or a country.
A dramatist is one who believes that the pure event, an action involving human beings, is more arresting than any comment that can be made upon it.
The theatre is supremely fitted to say: "Behold! These things are." Yet most dramatists employ it to say: "This moral truth can be learned from beholding this action."
Never support two weaknesses at the same time. It's your combination sinners--your lecherous liars and your miserly drunkards--who dishonor the vices and bring them into bad repute.
The future author is one who discovers that language, the exploration and manipulation of the resources of language, will serve him in winning through to his way.
Memorable Quotations: Great American Writers
Memorable Quotations: Playwrights (A - H)
Memorable Quotations: Playwrights (I - P)
Memorable Quotations: Playwrights (Q - Z)
Memorable Quotations: Playwrights of the Past