Eugene O'Neill, fully Eugene Gladstone O'Neill

Eugene
O'Neill, fully Eugene Gladstone O'Neill
1888
1953

Irish American Playwright, Nobel Laureate in Literature

Author Quotes

All I know is that if you want to get anywhere with it, or with anything else, you have got to adopt an entirely different attitude from the one you have had toward getting an education. In plain words, you?ve got to make up your mind to study whatever you undertake, and concentrate your mind on it, and really work at it. This isn?t wisdom. Any damned fool in the world knows it?s true, whether it?s a question of raising horses or writing plays. You simply have to face the prospect of starting at the bottom and spending years learning how to do it.

I?m glad to know of your doing so much reading and that you?re becoming interested in Shakespeare. If you really like and understand his work, you will have something no one can ever take from you.

The best I can do is to try to encourage you to work hard at something you really want to do and have the ability to do. Because any fool knows that to work hard at something you want to accomplish is the only way to be happy. But beyond that it is entirely up to you. You?ve got to do for yourself all the seeking and finding concerned with what you want to do. Anyone but yourself is useless to you there? What I am trying to get firmly planted in your mind is this: In the really important decisions of life, others cannot help you. No matter how much they would like to. You must rely on yourself. That is the fate of each one of us. It can?t be changed. It just is like that. And you are old enough to understand this now. And that?s all of that. It isn?t much help in a practical advice way, but in another way it might be. At least, I hope so.

The trouble with you, I think, is you are still too dependent on others. You expect too much from outside you and demand too little of yourself. You hope everything will be made smooth and easy for you by someone else. Well, it?s coming to the point where you are old enough, and have been around enough, to see that this will get you exactly nowhere. You will be what you make yourself and you have got to do that job absolutely alone and on your own, whether you?re in school or holding down a job.

Be always drunken. Nothing else matters: that is the only question. If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time weighing on your shoulders and crushing you to the earth, be drunken continually.

I hate doctors! They'll do anything — anything to keep you coming to them. They'll sell their souls! What's worse, they'll sell yours, and you never know it till one day you find yourself in hell!

It is Mystery -- the mystery any one man or woman can feel but not understand as the meaning of any event -- or accident -- in any life on earth ... [that] I want to realize in the theatre. The solution, if there ever be any, will probably have to be produced in a test tube and turn out to be discouragingly undramatic.

'Mid the keen salt kiss of the waves.

When you're 50 you start thinking about things you haven't thought about before. I used to think getting old was about vanity - but actually it's about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial.

But I know that I shall find surcease, the rest my spirit craves,

I have had my dance with Folly, nor do I shirk the blame; I have sipped the so-called Wine of Life and paid the price of shame; but I know that I shall find surcease, the rest my spirit craves, where the rainbows play in the flying spray, 'mid the keen salt kiss of the waves.

It kills the pain. You go back until at last you are beyond its reach. Only the past when you were happy is real.

My early experience with the theater through my father really made me revolt against it. As a boy I saw so much of the old, ranting, artificial, romantic stage stuff that I always had a sort of contempt for the theater.

Where the rainbows play in the flying spray,

But I suppose life has made him like that, and he can't help it. None of us can help the things life has done to us. They're done before you realize it, and once they're done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you'd like to be, and you've lost your true self forever.

I have sipped the so-called Wine of Life and paid the price of shame.

It was a great mistake, my being born a man, I would have been much more successful as a seagull or a fish. As it is, I will always be a stranger who never feels at home, who does not really want and is not really wanted, who can never belong, who must be a little in love with death!

None of us can help the things life has done to us. TheyÂ’re done before you realize it, and once theyÂ’re done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what youÂ’d like to be, and youÂ’ve lost your true self forever.

Why am I afraid to dance, I who love music and rhythm and grace and song and laughter? Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beauty of flesh and the living colors of the earth and sky and sea? Why am I afraid to love, I who love love?

But land is land, and it's safer than the stocks and bonds of Wall Street swindlers.

I haven't touched a piano in so many years. I couldn't play with such crippled fingers, even if I wanted to. For a time after my marriage I tried to keep up my music. But it was hopeless. One-night stands, cheap hotels, dirty trains, leaving children, never having a home — [She stares at her hands with fascinated disgust.] See, Cathleen, how ugly they are! So maimed and crippled! You would think they'd been through some horrible accident! [She gives a strange little laugh.] So they have, come to think of it. [She suddenly thrusts her hands behind her back.] I won't look at them. They're worse than the foghorn for reminding me — [Then with defiant self-assurance.] But even they can't touch me now. [She brings her hands from behind her back and deliberately stares at them — calmly.] They're far away. I see them, but the pain has gone.

It wasn't the fog I minded, Cathleen. I really love fog. It hides you from the world and the world from you. You feel that everything has changed, and nothing is what it seemed to be. No one can find or touch you anymore. ItÂ’s the foghorn I hate. It won't let you alone. It keeps reminding you, and warning you, and calling you back.

Now look here, Smithers. They's two kind's of stealing. They's the small kind, like what you does, and the big kind, like I does. Fo' de small stealing dey put you in jail soon or late. But fo' de big stealin' dey puts your picture in de paper and yo' statue in de Hall of Fame when you croak. If dey's one thing I learned in ten years on de Pullman cars, listenin' to de white quality talk, it's dat same fact. And when I gits a chance to use it . . . from stowaway to emperor in two years. Dat's goin' some!

Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beauty of flesh and the living colors of earth and sky and sea? Why am I afraid of love, I who love love? Why must I hide myself in self-contempt in order to understand? Why was I born without a skin, O God, that I must wear armor in order to touch or to be touched?

Censorship of anything, at any time, in any place, on whatever pretense, has always been and always will be the last resort of the boob and the bigot.

Author Picture
First Name
Eugene
Last Name
O'Neill, fully Eugene Gladstone O'Neill
Birth Date
1888
Death Date
1953
Bio

Irish American Playwright, Nobel Laureate in Literature