Thornton Wilder, fully Thornton Niven Wilder

Thornton
Wilder, fully Thornton Niven Wilder
1897
1975

American Playwright and Novelist awarded three Pulitzer Prizes

Author Quotes

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.''

We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.

The tiny tealeaf of consciousness spreads its bittersweet smoke through the sea of the primitive mind. Law is invented, then morality, then love, then forgiveness. Thousands and thousands of ideas, knit together over time, each one less practical and more ornamental than the last, all stretched taut above the wandering, wondering heads like a little pavilion; a temporary shelter for the human project.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.

The type of the Inevitable is death. I remember well that in my youth I believed that I was certainly exempt from its operation. First when my daughter died, next when you were wounded, I knew that I was mortal; and now I regard those years as wasted, as unproductive, in which I was not aware that my death was certain, nay, momently possible. I can now appraise at a glance those who have not yet foreseen their death. I know them for the children they are. They think that by evading its contemplation they are enhancing the savor of life. The reverse is true: only those who have grasped their non-being are capable of praising the sunlight.

We do not choose the day of our birth nor may we choose the day of our death, yet choice is the sovereign faculty of the mind.

The unencumbered stage encourages the truth operative in everyone. The less seen, the more heard. The eye is the enemy of the ear in real drama.

We live in what is, but we find 1,000 ways not to face it. Great theatre strengthens our faculty to face it.

The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living.

We ourselves shall be loved for awhile and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses

The whole purport of literature... is the notation of the heart. Style is but the faintly contemptible vessel in which the bitter liquid is recommended to the world.

When God loves a creature he wants the creature to know the highest happiness and the deepest misery He wants him to know all that being alive can bring. That is his best gift. There is no happiness save in understanding the whole.

There are the stars--doing their old, old crisscross journeys in the sky. Scholars haven't settled the matter yet, but they seem to think there are no living beings out there. Just chalk... or fire. Only this one is straining away, straining away all the time to make something of itself. Strain's so bad that every sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest.

When you're safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you're having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.

There is no drunkenness equal to that of remembering whispered words in the night.

Whenever you get near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense.

There is no need for me to curse you -the murderer survives the victim only to learn that it was himself that he longed to be rid of. Hatred is self-hatred.

Where there is an unknowable there is a promise.

There is not a single untruth, no -but after ten lines Truth shrieks, she runs distraught and disheveled through her temple's corridors; she does not know herself. 'I can endure lies,' she cries. 'I cannot survive this stifling verisimilitude

Wherever you come near the human race there’s layers and layers of nonsense.

There's nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside your head.

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 knowledge that she would never be loved in return acted upon her ideas as a tide acts upon cliffs. Her religious beliefs went first, for all she could ask of a god, or of immortality, was the gift of a place where daughters love their mothers; the other attributes of Heaven you could have for a song. Next she lost her belief in the sincerity of those about her. She secretly refused to believe that anyone (herself excepted) loved anyone. All families lived in a wasteful atmosphere of custom and kissed one another with secret indifference. She saw that the people of this world moved about in an armor of egotism, drunk with self-gazing, a thirst for compliments, hearing little of what was said to them, unmoved by the accidents that befell their closest friends, in dread of all appeals that might interrupt their long communion with their own desires. These were the sons and daughters of Adam from Cathay to Peru. And when on the balcony her thoughts reached this turn, her mouth would contract with shame for she knew that she too sinned and that though her love for her daughter was vast enough to include all the colors of love, it was not without a shade of tyranny: she loved her daughter not for her daughter's sake, but for her own. She longed to free herself from this ignoble bond; but the passion was too fierce to cope with.

There's nothing like mixing with a woman to bring out all the foolishness in a man of sense.

Without your wounds where would your power be? It is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men and women. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve. Physician, draw back.

Author Picture
First Name
Thornton
Last Name
Wilder, fully Thornton Niven Wilder
Birth Date
1897
Death Date
1975
Bio

American Playwright and Novelist awarded three Pulitzer Prizes