Van Wyck Brooks

Van Wyck
Brooks
1886
1963

American Literary Critic, Biographer and Historian, Pulitzer Prize for History, American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism

Author Quotes

Never forget that it is we New Yorkers and New Englanders who have the monopoly of whatever oxygen there is in the American continent.

Nothing is so soothing to our self-esteem as to find our bad traits in our forebears. It seems to absolve us.

People of small caliber are always carping. They are bent on showing their own superiority, their knowledge or prowess or good breeding.

The American mind, unlike the English, is not formed by books, but, as Carl Sandburg once said to me, by newspapers and the Bible.

The creative impulses of man are always at war with the possessive impulses.

The man who has the courage of his platitudes is always a successful man.

A man who has the courage of his platitudes is always a successful man. The instructed man is ashamed to pronounce in an orphic manner what everybody knows, and because he is silent people think he is making fun of them. They like a man who expresses their own superficial thoughts in a manner that appears to be profound. This enables them to feel that they are themselves profound.

Those of our writers who have possessed a vivid personal talent have been paralyzed by a want of social background.

As against having beautiful workshops, studios, etc., one writes best in a cellar on a rainy day.

Better the fragrant herb of wit and a little cream of affability than all the pretty cups in the world.

Earnest people are often people who habitually look at the serious side of things that have no serious side.

Genius and virtue are to be more often found clothed in gray than in peacock bright.

If men were basically evil, who would bother to improve the world instead of giving it up as a bad job at the outset?

It is not that the French are not profound, but they all express themselves so well that we are led to take their geese for swans.

Magnanimous people have no vanity, they have no jealousy, and they feed on the true and the solid wherever they find it. And, what is more, they find it everywhere.

No man should ever publish a book until he has first read it to a woman.

No one is fit to judge a book until he has rounded Cape Horn in a sailing vessel, until he has bumped into two or three icebergs, until he has been lost in the sands of the desert, until he has spent a few years in the House of the Dead.

Nothing is sadder than having worldly standards without worldly means.

There is no stopping the world’s tendency to throw off imposed restraints, the religious authority that is based on the ignorance of the many, the political authority that is based on the knowledge of the few.

Author Picture
First Name
Van Wyck
Last Name
Brooks
Birth Date
1886
Death Date
1963
Bio

American Literary Critic, Biographer and Historian, Pulitzer Prize for History, American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism