Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Brendan Francis Behan

Irish Poet, Short Story Writer, Novelist, and Playwright who wrote in both Irish and English

"A man is already halfway in love with any woman who listens to him."

"At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one's lost self."

"Inspirations never go in for long engagements; they demand immediate marriage to action."

"Modern man's loss of a sense of being sinful doesn't spring from a feeling that he is inherently good. Rather, it springs from his feeling of being inherently ineffectual."

"Nothing hurts more than the friendly letter that one never got around to writing."

"The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it."

"The friendships that last are those wherein each friend respects the other's dignity. Every man ought to be friend with a nun and a whore and while talking with them forget which is which."

"The prospect of success in achieving our most cherished dream is not without its terrors. Who is more deprived and alone than the man who has achieved his dream?"

"When you are deeply absorbed in what you are doing, time gives itself to you like a warm and willing lover."

"People who ask our advice almost never take it. Yet we should never refuse to give it, upon request, for it often helps us to see our own way more clearly."

"There's no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary. "

"Ah, bless you, Sister, may all your sons be bishops."

"As regards drink, I can only say that in Dublin during the Depression when I was growing up, drunkenness was not regarded as a social disgrace. To get enough to eat was regarded as an achievement. To get drunk was a victory."

"All publicity is good, except an obituary notice."

"An author's first duty is to let down his country."

"Every man, through fear, mugs his aspirations a dozen times a day."

"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem. They've seen it done every day of the week, but they can't do it themselves."

"Every cripple has his own way of walking."

"Failure at a task may be the result of having tackled it at the wrong time."

"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves."

"Fame is failure disguised as money."

"He might have even forgotten what he'd told me; liars need good memories, but don't often have them, as I know, and everyone else knows from personal experience."

"He was born an Englishman and remained one for years."

"I am a drinker with a writing problem."

"I am a daylight atheist."

"I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer."

"I cannot imagine any crime worse than taking a life, can you? It'd depend whose life."

"I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn't make it worse."

"I am married to Beatrice Salkeld, a painter. We have no children, except me."

"I only drink on two occasions ? When I am thirsty and when I'm not."

"I never turned to drink. It seemed to turn to me."

"I saw a notice that said "Drink Canada Dry" and I've just started."

"I saw a sign which said, 'Drink Canada Dry' and I've just started."

"I respect kindness in human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don't respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper, and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer."

"I say myself no depressed words just depressed minds."

"If it was raining soup, the Irish would go out with forks."

"I was court-martialed in my absence, and sentenced to death in my absence, so I said they could shoot me in my absence."

"I'm a Communist by day and a Catholic as soon as it gets dark."

"In my childhood I could remember the whole week a damn sight better than I can now for all my family were in the Rising. And they told the stories to such good effect that I was in there with them? Now I have learned enough arithmetic to know that I could not possibly have taken part in an event which happened seven years before I was born, and it saddens me."

"I'm a drinker with writing problems."

"It is a good deed to forget a poor joke."

"It?s is not that the Irish are cynical. It?s rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody."

"It's great to be on your own for a bit, in the sun, and in the country. That's one thing you never were in Walton. Nor any other prison, I suppose. For all their solitary confinement you were watched and your every moment ? even at times when you'd give a dog a bit of privacy. What they call in Irish ? "Uaigneas gan ciuneas" ? loneliness with out peace."

"It's a queer world, God knows, but the best we have to be going on with."

"?It's not that the Irish are cynical. It's rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody."

"It's pretty damn hard to bring your uniqueness into actual being if you're always doing the same things as a lot of other people."

"Lying in bed, I could hear the trams far away in the distance. Turning the corners heavily, and gathering speed for the hills. I used to hear them back in Dublin on the Northside when I was small, lying in bed, avoiding the eye of the Sacred Heart in the picture on the far wall."

"My sins had fallen from me, because I had almost forgotten that there were such things and, when I got over it, my expulsion from religion, it was like being pushed outside a prison and told not to come back."

"Mother, they would praise my balls if I hung them high enough."

"Never throw stones at your mother, you'll be sorry for it when she's dead, never throw stones at your mother, throw bricks at your father instead."