Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

F. Scott Fitzgerald, fully Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald

American Novelist, Short-Story Writer best known for The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night which were both made into films

"The compensation of a very early success is a conviction that life is a romantic matter. In the best sense one stays young."

"Having once found the intensity of art, nothing else that can happen in life can ever again seem as important as the creative process."

"I remember riding a taxi one afternoon between very tall buildings under a mauve and rosy sky; I began to bawl because I had everything I wanted and knew that I would never be so happy again."

"Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over."

"No grand idea was ever born in a conference, but a lot of foolish ideas have died there."

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise."

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see things as hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise."

"The victor belongs to the spoils."

"Genius is the ability to put into effect what is in your mind."

"Action is character. "

"Forgotten is forgiven."

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."

"To write it, it took three months; to conceive it three minutes; to collect the data in it all my life."

"An author ought to write for the youth of his generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of the afterward."

"You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say."

"Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope."

"Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead."

"I never blame failures - there are too many complicated situations in life, but I am absolutely merciless toward lack of effort."

"If you're strong enough, there are no precedents. "

"A big man has no time really to do anything but just sit and be big."

"A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up towards the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-coloured rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea."

"A classic,' suggested Anthony, 'is a successful book that has survived the reaction of the next period or generation. Then it's safe, like a style in architecture or furniture. It's acquired a picturesque dignity to take the place of its fashion."

"A lonesome town, though. He who had grown up alone had lately learned to avoid solitude. During the past several months he had been careful, when he had no engagement for the evening, to hurry to one of his clubs and find someone. Oh there was a loneliness here--"

"A love affair is like a short story--it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning was easy, the middle might drag, invaded by commonplace, but the end, instead of being decisive and well knit with that element of revelatory surprise as a well-written story should be, it usually dissipated in a succession of messy and humiliating anticlimaxes."

"A man who was aware that there could be no honor and yet had honor, who knew the sophistry of courage and yet was brave."

"A man's social rank is determined by the amount of bread he eats in a sandwich."

"A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about."

"A pause; it endured horribly."

"A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired."

"A returned battalion of the National Guard paraded through the streets with open ranks for their dead and then stepped down out of romance forever and sold you things over the counters of local stores."

"A girl who could send tear-stained telegrams."

"A great social success is a pretty girl who plays her cards as carefully as if she were plain."

"A sense of responsibility would spoil her. She's too pretty."

"A sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth."

"A squalid phantasmagoria of breath."

"A stirring warmth flowed from her, as if her heart was trying to come out to you concealed in one of those breathless, thrilling words."

"A stout, middle-aged man, with enormous owl-eyed spectacles, was sitting somewhat drunk on the edge of a great table, staring with unsteady concentration at the shelves of books. As we entered he wheeled excitedly around and examined Jordan from head to foot. What do you think? he demanded impetuously. About what? He waved his hand toward the book-shelves. About that. As a matter of fact you needn’t bother to ascertain. I ascertained. They’re real. The books? He nodded. Absolutely real — have pages and everything. I thought they’d be a nice durable cardboard. Matter of fact, they’re absolutely real. Pages and — Here! Lemme show you. Taking our scepticism for granted, he rushed to the bookcases and returned with Volume One of the Stoddard Lectures. See! he cried triumphantly. It’s a bona-fide piece of printed matter. It fooled me. This fella’s a regular Belasco. It’s a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop, too — didn’t cut the pages. But what do you want? What do you expect?"

"A sudden emptiness seemed to flow now from the windows and the great doors, endowing with complete isolation the figure of the host, who stood on the porch, his hand up in a formal gesture of farewell."

"A woman should be able to kiss a man beautifully and romantically without any desire to be either his wife or his mistress."

"A writer like me must have an utter confidence, an utter faith in his star. It's an almost mystical feeling, a feeling of nothing-can-happen-to-me, nothing-can-harm-me, nothing-can-touch-me."

"Actually that’s my secret — I can’t even talk about you to anybody because I don’t want any more people to know how wonderful you are."

"Advertising is a racket, like the movies and the brokerage business. You cannot be honest without admitting that its constructive contribution to humanity is exactly minus zero."

"After all, in the very casualness of Gatsby's party there were romantic possibilities totally absent from her world."

"After all, life hasn't much to offer except youth, and I suppose for older people, the love of youth in others."

"A writer wastes nothing."

"A sudden gust of rain blew over them and then another - as if small liquid clouds were bouncing along the land. Lightning entered the sea far off and the air blew full of crackling thunder. The table cloths blew around the pillars. They blew and blew and blew. The flags twisted around the red chairs like live things, the banners were ragged, the corners of the table tore off through the burbling billowing ends of the cloths."

"After slipping on a negligee and making herself comfortable on the lounge, she became conscious that she was miserable and that the tears were rolling down her cheeks. She wondered if they were the tears of self-pity, and tried resolutely not to cry, but this existence without hope, without happiness, oppressed her, and she kept shaking her head from side to side, her mouth drawn down tremulously in the corners, as though she were denying the assertion made by someone, somewhere. She did not know that this gesture of hers was years older than history, that, for a hundred generations of men, intolerable and persistent grief has offered that gesture, of denial, of protest, of bewilderment, to something more profound, more powerful than the God made in the image of man, and before which that God, did he exist, would be equally impotent. It is a truth set at the heart of tragedy that this force never explains, never answers - this force intangible as air, more definite than death."

"After GatsbyÂ’s death the East was haunted for me like that, distorted beyond my eyeÂ’s power of correction."

"After marriage came elation, and then, gradually, the growth of weariness. Responsibility descended upon Merlin, the responsibility of making his thirty dollars a week and her twenty suffice to keep them respectably fat and to hide with decent garments the evidence that they were."

"After dark on Saturday night one could stand on the first tee of the golf-course and see the country-club windows as a yellow expanse over a very black and wavy ocean. The waves of this ocean, so to speak, were the heads of many curious caddies, a few of the more ingenious chauffeurs, the golf professional's deaf sister--and there were usually several stray, diffident waves who might have rolled inside had they so desired. This was the gallery. The balcony was inside. It consisted of the circle of wicker chairs that lined the wall of the combination clubroom and ballroom. At these Saturday-night dances it was largely feminine; a great babel of middle-aged ladies with sharp eyes and icy hearts behind lorgnettes and large bosoms. The main function of the balcony was critical. It occasionally showed grudging admiration, but never approval, for it is well known among ladies over thirty-five that when the younger set dance in the summer-time it is with the very worst intentions in the world, and if they are not bombarded with stony eyes stray couples will dance weird barbaric interludes in the corners, and the more popular, more dangerous, girls will sometimes be kissed in the parked limousines of unsuspecting dowagers. But, after all, this critical circle is not close enough to the stage to see the actors' faces and catch the subtler byplay. It can only frown and lean, ask questions and make satisfactory deductions from its set of postulates, such as the one which states that every young man with a large income leads the life of a hunted partridge. It never really appreciates the drama of the shifting, semicruel world of adolescence. No; boxes, orchestra-circle, principals, and chorus are represented by the medley of faces and voices that sway to the plaintive African rhythm of Dyer's dance orchestra."