Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

George Jean Nathan

American Drama Critic, Social Critic, Editor, Memorist

"Art is reaching out into the ugliness of the world for vagrant beauty and the imprisoning of it in a tangible dream."

"Love demands infinitely less than friendship."

"It is the mask of a superior man that, left to himself, he is able endlessly to amuse, interest and entertain himself out of his personal stock of meditations, ideas, criticisms, memories, philosophy, humor and what not."

"Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles."

"To speak of morals in art is to speak of legislature in sex. Art is the sex of the imagination."

"Indignation is the seducer of thought. No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched."

"Be satisfied with life always but never with one's self."

"Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote."

"The notion that as man grows older his illusions leave him is not quite true. What is true is that his early illusions are supplanted by new and, to him, equally convincing illusions."

"Art is the sex of imagination."

"No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched. "

"What passes for woman's intuition is often nothing more than man's transparency. "

"Women, as they grow older, rely more and more on cosmetics. Men, as they grow older, rely more and more on a sense of humor. "

"A life spent in constant labor is a life wasted, save a man be such a fool as to regard a fulsome obituary notice as ample reward."

"A broken heart is a monument to a love that will never die; fulfillment is a monument to a love that is already on its deathbed."

"A man admires a woman not for what she says, but what she listens to."

"A man's wife is his compromise with the illusion of his first sweetheart."

"A ready way to lose your friend is to lend him money. Another equally ready way to lose him is to refuse to lend him money. It is six of one and a half dozen of the other."

"An actor without a playwright is like a hole without a doughnut"

"An optimist is a fellow who believes a housefly is looking for a way to get out."

"Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote"

"Beauty makes idiots sad and wise men merry."

"A man reserves his true and deepest love not for the species of woman in whose company he finds himself electrified and enkindled, but for that one in whose company he may feel tenderly drowsy."

"A man may be said to love most truly that woman in whose company he can feel drowsy in comfort."

"Common sense, in so far as it exists, is all for the bourgeoisie. Nonsense is the privilege of the aristocracy. The worries of the world are for the common people."

"Criticism is the art of appraising others at one's own value."

"Criticism is the windows and chandeliers of art: it illuminates the enveloping darkness in which art might otherwise rest only vaguely discernible, and perhaps altogether unseen."

"Great art is as irrational as great music. It is mad with its own loveliness."

"Hollywood is ten million dollars-worth of intricate and high ingenious machinery functioning elaborately to put skin on baloney."

"I have yet to find a man worth his salt in any direction who did not think of himself first and foremost."

"I know many married men, I even know a few happily married men, but I don't know one who wouldn't fall down the first open coal hole running after the first pretty girl who gave him a wink."

"I only drink to make other people seem interesting."

"It is also said of me that I now and then contradict myself. Yes, I improve wonderfully as time goes on."

"It is only the cynicism that is born of success that is penetrating and valid."

"It may be said that artist and censor differ in this wise: that the first is a decent mind in an indecent body and that the second is an indecent mind in a decent body"

"Like everybody else, when I don't know what else to do, I seem to go in for catching colds."

"Love is an emotion experienced by the many and enjoyed by the few."

"Love is the emotion that a woman feels always for a poodle dog and sometimes for a man."

"Marriage is based on the theory that when man discovers a brand of beer exactly to his taste he should at once throw up his job and go work in the brewery."

"My code of life and conduct is simply this: work hard, play to the allowable limit, disregard equally the good and bad opinion of others, never do a friend a dirty trick, eat and drink what you feel like when you feel like, never grow indignant over anything, trust to tobacco for calm and serenity, bathe twice a day ... learn to play at least one musical instrument and then play it only in private, never allow one's self even a passing thought of death, never contradict anyone or seek to prove anything to anyone unless one gets paid for it in cold, hard coin, live the moment to the utmost of its possibilities, treat one's enemies with polite inconsideration, avoid persons who are chronically in need, and be satisfied with life always but never with one's self."

"Never underestimate the ignorance of the American audience."

"One does not go to the theater to see life and nature; one goes to see the particular way in which life and nature happen to look to a cultivated, imaginative and entertaining man who happens, in turn, to be a playwright."

"Opening night is the night before the play is ready to open."

"Opera in English is, in the main, just about as sensible a plea as baseball in Italian."

"Politics is the diversion of trivial men who, when they succeed at it, become important in the eyes of more trivial men."

"Sex touches the heavens only when it simultaneously touches the gutter and the mud."

"Shaw writes his plays for the ages, the ages between five and twelve."

"So long as there is one pretty girl left on the stage, the professional undertakers may hold up their burial of the theater."

"The man who exercises his intelligence in the presence of a woman may gain a friend or a wife, but never a sweetheart."

"The most poignantly personal autobiography of a biographer is the biography he has written of another man."