Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Russell Lynes, fully Joseph Russell Lynes, Jr.

American Art Historian, Photographer, Author and Managing Editor of Harper's Magazine

"All social classes are divided down the middle by a line which, however classless we may think we are, maintains a state of social tension. On one side of the line are men; on the other, women."

"There is a truism about manners that can be stated didactically: Each generation believes that the manners of the generation that follows it have gone to hell in a hand basket."

"A lady is nothing very specific. One man's lady is another man's woman; sometimes, one man's lady is another man's wife. Definitions overlap but they almost never coincide."

"A truly appreciative child will break, lose, spoil, or fondle to death any really successful gift within a matter of minutes."

"Any real New Yorker is a you-name-it-we-have-it-snob whose heart brims with sympathy for the millions of unfortunates who through misfortune, misguidedness or pure stupidity live anywhere else in the world."

"Cynicism is the intellectual cripple's substitute for intelligence."

"Camouflage is a game we all like to play, but our secrets are as surely revealed by what we want to seem to be as by what we want to conceal."

"Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it."

"Clutter is what happens to things when they become useless but friendly."

"If you can't ignore an insult, top it; if you can't top it, laugh it off; and if you can't laugh it off, it's probably deserved."

"It is always well to accept your own shortcomings with candor but to regard those of your friends with polite incredulity."

"In my estimation, the only thing that is more to be guarded against than bad taste is good taste."

"For all its flexibility, television is more a mirror of taste than a shaper of it."

"The only graceful way to accept an insult is to ignore it; if you can’t ignore it, top it; if you can’t top it, laugh at it; if you can’t laugh at it, it’s probably deserved"

"The bungalow had more to do with how Americans live today than any other building that has gone remotely by the name of architecture in our history."

"The true snob never rests: there is always a higher goal to attain, and there are, by the same token, always more and more people to look down upon."

"It is unlikely that there has ever been a nation more reckless with its past than ours, so quick to tear down its monuments for the sake of a better real-estate deal, so careless with the genius of its architects and artists if they happened to stand in the way of what we call progress when what we mean is profit."

"The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one."

"The shaping of taste is essentially the science of merchandising, whether of detergents or cars or books or objects of fine and decorative art."

"There are times when you just get down, you feel like nobody likes you. We're in high school forever. It's just what we do with it."

"What we are headed for is a sort of social structure in which the highbrows are the elite, the middlebrows are the bourgeoisie and the lowbrows are hoi polloi."

"When it gets dark enough you can see the stars."

"Cynicism is the intellectual cripple?s substitute for intelligence. It is the dishonest businessman?s substitute for conscience. It is the communicator?s substitute, whether he is advertising man or editor or writer, for self-respect."

"It is always well to accept your own shortcomings."

"No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published."

"The highbrow sees as his real enemy the middlebrow, whom he regards as a pretentious and frivolous man or woman who uses culture to satisfy social or business ambitions."

"Ragtime was a fanfare for the 20th century."