Austrian Author, Novelist, Playwright, Journalist and Biographer
"It is never until one realizes that one means something to others that one feels there is any point or purpose in one's own existence."
"It is precisely those who are apparently aloof from the world who build for themselves a remarkable and thoroughly individual world in miniature, using their own special equipment, termite-like."
"It is usual for a woman, even though she may ardently desire to give herself to a man, to feign reluctance, to simulate alarm or indignation. She must be brought to consent by urgent pleading, by lies, adjurations, and promises. I know that only professional prostitutes are accustomed to answer such an invitation with a perfectly frank assent — prostitutes, or simple-minded, immature girls."
"Long-protracted suffering is apt to exhaust not only the invalid, but the compassion of others; violent emotions cannot be prolonged endlessly."
"Never can the innate power of a work be hidden or locked away. A work of art can be forgotten by time; it can be forbidden and rejected but the elemental will always prevail over the ephemeral."
"Names have a mysterious transforming power. Like a ring on a finger, a name may at first seem merely accidental, committing you to nothing; but before you realize its magical power, it's gotten under your skin, become part of you and your destiny."
"Nothing whets the intelligence more than a passionate suspicion; nothing develops all the faculties of an immature mind more than a trail running away into the dark."
"Nothing is quite as splendidly uplifting to the heart as the defeat of a human being who battles against the invincible superiority of fate. This is always the most grandiose of all tragedies, one sometimes created by a dramatist but created thousands of times by life."
"Nothing that has ever been thought and said with a clear mind and pure ethical strength is totally in vain; even if it comes from a weak hand and is imperfectly formed, it inspires the ethical spirit to constantly renewed creation."
"Often the presence of mind and energy of a person remote from the spotlight decide the course of history for centuries to come."
"One never gets to know a person's character better than by watching his behavior during decisive moments.... It is always only danger which forces the most deeply hidden strengths and abilities of a human being to come forth."
"Only the person who has experienced light and darkness, war and peace, rise and fall, only that person has truly experienced life."
"She was at that crucial age when a women begins to regret having stayed faithful to a husband she never really loved, when the glowing sunset colors of her beauty offer her one last, urgent choice between maternal and feminine love. At such a moment a life that seemed to have chosen its course long ago is questioned once again, for the last time the magic compass needle of the will hovers between final resignation and the hope of erotic experience."
"Only the misfortune of exile can provide the in-depth understanding and the overview into the realities of the world."
"States of profound happiness, like all other forms of intoxication, are apt to befuddle the wits; intense enjoyment of the present always makes one forget the past."
"The idea of Jewish unity, of a plan, an organization, unfortunately exists only in the brains of Hitler and Streicher."
"The free, independent spirit who commits himself to no dogma and will not decide in favor of any party has no homestead on earth."
"The life of our generation is now set. We do not have the power to influence the flow of events, and no right to offer advice to the next generation."
"The soul is made of stuff so mysteriously elastic that a single event can make it big enough to contain the infinite."
"The strength of a love is always misjudged if we evaluate it by its immediate cause and not the stress that went before it, the dark and hollow space full of disappointment and loneliness that precedes all the great events in the heart's history."
"The organic fundamental error of humanism was that it desired to educate the common people (on whom it looked down) from its lofty stance instead of trying to understand them and to learn from them."
"The union of opposites, in so far as they are really complementary, always results in the most perfect harmony; and the seemingly incongruous is often the most natural."
"Time to leave now, get out of this room, go somewhere, anywhere; sharpen this feeling of happiness and freedom, stretch your limbs, fill your eyes, be awake, wider awake, vividly awake in every sense and every pore."
"There's an inherent limit to the stress that any material can bear. Water has its boiling point, metals their melting points. The elements of the spirit behave the same way. Happiness can reach a pitch so great that any further happiness can't be felt. Pain, despair, humiliation, disgust, and fear are no different. Once the vessel is full, the world can't add to it."
"Today, as a Jew, one should not have any position or accept any honors because it is difficult to live with those eternal compromises."
"There are two kinds of pity. One, the weak and sentimental kind, which is really no more than the heart's impatience to be rid as quickly as possible of the painful emotion aroused by the sight of another's unhappiness, that pity which is not compassion, but only an instinctive desire to fortify one's own soul against the sufferings of another; and the other, the only one that counts, the unsentimental but creative kind, which knows what it is about and is determined to hold out, in patience and forbearance, to the very limit of its strength and even beyond."
"Today, for a Jew who writes in the German language, it is totally impossible to make a living. In no group do I see as much misery, disappointment, desperation and hopelessness as in Jewish writers who write in German."
"Wanting to play against oneself is ultimately a paradox as big as wanting to jump over your own shadow"
"We can't forever be spending our lives paying for political follies that never gave us anything but always took from us, and I am content with the narrowest metes and bounds provided I have peace and quiet for work."
"We who have been hunted through the rapids of life, torn from our former roots, always driven to the end and obliged to begin again, victims and yet also the willing servants of unknown mysterious powers, we for whom comfort has become an old legend and security, a childish dream, have felt tension from pole to pole of our being, the terror of something always new in every fibre. Every hour of our years was linked to the fate of the world. In sorrow and in joy we have lived through time and history far beyond our own small lives, while they knew nothing beyond themselves. Every one of us, therefore, even the least of the human race, knows a thousand times more about reality today than the wisest of our forebears. But nothing was given to us freely; we paid the price in full."
"When it looks at great accomplishments, the world, bent on simplifying its images, likes best to look at the dramatic, picturesque moments experienced by its heroes.... But the no less creative years of preparation remain in the shadow."
"When one does another person an injustice, in some mysterious way it does one good to discover (or to persuade oneself) that the injured party has also behaved badly or unfairly in some little matter or other; it is always a relief to the conscience if one can apportion some measure of guilt to the person one has betrayed."
"When they are preparing for war, those who rule by force speak most copiously about peace until they have completed the mobilization process."
"You're going to tell me that poverty's nothing to be ashamed of. It's not true, though. If you can't hide it, then it is something to be ashamed of. There's nothing you can do, you're ashamed just the same, the way you're ashamed when you leave a spot on somebody's table. No matter if it's deserved or not, honorable or not, poverty stinks. Yes, stinks, stinks like a ground-floor room off an airshaft, or clothes that need changing. You smell it yourself, as though you were made of sewage. It can't be wiped away. It doesn't help to put on a new hat, any more than rinsing your mouth helps when you're belching your guts out. It's around you and on you and everyone who brushes up against you or looks at you knows it."
"With Nietzsche, the black pirates' flag appears for the first time on the high sea of German knowledge. (He is) a different man, from a different race, (his,) a new kind of heroism, philosophy ... with bellicose weapons and armor."