Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"The aim that comedy has in view is the same as that of the highest destiny of man, and this consists in liberating himself from the influence of violent passions, and taking a calm and lucid survey of all that surrounds him, and also of his own being, and of seeing everywhere occurrence rather than fate or hazard, and ultimately rather smiling at the absurdities than shedding tears and feeling anger at sight of the wickedness of man." - Friedrich Schiller, fully Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

"Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think." - Jean de La Bruyère

"Comedy is tragedy - plus time." -

"This world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel." - Hugh Walpole, fully Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole

"The soul is born old, but it grows young; that is the comedy of life. The body is born young and grows old; that is life's tragedy." -

"The inner and unconscious ideal which guides [the parents’] lives is precisely what touches the child; their words, their remonstrances, their punishments, their bursts of feeling even, are for him merely thunder and comedy; what they worship, that it is which his instinct divines and reflects." - Henri Frédéric Amiel

"I’m learning the difference between humor and comedy, between the laugh that lasts forever and the one that evaporates as soon as it hits the air. Humor is giving, and comedy is taking away. Humor is companionable, comedy cold. Humor is character, comedy personality." - Roger Rosenblatt

"Human reason exhausts itself ceaselessly to explain the inexplicable. Explanation itself is high comedy, as preposterous as trying to see the back of one's own head, but the vanity of the ego is boundless, and it becomes even more overblown by this very attempt to make sense of nonsense. The mind, in its identity with the ego, cannot by definition, comprehend reality; if it could, it would instantly dissolve itself upon recognizing its own illusory nature. It's only beyond the paradox of mind transcending ego that what Is stands forth, self-evident and dazzling in its infinite Absoluteness. And then all of these words are useless." -

"Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." - Peter Ustinov, fully Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov

"Comedy aims at representing men as worse, and tragedy as better than in real life." - Aristotle NULL

"If we turn from contemplating the world as a whole, and, in particular, the generations of men as they live their little hour of mock-existence, and then are swept away in rapid succession; if we turn from this, and look at life in its small details, as presented, say, in a comedy, how ridiculous it all seems ! It is like a drop of water seen through a microscope, a single drop teeming with infusoria; or a speck of cheese full of mites invisible to the naked eye. How e laugh as they bustle about so eagerly, and struggle with one another in so tiny a space! And whether here, or in the little span of human life, this terrible activity produces a comic effect." - Arthur Schopenhauer

"In tragedy every moment is eternity; in comedy, eternity is a moment." - Christopher Fry

"Tragedy and comedy are simply questions of value; a little misfit in life makes us laugh; a great one is tragedy and cause for expression of grief." - Elbert Green Hubbard

"Comedy is a socially acceptable form of hostility. That is what comics do, stand the world upside down." - George Carlin, fully George Denis Patrick Carlin

"Killing time is perhaps the essence of comedy, just as the essence of tragedy is killing eternity." -

"In all the tragedy and comedy of life, pain is mixed with pleasure." - Plato NULL

"If tragedy is an experience of hyperinvolvement, comedy is an experience of underinvolvement, of detachment." - Susan Sontag

"Every why hath a wherefore. -The Comedy of Errors. Act ii. Sc. 2." - William Shakespeare

"Human reason exhausts itself ceaselessly to explain the inexplicable. Explanation itself is high comedy, as preposterous as trying to see the back of one's own head, but the vanity of the ego is boundless, and it becomes even more overblown by this very attempt to make sense of nonsense. The mind, in its identity with the ego, cannot by definition, comprehend reality; if it could, it would instantly dissolve itself upon recognizing its own illusory nature. It's only beyond the paradox of mind transcending ego that what IS stands forth, self-evident and dazzling in its infinite Absoluteness. And then all of these words are useless." - David R. Hawkins, fully David Ramon Hawkins

"Life is a comedy for those who think... and a tragedy for those who feel. " - Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Oxford

"This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Oxford

"[Comedies], in the ancient world, were regarded as of a higher rank than tragedy, of a deeper truth, of a more difficult realization, of a sounder structure, and of a revelation more complete. The happy ending of the fairy tale, the myth, and the divine comedy of the soul, is to be read, not as a contradiction, but as a transcendence of the universal tragedy of man…. Tragedy is the shattering of the forms and of our attachments to the forms; comedy, the wild and careless, inexhaustible joy of life invincible." - Joseph Campbell

"Seldom do we realize that the world is practically no thicker to us than the print of our footsteps on the path. Upon that surface we walk and act our comedy of life, and what is beneath is nothing to us. But it is out from that under-world, from the dead and the unknown, from the cold moist ground, that these green blades have sprung." - Richard Jefferies, fully John Richard Jefferies

"When you get in these people when you...get these people in, say: 'Look, the problem is that this will open the whole, the whole Bay of Pigs thing, and the President just feels that' ah, without going into the details... don't, don't lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is sort of a comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it, 'the President believes that it is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again.' And, ah because these people are plugging for, for keeps and that they should call the FBI in and say that we wish for the country, don't go any further into this case, period!" - Richard Nixon, fully Richard Milhous Nixon

"I am sure that I would not make a good taxidermist; the temptation to improve upon nature would certainly be too strong for me. Think how easy it would be, when stuffing somebody's pet terrier, to slip a couple of human glass eyes into sockets, instead of the usual buttons. Then the owner would really be justified in saying that his pet looked almost human. If I were stuffing this two-headed calf, for instance, I could not resist making one head smile and the other one frown, so that they looked like masks of Comedy and Tragedy." - Robertson Davies

"No, the Golden Mean is not a sunny, untroubled nullity, but a deep awareness of possibilities, with one eye cocked toward Comedy and the other eye skewed toward Tragedy, and out of this feat of balanced observation emerges Humor, not as a foolish amusement or an escape from reality, but as a breadth of perception, and what Heracleitus called an attunement of opposite tensions, like that of the bow and the lyre. A reconciliation of opposites, indeed." - Robertson Davies

"Lord! haven't I seen you with the greatest authors in your hands, and don't I know how ready your attention is to wander when it's a book that asks for it, instead of a person?" - Wilkie Collins, fully William Wilkie Collins

"The rest of the people know the condition of the country, for they live in it, but Congress has no idea what is going on in America, so the President has to tell 'em." - Will Rogers, fully William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers

"If you live in a dark cellar too long, you will hate the sunshine. You may even have lost the power of the eye to tolerate light. From this comes hatred toward sunlight." - Wilhelm Reich

"The aim of education is to induce the largest amount of neurosis that the individual can bear without cracking." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"The world is getting to be such a dangerous place, a man is lucky to get out of it alive." - W. C. Fields, stage name for William Claude Dukenfield

"The consolations of space are nameless things. It was after the neurosis of winter. It was in the genius of summer that they blew up the statue of Jove among the boomy clouds. It took all day to quieten the sky and then to refill its emptiness again." - Wallace Stevens

"That serves to explain in part the necessity that women so often are to men. And it serves to explain how restless they are under her criticism; how impossible it is for her to say to them this book is bad, this picture is feeble, or whatever it may be, without giving far more pain and rousing far more anger than a man would do who gave the same criticism. For if she begins to tell the truth, the figure in the looking-glass shrinks; his fitness for life is diminished. How is he to go on giving judgement, civilising natives, making laws, writing books, dressing up and speechifying at banquets, unless he can see himself at breakfast and at dinner at least twice the size he really is?" - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"A heavy heart bears not a humble tongue; excuse me so, coming too short of thanks for my great suit so easily obtained. Love’s Labour’s Lost" - William Shakespeare

"A light wife doth make a heavy husband. The Merchant of Venice, Act v, Scene 1" - William Shakespeare

"A noble brother, whose nature is so far from doing harms, that he suspects none. King Lear, Act i, Scene 2" - William Shakespeare

"A tardiness in nature, a tardiness in nature which often leaves the history unspoken that it intends to do? My lord of Burgundy, what say you to the lady? Love's not love when it is mingled with regards that stand aloof from the entire point. Will you have her? She is herself a dowry. King Lear, Act i, Scene 1" - William Shakespeare

"A young man married is a man that 's marr'd. All 's Well that Ends Well. Act ii. Sc. 3." - William Shakespeare

"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now; your gambols, your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? Quite chap-fallen? Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come. ! Hamlet Prince of Denmark (Hamlet at V, i)" - William Shakespeare

"ALONSO: Give us kind keepers, heavens! What were these? SEBASTIAN: A living drollery. Now I will believe that there are unicorns; that in Arabia there is one tree, the phoenix' throne, one phoenix at this hour reigning there. ANTONIO: I'll believe both; and what does else want credit, come to me, and I'll be sworn 'tis true; travellers ne'er did lie, though fools at home condemn 'em. The Tempest, Act iii, Scene 3" - William Shakespeare

"And men sit down to that nourishment which is called supper. Love's Labour 's Lost. Act i. Sc. 1." - William Shakespeare

"Appear thou in the likeness of sigh; Speak but one rhyme, and I am satisfied! Cry but 'Ay me! pronounce but 'love' and 'dove': Speak to my gossip Venus one fair word, One nickname for her purblind son and heir Young Abraham Cupid, he that shot so true When King Cophetus loved the beggar maid! Romeo and Juliet, Act ii, Scene 1" - William Shakespeare

"Ay, but hearken, sir; though the chameleon Love can feed on the air, I am one that am nourished by my victuals, and would fain have meat." - William Shakespeare

"Bell, book and candle shall not drive me back when gold and silver becks me to come on. The Life and Death of King John, Act iii, Scene 3" - William Shakespeare

"BOTTOM: What is Pyramus? A lover or a tyrant? QUINCE: A lover that kills himself, most gallant, for love. Bottom. That will ask some tears in the true performing of it. If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes." - William Shakespeare

"But her's, which through the crystal tears gave light, shone like the moon in water seen by night." - William Shakespeare

"Come, I'll be friends with thee, Jack. Thou art going to the wars, and whether I shall ever see thee again or no, there is nobody cares. King Henry IV, Act ii, Scene 4" - William Shakespeare

"Like it or not, we live in a world where people will pay more attention to what a member of a famous boy band says on a technical subject as opposed to real scientists, who in theory should know more about what the hell they are talking about." - Drew Curtis

"O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain! My tables—meet it is i set it down that one may smile, and smile, and be a villain!" - William Shakespeare

"A thousand golden sheaves were lying there, shining and still, but not for long to stay— as if a thousand girls with golden hair might rise from where they slept and go away." - Edwin Arlington Robinson