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 church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Never trust the artist. Trust the tale. The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it." - D. H. Lawrence, fully David Herbert "D.H." Lawrence

"It is the heart that makes the critic, not the nose." - Max Müller, fully Friedrich Max Müller

"We should behave toward our country as women do toward men they love. A loving wife will do anything for her husband except stop criticizing and trying to improve him. We should cast the same affectionate but sharp glance at our country. We should love it, but also insist upon telling all its faults. The noisy empty "patriot" not the critic is the dangerous citizen." - J (ohn) B (oynton) Priestley, Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) English Theologian, Philosopher or J (ohn) B (oynton) Priestly

"A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car." - Kenneth Tynan, fully Kenneth Peacock Tynan

"He must summon his people to be with him – yet stand above, not squat beside them. He must question his own wisdom and judgment – but not too severely. He must hear the opinions and heed the powers of others – but not too abjectly. He must appease the doubts of his critic and assuage the hurts of the adversary – sometimes. He must ignore their views and achieve their defeat – sometimes… He must respect action – without becoming intoxicated with his own. He must have a sense of purpose inspiring him to magnify the trivial event to serve his distant aim – and to grasp the thorniest crisis as if it were the merest nettle. He must be pragmatic, calculating, and earthbound – and still know when to spurn the arithmetic of expediency for the act of brave imagination, the sublime gamble with no hope other than the boldness of his vision" - Emmet John Hughes

"Each man has a choice in life: He may approach it as a creator or critic, a love or hater, a giver or taker." - Author Unknown NULL

"– Each man has a choice in life: he may approach it as a creator or a critic, a love or a hater, a giver or a taker." - Author Unknown NULL

"Once it was the skeptic, the critic of the status quo, who had to make a great effort. Today the skeptic is the status quo. The one who must make the effort is the man who seeks to create a new moral order." - John W. Gardner, fully John William Gardner

"What is this self inside us, this silent observer, severe and speechless critic, who can terrorize us and urge us on to futile activity, and in the end, judge us still more severely for the errors into which his own reproaches drove us?" - T. S. Eliot, fully Thomas Sterns Eliot

"It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at last fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"Half of the secular unrest and dismal, profane sadness of modern society comes from the vain ideas that every man is bound to be a critic for life. " - Henry Van Dyke, fully Henry Jackson Van Dyke

"A good deal of so-called atheism is itself, from my point of view, theologically significant. It is the working of God in history, and judgement upon the pious. An authentic prophet can be a radical critic of spurious piety, of sham spirituality." - James Luther Adams

"Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic on his own works." - John Keats

"Time is the only critic without ambition. " - John Steinbeck, fully John Ernst Steinbeck

"A true critic ought to dwell upon excellencies rather than imperfections, to discover the concealed beauties of a writer, and communicate to the world such things as are worth their observation. " - Joseph Addison

"Perfectionism doesn't believe in practice shots. It doesn't believe in improvement. Perfectionism has never heard that anything worth doing is worth doing badly--and that if we allow ourselves to do something badly we might in time become quite good at it. Perfectionism measures our beginner's work against the finished work of masters. Perfectionism thrives on comparison and competition. It doesn't know how to say, "Good try," or "Job well done." The critic does not believe in creative glee--or any glee at all, for that matter. No, perfectionism is a serious matter." - Julia Cameron

"A good drama critic is one who perceives what is happening in the theatre of his time. A great drama critic also perceives what is not happening." - Kenneth Tynan, fully Kenneth Peacock Tynan

"I have far more confidence in the one man who works mentally and bodily at a matter than in the six who merely talk about it — and I therefore hope and am fully persuaded that you are working. Nature is our kindest friend and best critic in experimental science if we only allow her intimations to fall unbiassed on our minds. Nothing is so good as an experiment which, whilst it sets an error right, gives us (as a reward for our humility in being reproved) an absolute advancement in knowledge." - Michael Faraday

"A critic is someone who enters the battlefield after the war is over and shoots the wounded." - Murray Kempton, fully James Murray Kempton

"A critic at my house sees some paintings. Greatly perturbed, he asks for my drawings. My drawings! Never! They are my letters, my secrets." - Paul Gaugin, fully Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin

"A critic is someone who meddles with something that is none of his business. " - Paul Gaugin, fully Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin

"Slyly, banteringly, but also overbearingly, the critic – the one who does not swallow anything whole, who waits until posterity has consecrated it before... howling – is among those who howl their admiration the way they howl their insults: don't be afraid, don't tremble – the beast doesn't have any nails or teeth, or even brain: it is stuffed. " - Paul Gaugin, fully Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin

"In the arts, the critic is the only independent source of information. The rest is advertising." - Pauline Kael

"How completely has mass culture subverted even the role of the critic when listeners suggest that because the movies a critic reviews favorably are unpopular and hard to find, that the critic must be playing some snobbish game with himself and the public?" - Pauline Kael

"The dilemma of the critic has always been that if he knows enough to speak with authority, he knows too much to speak with detachment." - Raymond Chandler, fully Raymond Thornton Chandler

"His face was tense with pain. But then, who notices when they meet a theatre critic whose face is tense with pain? It is one of the marks of the profession." - Robertson Davies

"It is particularly displeasing to hear professional critics using the term layman to describe people who are amateurs and patrons of those arts with which they are themselves professionally concerned. The fact that the critic gets money for knowing something, and giving public expression to his opinion, does not entitle him to consider the amateur, who may be as well informed and as sensitive as himself, an outsider." - Robertson Davies

"The critic must be reconciled to his necessary, ambiguous role, and however much he may caper, joke, and posture for us in his writings, we are unlikely to forget that he is a man who may, at any moment, tread heavily upon our dreams " - Robertson Davies

"When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck, Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck, Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck And march to your front like a soldier. Front, front, front like a soldier... If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white, Remember it's ruin to run from a fight: So take open order, lie down, and sit tight, And wait for supports like a soldier. Wait, wait, wait like a soldier. When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier. Go, go, go like a soldier, Go, go, go like a soldier, Go, go, go like a soldier, So-oldier of the Queen!" - Rudyard Kipling

"The thief. Once committed beyond a certain point he should not worry himself too much about not being a thief any more. Thieving is God's message to him. Let him try and be a good thief." - Samuel Butler

"Death is always and under all circumstances a tragedy, for if it is not, then it means that life itself has become one." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"It cannot be too often repeated that in this country, in the long run, we all of us tend to go up or go down together. If the average of well-being is high, it means that the average wage-worker, the average farmer, and the average business man are all alike well-off. If the average shrinks, there is not one of these classes which will not feel the shrinkage. Of course, there are always some men who are not affected by good times, just as there are some men who are not affected by bad times. But speaking broadly, it is true that if prosperity comes, all of us tend to share more or less therein, and that if adversity comes each of us, to a greater or less extent, feels the tension." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"It is better to be faithful than famous." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"The famous courtesan Clarimonde died recently, as the result of an orgy which lasted eight days and eight nights. It was something infernally magnificent. They revived the abominations of the feasts of Belshazzar and Cleopatra. Great God! what an age this is in which we live! The guests were served by swarthy slaves speaking an unknown tongue, who to my mind had every appearance of veritable demons; the livery of the meanest among them might have served as a gala-costume for an emperor. There have always been current some very strange stories concerning this Clarimonde, and all her lovers have come to a miserable or a violent end. It has been said that she was a ghoul, a female vampire; but I believe that she was Beelzebub in person." - Théophile Gautier, fully Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier, aka Le Bon Theo

"Ah, yes, superstition: it would appear to be cowardice in face of the supernatural." - Theophrastus NULL

"When he is forsaken, withered and shaken, what can an old man do but die? Spring it is cheery." - Thomas Hood

"Paradise is everywhere and every road, if one continues along it far enough, leads to it." - Henry Miller, aka Henry Valentine Miller

"If you will look about you (which most people won't do), says Sergeant Cuff, you will see that the nature of a man's tastes is, most times, as opposite as possible to the nature of a man's business." - Wilkie Collins, fully William Wilkie Collins

"A slight daily unconscious luxury is hardly ever wanting to the dwellers in civilization; like the gentle air of a genial climate, it is a perpetual minute enjoyment." - Walter Bagehot

"A great man knows the value of greatness; he dares not hazard it, he will not squander it." - Walter Savage Landor

"Against whom was it turned? Against whom did he conspire? Tum-tee-tum. And once more - TUM! ... I have not gone mad. I am merely producing gleeful little sounds. The kind of glee one experiences upon making an April Fool of someone. And a damned good fool I have made of someone. Who is he? Gentle reader, look at yourself in the mirror." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"My angel, oh my angel, perhaps our whole earthly existence is now but a pun to you, or a grotesque rhyme, something like dental and transcendental (remember?), and the true meaning of reality, of that piercing term, purged of all our strange, dreamy, masquerade interpretations, now sounds so pure and sweet that you, angel, find it amusing that we could have taken the dream so seriously (although you and I did have an inkling of why everything disintegrated at one furtive touch-- words, conventions of everyday life, systems, persons-- so, you know, I think laughter is some chance little ape of truth astray in our world." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"The current flows fast and furious. It issues in a spate of words from the loudspeakers and the politicians. Every day they tell us that we are a free people fighting to defend freedom. That is the current that has whirled the young airman up into the sky and keeps him circulating there among the clouds. Down here, with a roof to cover us and a gasmask handy, it is our business to puncture gasbags and discover the seeds of truth." - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"This is not “writing” at all. Indeed, I could say that Shakespeare surpasses literature altogether, if I knew what I meant." - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"Yet it is true that there was an absent mindedness about her which sometimes made her clumsy; she was apt to think of poetry when she should have been thinking of taffeta; her walk was a little too much of a stride for a woman, perhaps, and her gestures, being abrupt, might endanger a cup of tea on occasion." - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"I was in Bangalore, India, the Silicon Valley of India, when I realized that the world was flat." - Thomas L. Friedman, fully Thomas Lauren Friedman

"I am well aware of how anarchic much of what I say may sound. Expressing myself thus abstractly and briefly, I may seem to despair of the very notion of truth. But I beseech you to reserve your judgment until we see it applied to the details which lie before us. I do indeed disbelieve that we or any other mortal men can attain on a given day to absolutely incorrigible and unimprovable truth about such matters of fact as those with which religions deal. But I reject this dogmatic ideal not out of a perverse delight in intellectual instability. I am no lover of disorder and doubt as such. Rather do I fear to lose truth by this pretension to possess it already wholly." - William James

"Hem, you know I don't think that owner's wife where you live likes me. She wouldn't let me wait upstairs for you.' 'I'll tell her,' I said. 'Don't bother. I can always wait here. It's very pleasant in the sun now, isn't it?' 'It's fall now,' I said. 'I don't think you dress warmly enough.' 'It's only cool in the evening,' Evan said. 'I'll wear my coat.' 'Do you know where it is?' 'No. But it's somewhere safe.' 'How do you know?' 'Because I left the poem in it." - Ernest Hemingway, fully Ernest Miller Hemingway