Great Throughts Treasury

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


"Your true... tragedy is enacted on the stage of a man’s soul, and with the man’s reasons as lone auditor." -

"Ignoring the possibility of personal involvement is the first step to panic and tragedy." -

"Giving up is the ultimate tragedy." - Robert J. Donovan

"A life shot through with the tragedy of death is better - more human, more heroic - than a life of meaninglessness, even though pleasurable and comfortable." - Emil Fackenheim, fully Emil Ludwig Fackenheim

"The reflection that strikes the heart is not that the evils before us are real evils but that they are evils to which we ourselves may be exposed... The delight of tragedy proceeds from our consciousness of fiction; if we thought murders and treasons real, they would please no more." -

"The tragedy of all political action is that some problems have no solution; none of the alternatives are intellectually consistent or morally uncompromising; and whatever decision is taken will harm somebody." - James Joll

"It may well be that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition is not the glaring noisiness of the so-called bad people, but the appalling silence of the so-called good people. It may be that our generation will have to repent not only for the diabolical actions and vitriolic words of the children of darkness, but also for the crippling fears and tragic apathy of the children of light." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The great tragedy of life is not that men perish, but they cease to love." -

"Lack of something to feel important about is almost the greatest tragedy a man may have." - Arthur Ernest Morgan

"The metaphysical comfort - with which, I am suggesting even now, every true tragedy leaves us - that life is at the bottom of things, despite all the changes of appearances, indestructibly powerful and pleasurable - this comfort appears in the incarnate clarity in the chorus of satyrs, a chorus of natural being who live ineradicably, as it were behind all civilization and remain eternally the same, despite the changes of generations and of the history of nations." -

"The greatest tragedy is indifference." -

"Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a purpose... The tragedy of man is what dies inside himself while he still lives." - Albert Schweitzer

"Only a great mind overthrown yields tragedy." -

"People are much greater and stronger than we imagine, and when unexpected tragedy comes we see them often grow to a stature that is far beyond anything we imagined. We must remember that people are capable of greatness, of courage, but not in isolation. They need the conditions of solidly linked human unit in which everyone is prepared to bear the burden of others." - Anthony of Sourozh, fully Archbishop Metropolitan Anthony Bloom of Sourozh NULL

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

"Comedy is tragedy - plus time." -

"Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt." - Clarence Darrow, fully Clarence Seward Darrow

"Herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that men are poor, - all men know something of poverty; not that all men are wicked, - who is good? Not that men are ignorant, - what is truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men." -

"The tragedy of war is that it uses man's best to do man's worst." - Harry Emerson Fosdick

"Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late." - Benjamin Franklin

"It is, indeed, one of the capital tragedies of youth - and youth is the time of real tragedy - that the young are thrown mainly with adults they do not quite respect." - H. L. Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken

"We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves... The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined." - N. Scott Momaday, fully Navarre Scott Momaday

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

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his." -

"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 recognition of the fragility of human life and all in it, as well as the ever-present possibility of tragedy, is essential to understanding the role of love in the meaningful life… Altruism cannot be motivated by pure reason alone. The desire to do good is rooted not in reason but in the varieties of love: the love for a partner, familial love or a kind of general love or fellow feeling for others. Without such love, all the rational reasons in the world would not motivate us to do good." - Julian Baggini

"Your true... tragedy is enacted on the stage of a man’s soul, and with the man’s reasons as lone auditor." - James Branch Cabell

"It is the tragedy of the world that no one knows what they don't know; and the less a person knows, the more sure they are that they know everything." - Joyce Cary

"Religious faith must enable us to face tragedy and finitude in the devastating and bewildering particular forms they come to us without giving in to despair or morbidity." - James W. Fowler III

"It is the Law that any difficulties that can come to you at any time, no matter what they are, must be exactly what you need most at the moment, to enable you to take the next step forward by overcoming them. There need be no unqualified evils. The only real misfortune, the only real tragedy, comes when we suffer without learning the lesson." - Emmet Fox

"God is the source and goal of ideals by which to live triumphantly in the face of starkest grief. The sufferer who finds God as the strength and mainstay of his life does not merely acquiesce before the inevitable with stoic fortitude. He looks the tragedy in the face, and looks up to new heights of spiritual beauty to which he may mount by using his grief as a stairway to God’s glory." - Georgia Harkness

"The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less." - Václav Havel

"The future must have as its basis the consciousness of sanctity in existence – in common things, in the events of human life, in the gradually comprehended interlocking whole revealed to the human desire for knowledge, n the benedictions of beauty and love, in the catharsis, the sacred purging, of the moral drama in which character is pitted against fate and even deepest tragedy may uplift the mind." - Julian Huxley, fully Sir Julian Sorell Huxley

"The real tragedy is that we’re all human beings, and human beings have a sense of dignity. Any domination by one human over another leads to a loss of some part of his dignity. Is one’s dignity that big it can be crumbled away like that?" - Yusuf Idris, also Yusif Idris

"The real tragedy of our prayers is not that God so often refuses to grant them. The tragedy is we so often ask for the wrong thing." - Ronald Knox, fully Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

"The tragedy of our time is “the treason of the clerks,” that is, the failure of our best minds to give themselves to contemplation of truth, and their undue preoccupation with immediate problems to the neglect of the deeper problems." - Bernard Leeming

"Getting used to our blessings I one of the most important non-evil generators of human evil, tragedy and suffering" -

"The successful cannot always prevent a tragedy around them, but they can prevent it from becoming a tragedy within them." - Michael Dean Murdock

"[Motto] The greatest tragedy is indifference." - Red Cross NULL

"The tragedy of life is not… in the fact of death itself. The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives." - Albert Schweitzer

"The tragedy of modern Jewish life is not anti-Semitism, but the loss of the sense of the worthwhileness of being a Jew." - Trude Weiss-Rosmarin

"It feels unseemly to defend the vaporizing of two cities, events that are regarded in some quarters among the most monstrous acts of the twentieth century. But we owe it to history to appreciate that the greatest tragedy of Hiroshima was not that so many people were incinerated in an instant, but that in a complex and brutal world, the alternatives were worse." - Nicholas D. Kristof, fully Nicholas Donabet Kristof

"Each generation leaves its own mark on the sands of time. It is always a tragedy when a new generation accepts as final what has been done in the past, thus denying itself the right to explore and develop new paths, new insights, and new responses to life and living." - Gerald Alexander Larue

"The tragedy of life is not found in failure but complacency. Not in you doing too much, but doing too little. Not in you living above your means, but below your capacity. Never failure but low aim, is life greatest tragedy." - Benjamin E. Mayes

"Where love, trust, mutual aid, equality, and empathy are not linked, the boot, whip, warring, modern inquisitors, and their epigones will supply a rhetoric that accepts humanity's fate as tragic while doing everything to perpetuate that tragedy." - Marcus G. Raskin

"The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives." - Albert Schweitzer

"The essence of dramatic tragedy is not unhappiness. It resides in the solemnity of the remorseless working of things. This inevitableness of destiny can only be illustrated in terms of human life by incidents which in fact involve unhappiness. For it is only by them that the futility of escape can be made evident in the drama." - Alfred North Whitehead

"The deepest definition of Youth is, Life as yet untouched by tragedy." - Alfred North Whitehead

"The deepest definition of youth is, life as yet untouched by tragedy." - Alfred North Whitehead

"The future is big with every possibility of achievement and of tragedy." - Alfred North Whitehead