HumanitiesWeb.org - The Remarkable Wit of Wystan Hugh Auden [Quotations]
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Wystan Hugh Auden
Quotations



"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh."

"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh."
 
"No opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible."
- in Time
 
"One cannot review a bad book without showing off."
 
"Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered."
- The Dyer's Hand, 'Reading'
 
"We are here on Earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don't know."
 
"Of course, Behaviourism 'works'. So does torture. Give me a no-nonsense, down-to-earth behaviourist, a few drugs, and simple electrical appliances, and in six months I will have him reciting the Athanasian Creed in public."
- A Certain World
 
"Good can imagine Evil; but Evil cannot imagine Good."
- A Certain World
 
"All sin tends to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation."
- A Certain World
 
"No hero is immortal till he dies."
- A Short Ode to a Philologist
 
"The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar, and is shocked by the unexpected: the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition."
- The Dyer's Hand
 
"Man is a history-making creature who can neither repeat his past nor leave it behind."
- The Dyer's Hand, 'D. H. Lawrence'
 
"It's a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practising it."
- The Dyer's Hand
 
"To ask the hard question is simple."
- The Question
 
"A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us."
 
"Between friends differences in taste or opinion are irritating in direct proportion to their triviality."
 
"Evil is unspectacular and always human and shares our bed and eats at our own table."
 
"If there are any of you at the back who do not hear me, please don't raise your hands because I am also nearsighted."
- Starting a lecture in a large hall In Book of the Month Club News, Dec 1946
 
"It's a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can practicing it."
 
"Let us honor if we can the vertical man, though we value none but the horizontal one."
- Epigraph for Poems
 
"No hero is immortal till he dies."
- A Short Ode to a Philologist
 
"Political history is far too criminal and pathological to be a fit subject of study for the young. Children should acquire their heroes and villains from fiction."
- A Certain World
 
"To ask the hard question is simple."
 
"Art arises out of our desire for both beauty and truth and our knowledge that they are not identical."
- The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays
 
"Yet no one hears his own remarks as prose."
- At a Party
 
"All sin tends to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation."
- A Certain World
 
"No poet or novelist wishes he were the only one whoever lived, but most of them wish they were the only one alive, and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted."
- The Dyer's Hand, 'Writing'
 
"What we have not named as a symbol escapes our notice."
 
"Sincerity is technique."
 
"Look if you like, but you will have to leap."
- on writing
 
"Get up very early and get going at once. In fact, work first and wash afterwards."
 
"Civilization is a little citadel of light in a malignant sea of darkness. "
 
"His portraits of abnormal or self-destructive states contributed much to Dostoyevsky, his ratiocinating hero is the ancestor of Sherlock Holmes and his many successors, his tales of the future lead to H. G. Wells, his adventure stories to Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson."
- Regarding Edgar Allen Poe
 
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