Quotes by Cyril Connolly

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Cyril Connolly (10 September 1903 - 26 November 1974) was an English man of letters.

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In the sex war, thoughtlessness is the weapon of the male, vindictiveness of the female.

We love but once, for once only are we perfectly equipped for loving.
Youth is a period of missed opportunities.
The dread of loneliness is greater than the fear of bondage, so we get married.
Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grasped at once.
Green leaves on a dead tree is our epitaph -- green leaves, dear reader, on a dead tree.
The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication: that is why so many bad artists are unable to give it up.
There is no pain equal to that which two lovers can inflict on one another. This should be made clear to all who contemplate such a union. The avoidance of this pain is the beginning of wisdom, for it is strong enough to contaminate the rest of our lives.
There are many who dare not kill themselves for fear of what the neighbors will say.
A lazy person, whatever the talents with which he set out, will have condemned himself to second-hand thoughts and to second-rate friends.
There cannot be a personal God without a pessimistic religion. As soon as there is a personal God he is a disappointing God.
The goal of every culture is to decay through over-civilization; the factors of decadence, -- luxury, skepticism, weariness and superstition, -- are constant. The civilization of one epoch becomes the manure of the next.
Slums may well be breeding-grounds of crime, but middle-class suburbs are incubators of apathy and delirium.
Words today are like the shells and rope of seaweed which a child brings home glistening from the beach and which in an hour have lost their luster.
The more books we read, the clearer it becomes that the true function of a writer is to produce a masterpiece and that no other task is of any consequence.
Our memories are card indexes consulted and then returned in disorder by authorities whom we do not control.
The person who is master of their passions is reason's slave.
Today the function of the artist is to bring imagination to science and science to imagination, where they meet, in the myth.
The worst vice of the solitary is the worship of his food.
Whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising.
We must select the Illusion which appeals to our temperament and embrace it with passion, if we want to be happy.
Idleness is only a coarse name for my infinite capacity for living in the present.
All charming people have something to conceal, usually their total dependence on the appreciation of others.
The true index of a man's character is the health of his wife.
Never would it occur to a child that a sheep, a pig, a cow or a chicken was good to eat, while, like Milton's Adam, he would eagerly make a meal off fruits, nuts, thyme, mint, peas and broad beans which penetrate further and stimulate not only the appetite but other vague and deep nostalgias. We are closer to the Vegetable Kingdom than we know; is it not for man alone that mint, thyme, sage, and rosemary exhale crush me and eat me! -- for us that opium poppy, coffee-berry, tea-plant and vine perfect themselves? Their aim is to be absorbed by us, even if it can only be achieved by attaching themselves to roast mutton.
Like water, we are truest to our nature in repose.
Civilization is maintained by a very few people in a small number of places and we need only some bombs and a few prisons to blot it out altogether.
Except for poverty, incompatibility, opposition of parents, absence of love on one side and of desire to marry on both, nothing stands in the way of our happy union.
The English masses are lovable: they are kind, decent, tolerant, practical and not stupid. The tragedy is that they are too many of them, and that they are aimless, having outgrown the servile functions for which they were encouraged to multiply. One day these huge crowds will have to seize power because there will be nothing else for them to do, and yet they neither demand power nor are ready to make use of it; they will learn only to be bored in a new way.
Imprisoned in every fat man, a thin one is wildly signaling to be let out.
We are all serving a life sentence in the dungeon of the self.
As repressed sadists are supposed to become policemen or butchers so those with an irrational fear of life become publishers.
Were I to deduce any system from my feelings on leaving Eton, it might be called The Theory of Permanent Adolescence. It is the theory that the experiences undergone by boys at the great public schools, their glories and disappointments, are so intense as to dominate their lives and to arrest their development. From these it results that the greater part of the ruling class remains adolescent, school-minded, self-conscious, cowardly, sentimental, and in the last analysis homosexual.
Those of us who were brought up as Christians and have lost our faith have retained the sense of sin without the saving belief in redemption. This poisons our thought and so paralyses us in action.
The only happy talkers are dandies who extract pleasure from the very perishability of their material and who would not be able to tolerate the isolation of all other forms of composition; for most good talkers, when they have run down, are miserable; they know that they have betrayed themselves, that they have taken material which should have a life of its own, to dispense it in noises upon the air.
Classical and romantic: private language of a family quarrel, a dead dispute over the distribution of emphasis between man and nature.
No taste is so acquired as that for someone else's quality of mind.
A writer is in danger of allowing his talent to dull who lets more than a year go past without finding himself in his rightful place of composition, the small single unluxurious retreat of the twentieth century, the hotel bedroom.
There is immunity in reading, immunity in formal society, in office routine, in the company of old friends and in the giving of officious help to strangers, but there is no sanctuary in one bed from the memory of another. The past with its anguish will break through every defense-line of custom and habit; we must sleep and therefore we must dream.
Greed, like the love of comfort, is a kind of fear.
In America every woman has her set of girl-friends; some are cousins, the rest are gained at school. These form a permanent committee who sit on each other's affairs, who come out together, marry and divorce together, and who end as those groups of bustling, heartless well-informed club-women who govern society. Against them the Couple of Ehepaar is helpless and Man in their eyes but a biological interlude.
The one way to get thin is to re-establish a purpose in life.
It is a mistake to expect good work from expatriates for it is not what they do that matters but what they are not doing.
I review novels to make money, because it is easier for a sluggard to write an article a fortnight than a book a year, because the writer is soothed by the opiate of action, the crank by posing as a good journalist, and having an air hole. I dislike it. I do it and I am always resolving to give it up.
When I contemplate the accumulation of guilt and remorse which, like a garbage-can, I carry through life, and which is fed not only by the lightest action but by the most harmless pleasure, I feel Man to be of all living things the most biologically incompetent and ill-organized. Why has he acquired a seventy years life-span only to poison it incurably by the mere being of himself? Why has he thrown Conscience, like a dead rat, to putrefy in the well?
The civilized are those who get more out of life than the uncivilized, and for this we are not likely to be forgiven.
Civilization is an active deposit which is formed by the combustion of the present with the past. Neither in countries without a Present nor in those without a Past is it to be encountered. Proust in Venice, Matisse's birdcages overlooking the flower market at Nice, Gide on the seventeenth-century quais of Toulon, Lorca in Granada, Picasso by Saint-Germain-des-Pr?s: there lies civilization and for me it can exist only under those liberal regimes in which the Present is alive and therefore capable of assimilating the Past.
No city should be too large for a man to walk out of in a morning.
The artist is a member of the leisured classes who cannot pay for his leisure.
Vulgarity is the garlic in the salad of taste.
No one over thirty-five is worth meeting who has not something to teach us, --something more than we could learn for ourselves, from a book.
A great writer creates a world of his own and his readers are proud to live in it. A lesser writer may entice them in for a moment, but soon he will watch them filing out.
When writers meet they are truculent, indifferent, or over-polite. Then comes the inevitable moment. A shows B that he has read something of B s. Will B show A? If not, then A hates B, if yes, then all is well. The only other way for writers to meet is to share a quick pee over a common lamp-post.