This man is immortal precisely because of his aphorisms.
All thinking men are atheist(s).
All things truly wicked start from innocence.
Develop a built-in bullshit detector.
Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.
I've seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought. You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.
-from A Moveable Feast
Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual.
-from Banal Story
You can write any time people will leave you alone and not interrupt you. Or rather you can if you will be ruthless enough about it. But the best writing is certainly when you are in love.
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best. Since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.
Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.
-from Che Ti Dice La Patria
The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.
Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.
A writer's problem does not change. It is always how to write truly and having found out what is true to project it in such a way that it becomes part of the experience of the person who reads it.
A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. Knowing what a metaphor is, and realizing that I just used one, helps.
I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.
If two people love each other there can be no happy ending to it.
Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.
The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.
Good whiskey was very pleasant. It was one of the pleasant parts of life.
An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.
The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.
The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.
Trying to become a more casual traveler, your correspondent finally ends up by shooting himself through both legs with one hand while gaffing a shark with the other. This is as far as he will go in pleasing a reader.
-Esquire Magazine, 1935
There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man.
True nobility is being superior to your former self.
Goodnight, my kitten. (Last Words)
Before you act, listen.
Before you react, think.
Before you spend, earn.
Before you criticize, wait.
Before you pray, forgive.
Before you quit, try.
I drink to make other people more interesting.
The man who has begun to live more seriously within begins to live more simply without.
There is no friend as loyal as a book.
Cowardice...is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the functioning of the imagination.
Never confuse movement with action.
Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl.
But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.
When I have an idea, I turn down the flame, as if it were a little alcohol stove, as low as it will go. Then it explodes and that is my idea.
As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.
All our words from loose using have lost their edge.
(On Problem Solving)
The shortest answer is doing the thing.
Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.
My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.
I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.
When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
I didn't want to kiss you goodbye, that was the trouble. I wanted to kiss you goodnight. And there's a lot of difference.
For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.
Who wants a shot?
Write drunk; edit sober.
If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing.
—from Death in the Afternoon
It was as natural to me as necessary, and I would not have thought of eating a meal without drinking wine, brandy or beer.
“One of the best things about being a writer is when you’re having the wildest time, when you’re completely on the bum, you’re still working, or you at least you should be.”
-to Ezra Pound
“Make all that come true again, the one year every one drank too much and no one was nasty. There really was such a year.”