Edmund Wilson quotes:

  • His style has the desperate jauntiness of an orchestra fiddling away for dear life on a sinking ship.

  • There is nothing more demoralizing than a small but adequate income.

  • The cruelest thing that has happened to Lincoln since he was shot by Booth was to fall into the hands of Carl Sandburg.

  • The product of the scientific imagination is a new vision of relations - like that of artistic imagination.

  • If I could only remember that the days were, not bricks to be laid row on row, to be built into a solid house, where one might dwell in safety and peace, but only food for the fires of the heart.

  • Marxism is the opium of the intellectuals.

  • From the moment a New Yorker is confronted with almost any large city of Europe, it is impossible for him to pretend to himself that his own city is anything other than an unscrupulous real-estate speculation

  • One didn't really believe till one saw it demonstrated that giving oneself up completely to art, to emotion, to enjoyment, without planning for the future or counting the cost, produced dreadful disabilities and bankruptcies later.

  • Real genius of moral insight is a motor which will start any engine.

  • Capitalism has run its course, and we shall have to look for other ideals than the ones that capitalism has encouraged.

  • If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

  • The human imagination has already come to conceive the possibility of recreating human society.

  • If I could only remember that the days were not bricks to be laid row on row, to be built into a solid house, where one might dwell in safety and peace, but only food for the fires of the heart.

  • No two persons ever read the same book.

  • Every work of art is a trick by which the artist manipulates appearances.

  • I really can't stand any more to pay for a burst of animation when someone comes in for drinks with a depressed and low-keyed next day, in which I have to go around on my hands and knees.

  • Education, the last hope of the liberal in all periods.

  • They [the English] have a special word, "civil," for what is elsewhere merely ordinary politeness.

  • All Hollywood corrupts; and absolute Hollywood corrupts absolutely.

  • Only the curious will learn and only the resolute will overcome the obstacles to learning. The quest quotient has always excited me more than the intelligence quotient.

  • In a sense, one can never read the book that the author originally wrote, and one can never read the same book twice.

  • The most immoral and disgraceful and dangerous thing that anybody can do in the arts is knowingly to feed back to the public its own ignorance and cheap tastes.

  • A young poet in America should not be advised at the outset to give up all for the Muse-to seclude himself in the country, to live hand from mouth in Greenwich Village or to escape to the Riviera. I should not advise him even to become a magazine editor or work in a publisher's office. The poet would do better to study a profession, to become a banker or a public official or even to go in for the movies.

  • The great mistake about Europe is taking the countries seriously and letting them quarrel and drop bombs on one another.

  • I have learned to read the papers calmly and not to hate the fools I read about.

  • I think with my right hand.

  • On the one hand, I have wanted to supply documentation on myself by including material relevant to my emotions and ideas in my youth; and, on the other, not to let myself down by publishing inferior material. My poetry comes under the latter head. My only advice to the reader is to skip any verse that he sees coming.

  • Keep going; never stop; sit tight; Read something luminous at night.

  • I am not quite a poet but I am something of the kind.

  • It is certainly very hard to write about sex in English without making it unattractive.

  • I find more and more that I am a man of the 1920s. I still expect something exciting. Drinks, animated conversation, gaiety: the uninhibited exchange of ideas.

  • In times of disorder and stress, the fanatics play a prominent role; in times of peace, the critics. Both are shot after the revolution.

  • At 60 the sexual preoccupation, when it hits you, seems sometimes sharper, as if it were an elderly malady, like gout.

  • Old-fogyism is comfortably closing in.

  • The Jew lends himself easily to Communism because it enables him to devote himself to a high cause, involving all of humanity, characteristics which are natural to him as a Jew.