Nathanael West quotes:

  • Prayers for the condemned man will be offered on an adding machine. Numbers constitute the only universal language.

  • Numbers constitute the only universal language.

  • Art Is One if Life's Richest Offerings. For those who have not the talent to create, there is appreciation.

  • It was very sad under the trees. Although spring was well advanced, in the deep shade there was nothing but death-rotten leaves, gray and white fungi, and over everything a funeral hush.

  • At college, and perhaps for a year afterwards, they had believed in literature, had believed in Beauty and in personal expression as an absolute end. When they lost this belief, they lost everything.

  • Betty took him for a walk in the zoo and he was amused by her evident belief in the curative power of animals. She seemed to think that it must steady him to look at a buffalo.

  • Crowds of people moved through the streets with a dream-like violence.

  • He read it for the same reason an animal tears at a wounded foot: to hurt the pain.

  • He thought of how calm he was. His calm was so perfect that he could not destroy it even by being conscious of it.

  • Only those who still have hope can benefit from tears. When they finish, they feel better. But to those without hope, whose anguish is basic and permanent, no good comes from crying. Nothing changes for them. They usually know this, but still can't help crying.

  • Only those who still have hope can benefit from tears.

  • It is hard to laugh at the need for beauty and romance, no matter how tasteless, even horrible, the results of that need are. But it is easy to sigh. Few things are sadder than the truly monstrous.

  • ...all these things were part of the business of dreams. He had learned not to laugh at the advertisements offering to teach writing, cartooning, engineering, to add inches to the biceps and to develop the bust

  • Her sureness was based on the power to limit experience arbitrarily.

  • ...better a live bird in the jungle of the body than two stuffed birds on the library table.

  • Art Is a Way Out. Do not let life overwhelm you. When the old paths are choked with the débris of failure, look for newer and fresher paths. Art is just such a path. Art is distilled from suffering.

  • But whether he was happy or not was hard to say. Probably he was neither, just as a plant is neither.

  • Every child, everywhere; in the whole world there was not one child who was not gravely, sweetly dancing.

  • Feeling is of the heart and nerves and the crudeness of its expression has nothing to do with its intensity.

  • He felt as though his heart were a bomb, a complicated bomb that would result in a simple explosion, wrecking the world without rocking it.

  • He smoked a cigarette, standing in the dark and listening to her undress. She made sea sounds; something flapped like a sail; there was the creak of ropes; then he heard the wave-against-a-wharf smack of rubber on flesh. Her call for him to hurry was a sea-moan, and when he lay beside her, she heaved, tidal, moon-driven.

  • It's solitary drinking that makes drunkards.

  • Let him ride a horse. He's a cowboy ain't he?

  • Like a dead man, only friction could make him warm or violence make him mobile.

  • Man spends a great deal of time making order out of chaos, yet insists that the emotions be disordered. I order my emotions: I am insane.

  • No dream ever entirely disappears. Somewhere it troubles some unfortunate person and some day, when that person has been sufficiently troubled, it will be reproduced on the lot.

  • You once said to me that I talk like a man in a book. I not only talk, but think and feel like one. I have spent my life in books; literature has deeply dyed my brain its own colour. This literary colouring is a protective one--like the brown of the rabbit or the checks of the quail--making it impossible for me to tell where literature ends and I begin.