Quotations About / On:
Probably it is impossible for humor to be ever a revolutionary weapon. Candide can do little more than generate irony.
(Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), U.S. critic. Partisan Review 50th Anniversary Edition, notebook entry 1931-1932, ed. William Philips (1985).)
Dostoevski is not a great writer, but a rather mediocre onewith flashes of excellent humor, but, alas, with wastelands of literary platitudes in between.
(Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet. "Fyodor Dostoevski," Lectures on Russian Literature (1981).
"From the point of view of enduring art and individual genius.")
While it may not heighten our sympathy, wit widens our horizons by its flashes, revealing remote hidden affiliations and drawing laughter from far afield; humor, in contrast, strikes up fellow feeling, and though it does not leap so much across time and space, enriches our insight into the universal in familiar things, lending it a local habitation and a name.
(Marie Collins Swabey. Comic Laughter, ch. 5, Yale University Press (1961).)
Men will confess to treason, murder, arson, false teeth, or a wig. How many of them will own up to a lack of humor?
(Frank Moore Colby (1865-1925), U.S. editor, essayist. "Satire and Teeth," vol. 1, The Colby Essays (1926).)
Wit and Humorif any difference, it is in durationlightning and electric light. Same material, apparently; but one is vivid, and can do damagethe other fools along and enjoys elaboration.
(Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835-1910), U.S. author. Mark Twain's Notebooks and Journals, vol. 3, notebook 24, April-Aug. 1885, ed. Frederick Anderson (1979).)
When humor can be made to alternate with melancholy, one has a success, but when the same things are funny and melancholic at the same time, it's just wonderful.
(François Truffaut (1932-1984), French film director. letter, Jan. 15, 1980. Letters (1989, French edition, 1988).)
All my humor is based upon destruction and despair. If the whole world were tranquil, without disease and violence, I'd be standing on the breadline right in back of J. Edgar Hoover.
(Lenny Bruce (1925-1966), U.S. satirical comedian. The Essential Lenny Bruce, "Performing and the Art of Comedy," ed. John Cohen (1967).
The passage also appears as the book's epigraph.)
There is also this benefit in brag, that the speaker is unconsciously expressing his own ideal. Humor him by all means, draw it all out, and hold him to it.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Wealth," English Traits (1856).)
Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humor? No, the world must be peopled.
(William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Benedick, in Much Ado About Nothing, act 2, sc. 3, l. 240-2.
Refusing to be intimidated by mocking words ("sentences" means maxims) from pursuing his inclination, and loving Beatrice.)
Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round.
(Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 94, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988).)