Literary Wits of the 20th Century


H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Quotes by H.L. Mencken:

  1. “In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.”
  2. “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”
  3. “A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.”
Robert Benchley: “Why don’t you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini?”

“A great many people have come up to me and asked me how I manage to get so much work done and still keep looking so dissipated. My answer is, “Don’t you wish you knew?” and a pretty good answer it is too, when you consider that nine times out of ten I didn’t hear the original question.”  Robert Benchley

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) and Robinson–Of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Parker said: “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

Other Parker Quotes:

  1. Ducking for apples — change one letter and it’s the story of my life.
  2. I’m never going to accomplish anything; that’s perfectly clear to me. I’m never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don’t do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don’t even do that any more.
  3. I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound — if I can remember any of the damn things.   dparker

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936): “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

S.J. Perelman (1904-1979)  (He wrote much of Groucho Marx’s early dialogue)

“Fate was dealing from the bottom of the deck.” [The Rising Gorge (1961) p. 183]

 A patient confronts his doctor, in a cartoon printed in Judge magazine (November 16, 1929):

“Great-grandfather died under strange circumstances. He opened a vein in his bath.”
“I never knew baths had veins,” protested Gabrilowitsch.”
“I never knew his great-grandfather had a ba—” began Falcovsky derisively.”

“Oh, son, I wish you hadn’t become a scenario writer!” she sniffled.
“Aw, now, Moms,” I comforted her, “it’s no worse than playing the piano in a call house.” [“Strictly from Hunger”, The Most of S. J. Perelman (1992) p. 45]

If you liked this post, you might like to read my post entitled:  The Dorothy Parker Society (DPS) Newsletter for November 2012.

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