Cyril Connolly Quotes

Most popular Cyril Connolly Quotes

Vulgarity is the garlic in the salad of charm.

charm garlic

Greed, like the love of comfort, is a kind of fear.


Whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising.
— Cyril Connolly


We are all serving a life-sentence in the dungeon of self.

the self

The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication.
— Cyril Connolly


There is no fury like an ex-wife searching for a new lover.
— Cyril Connolly


We hate what we fear, and so where hate is, fear is lurking.
— Cyril Connolly

hate fear

The one way to get thin is to re-establish a purpose in life.

dieting purpose of life

A woman's desire for revenge outlasts all her other emotions.
— Cyril Connolly


The worst vice of the solitary [man] is the worship of his food.


Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice.
— Cyril Connolly

literature writing

There is no more somber enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.


It is only in the country that we can get to know a person or a book.

rural country

Obesity is a mental state, a disease brought on by boredom and disappointment.


The dread of loneliness is greater than the fear of bondage, so we get married.

solitude marriage loneliness

Optimism and self-pity are the positive and negative poles of modern cowardice.

cowardice self-pity

Life is a maze in which we take the wrong turning before we have learnt to walk.


The American language is in a state of flux based upon survival of the unfittest.
— Cyril Connolly


The American language is in a state of flux based on the survival of the unfittest.
— Cyril Connolly


In the sex-war thoughtlessness is the weapon of the male, vindictiveness of the female.

men and women

In the sex war, thoughtlessness is the weapon of the male, vindictiveness of the female.
— Cyril Connolly

men and women

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
— Cyril Connolly
When even despair ceases to serve any creative purpose, then surely we are justified in suicide.


Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you.
— Cyril Connolly


An author arrives at a good style when his language performs what is required of it without shyness.

authors style

When young, we are faithful to individuals; when older, we grow more loyal to situations and to types.
— Cyril Connolly
Boys do not grow up gradually.  They move forward in spurts like the hands of clocks in railway stations.


All charming people have something to conceal, usually their total dependence on the appreciation of others.

charm appreciation

Our memories are card-indexes consulted and then put back in disorder by authorities whom we do not control.
— Cyril Connolly


Our memories are card indexes—consulted, and then put back in disorder, by authorities whom we do not control.
— Cyril Connolly


Our memories are card-indexes, consulted, and then put back in disorder by authorities whom we do not control.


We must select the illusion which appeals to our temperament and embrace it with passion, if we want to be happy.

happiness illusion

We must select the illusion which appeals to our temperament, and embrace it with passion, if we want to be happy.
— Cyril Connolly


If one is too lazy to think, too vain to do a thing badly, too cowardly to admit it, one will never attain wisdom.
— Cyril Connolly


As repressed sadists are supposed to become policemen or butchers so those with irrational fear of life become publishers.


Today the function of the artist is to bring imagination to science and science to imagination, where they meet, in the myth.

art science science & art

The true work of art is the one which the seventh wave of genius throws up the beach where the under-tow cannot drag it back.


Hate is the consequence of fear; we fear something before we hate it; a child who fears noises becomes a man who hates noise.

hate fear

The friendships which last are those wherein each friend respects the other's dignity to the point of not really wanting anything from him.
— Cyril Connolly


No-one over thirty-five is worth meeting who has not something to teach us - something more than we could learn from ourselves, from a book.
— Cyril Connolly
It is the fear of middle-age in the young, of old-age in the middle-aged, which is the prime cause of infidelity, that infallible rejuvenator.


Booksellers, who are a race apart and one and all delightful company, as befits those in whom the ideal and the practical are so nicely blended.


Truth is a river that is always splitting up into arms that reunite.  Islanded between the arms the inhabitants argue for a lifetime as to which is the main river.


A great writer creates a world of his own and his readers are proud to live in it. A lesser writer may entice them in for a moment, but soon he will watch them filing out.


Sloth in writers is always a symptom of acute inner conflict. Perfectionists are notoriously lazy, and all truly artistic indolence is deeply neurotic: a pain not a pleasure.
— Cyril Connolly

writers perfection

A mistake which is commonly made about neurotics is to suppose that they are interesting.  It is not interesting to be always unhappy, engrossed with oneself, malignant and ungrateful, and never quite in touch with reality.


The particular charm of marriage, which may grow irresistible to those who once have tasted it, is the duologue, the permanent conversation between two people who talk over everything and everyone till death breaks the record.


It is all explained that all relationships require a little give and take.  This is untrue.  Any partnership demands that we give and give and give and at the last, as we flop into our graves exhausted, we are told that we didn't give enough.


Every good reviewer has a subject.  He specializes in that subject on which he has not been able to write a book, and his aim is to see that no one else does.  He stands behind the ticket-queue of fame, banging his rivals on the head as they bend low before the guichet.

critics reviews

The artist of to-day...walks at first with his companions, till one day he falls through a hole in the brambles, and from that moment is following the dark rapids of an underground river which may sometimes flow so near the surface that the laughing picnic parties are heard above.