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Cyril Connolly quotes Showing 1-30 of 59

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."

[The New Statesman, February 25, 1933]”
Cyril Connolly
“While thoughts exist, words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“There is no pain equal to that which two lovers can inflict on one another... It is when we begin to hurt those whom we love that the guilt with which we are born becomes intolerable, and since all those whom we love intensely and continuously grow part of us, and since we hate ourselves in them, so we torture ourselves and them together.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“...art is made by the alone for the alone… The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication...”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first call promising.”
Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise
“Beneath this mask of selfish tranquility nothing exists except bitterness and boredom. I am one of those whom suffering has made empty and frivilous: each night in my dreams I pull the scab off a wound; each day, vacuous and habit ridden, I let it reform.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice.”
Cyril Connolly
“There are many who dare not kill themselves for fear of what the neighbours will say.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“We must select the illusion which appeals to our temperament, and embrace it with passion.”
Cyril Connolly
“When even despair ceases to serve any creative purpose, then surely we are justified in suicide. For what better grounds for suicide can there be than to go on making the same series of false moves which invariably lead to the same disaster and to repeat a pattern without knowing why it is false or wherein lies the flaw? And yet to percieve that in ourselves revolves a cycle of activity which is certain to end in paralysis of the will, desertion, panic and despair - always to go on loving those who have ceased to love us, and who have quite lost all resemblance to the selves who we loved! Suicide is infectious; what if the agonies which suicide endure before they are driven to take their own life, the emotion of 'all is lost' - are infectious too?”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“Our memories are card-indexes consulted and then put back in disorder by authorities whom we do not control.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“When I write after dark the shades of evening scatter their purple through my prose.”
Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise
“There are only three things which make life worth living: to be writing a tolerably good book, to be in a dinner party of six, and to be traveling south with someone whom your conscience permits you to love.”
Cyril Connolly
“Youth is a period of missed opportunities.”
Cyril Connolly
tags: youth
“No opinions, no ideas, no real knowledge of anything, no ideals, no inspiration; a fat, slothful, querulous, greedy, impotent carcass; a stump, a decaying belly washed up on the shore... Always tired, always bored, always hurt, always hating.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“No education is worth having that does not teach the lesson of concentration on a task, however unattractive. These lessons, if not learnt early, will be learnt, if at all, with pain and grief in later life.”
Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise
“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.”
Cyril Connolly
“...there is a way of leaving and yet of not leaving; of hinting that one loves and is willing to return, yet never coming back and so preserving a relationship in a lingering decay.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“A mutually fulfilled sexual union between two people is the rarest sensation which life can provide. But it is not quite real. It stops when the telephone rings. Such a passion can be kept at its early strength only by adding to it either more and more unhappiness (jealousy, separation, doubt, renunciation), or more and more artificiality (drink, technique, stage-illusions). Whoever has missed this has never lived, who lives for it alone is but partly alive.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“If our elaborate and dominating bodies are given to us to be denied at every turn, if our nature is always wrong and wicked, how ineffectual we are—like fishes not meant to swim.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you.”
Cyril Connolly
“Is it possible to love any human being without being torn limb from limb?”
Cyril Connolly
“A child, left to play alone, says of quite an easy thing, 'Now I am going to to do something very difficult'. Soon, out of vanity, fear and emptiness, he builds up a world of custom, convention and myth in which everything must be just so; certain doors are one-way streets, certain trees sacred, certain paths taboo. Then along comes a grown-up or a more robust child; they kick over the imaginary wall, climb the forbidden tree, regard the difficult as easy and the private world is destroyed. The instinct to create myth, to colonize reality with the emotions, remains. The myths become tyrannies until they are swept away, when we invent new tyrannies to hide our suddenly perceived nakedness. Like caddis-worms or like those crabs which dress themselves with seaweed, we wear belief and custom.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“Streets of Paris, pray for me; beaches in the sun, pray for me; ghosts of the lemurs, intercede for me; plane-tree and laurel-rose, shade me; summer rain on quays of Toulon, wash me away.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“A stone lies in a river; a piece of wood is jammed against it; dead leaves, drifting logs, and branches caked with mud collect; weeds settle there, and soon birds have made a nest and are feeding their young among the blossoming water plants. Then the river rises and the earth is washed away. The birds depart, the flowers wither, the branches are dislodged and drift downward; no trace is left of the floating island but a stone submerged by the water; — such is our personality.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“A rune for the very bored: when very bored say to yourself: "It was during the next twenty minutes that there occurred one of those tiny incidents which revolutionizes the whole course of our life and alter the face of history. Truly we are the playthings of enormous fates.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“As repressed sadists are supposed to become policemen or butchers, so those with an irrational fear of life become publishers.”
Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise
“It is significant comment on the victory of science over magic that were someone to say ‘if I put this pill in your beer it will explode,’ we might believe them; but were they to cry ‘if I pronounce this spell over your beer it will go flat,’ we should remain incredulous and Paracelsus, the Alchemists, Aleister Crowley and all the Magi have lived in vain. Yet when I read science I turn magical; when I study magic, scientific.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus
“Early laurels weigh like lead and of many of the boys whom I knew at Eton, I can say that their lives are over .... Once again romanticism with its death wish is to blame, for it lays an emphasis on childhood, on a fall from grace which is not compensated for by any doctrine of future redemption.”
Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise
“A love affair is a grafting operation. "What has once been joined never forgets". There is a moment when the graft takes; up to then it is possible without difficulty the separation which afterwards comes only through breaking off a great hunk of oneself; the ingrown fibre of hours, days, years.”
Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus

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