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Published Saturday, August 31, 2013 @ 2:15 PM EDT
Aug 31 2013

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Quotes of the day: William Saroyan

Published Saturday, August 31, 2013 @ 6:56 AM EDT
Aug 31 2013

Oscar winner and Pulitzer Prize recipient William Saroyan (August 31, 1908 - May 18, 1981) who gained world fame with his classic book "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze" (1934), was born in California to Armenak and Takoohi Saroyan, survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide perpetrated by Turks in the Ottoman Empire.

With his unmistakably American literary works, deeply rooted in his Armenian heritage, William Saroyan soon established himself as one of the preeminent short story writers, playwrights and novelists in the United States.

In 1939 and 1940 William Saroyan's "My Heart's in the Highlands" and "The Time of Your Life" were staged for theater and "Love's Old Sweet Song" opened on Broadway, winning the New York Critics Circle Award.

In 1943 his MGM screenplay "The Human Comedy" was novelized and published and received great reviews, and he won the Academy Award for Best Writing Original Story for "The Human Comedy".

He wrote the lyrics to his cousin Ross Bagdasarian's famous hit song "Come On-a My House", performed by Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, and Rosemary Clooney, which was featured in Madonna's "Swept Away" (2002) and Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru (1952). (Bagdasarian is better known as "David Seville," of "Alvin and the Chipmunks" fame.) (The above bio is from the Internet Movie Database. Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A man's ethnic identity has more to do with a personal awareness than with geography.

All great art has madness, and quite a lot of bad art has it, too.

Be, beget, begone.

Each book can make a life or a fragment of it more beautiful.

Every man alive in the world is a beggar of one sort or another, every last one of them, great and small.

Every man in the world is better than someone else and not as good someone else.

Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?

Everything alive is part of each of us, and many things which do not move as we move are part of us. The sun is part of us, the earth, the sky, the stars, the rivers, and the oceans. All things are part of us, and we have come here to enjoy them and to thank God for them.

Good people are good because they've come to wisdom through failure. We get very little wisdom from success, you know.

I am enormously wise and abysmally ignorant.

I believe that time, with its infinite understanding, will one day forgive me.

I care so much about everything that I care about nothing.

I did my best, and let me urge you to do your best, too. Isn't it the least we can do for one another?

I do not know what makes a writer, but it probably isn't happiness.

I don't like to see kids throw away their truth just because it isn't worth a dime in the open market.

I have made a fiasco of my life, but I have had the right material to work with.

I sometimes think that rich men belong to another nationality entirely, no matter what their actual nationality happens to be. The nationality of the rich.

In the end, today is forever, yesterday is still today, and tomorrow is already today.

It is impossible not to notice that our world is tormented by failure, hate, guilt, and fear.

Nothing good ever ends.

Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man's guilt is not yours, nor is any man's innocence a thing apart.

Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding-place and let it be free and unashamed.

Sunday is the day people go quietly mad, one way or another.

The end of life evokes the errors of it, and a fellow wishes he had known better.

The purpose of my life is to put off dying as long as possible.

The role of art is to make a world which can be inhabited.

The whole world and every human being in it is everybody's business.

There is no such thing as a soldier. I see death as a private event, the destruction of the universe in the brain and in the senses of one man, and I cannot see any man's death as a contributing factor in the success or failure of a military campaign.

What art needs is greater men, and what politics needs is better men.

You must remember always to give, of everything you have. You must give foolishly even. You must be extravagant. You must give to all who come into your life. Then nothing and no one shall have power to cheat you of anything, for if you give to a thief, he cannot steal from you, and he himself is then no longer a thief. And the more you give, the more you will have to give.

You write a hit play the same way you write a flop.

Categories: Quotes of the day, William Saroyan


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