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Quotes of the day: Dashiell Hammett

Published Tuesday, May 26, 2015 @ 7:58 PM EDT
May 26 2015

Samuel Dashiell Hammett (May 27, 1894 – January 10, 1961) was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, a screenplay writer, and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse). (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A lot of fancier yarns come from people trying to tell the truth. It's not easy once you're out of the habit.

All successful bunko men come in time to believe the world, except for themselves, is populated with a race of human sheep who may be trusted to conduct themselves with true sheeplike docility.

But where knowledge of trickery is evenly distributed, honesty not infrequently prevails.

Did it ever occur to you that everybody is more or less afraid of nearly everything, and that courage isn't a damn thing but a habit of not dodging things because you're afraid of them?

Emotions are useless during business hours.

Feed the lettuce to the bunny and eat the bunny.

I don't like eloquence. If it isn't effective enough to pierce your hide, it's tiresome, and if it is effective enough, it muddles your thoughts.

I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble.

I have not killed anyone. They will not let me.

I haven't any sort of plans for the future but I reckon things will work out in some manner.

I once knew a man who stole a Ferris Wheel...

If a man says a thing often enough, he is very likely to acquire some sort of faith in it sooner or later.

If you have a story that seems worth telling, and you think you can tell it worthily, then the thing for you to do is to tell it, regardless of whether it has to do with sex, sailors or mounted policemen.

It is the beginning of the end when you discover you have style.

It's awfully easy to be in love in jail.

It's sometimes better to pretend I don't hear the sound of somebody in the nearby woods with a shotgun.

My way of learning is to heave a wild and unpredictable monkey-wrench into the machinery.

People always say things like, Oh, well, he was suffering so much that he was better off dying. But that's not true. You're always better off living.

She keeps trying and you've got to be careful or you'll find yourself believing her, not because she seems to be telling the truth, but simply because you're tired of disbelieving her.

Strictly speaking, there are no real substitutes for sexual satisfaction.

The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.

The people who lie the most are nearly always the clumsiest at it, and they're easier to fool with lies than most people, too. You'd think they'd be on the look-out for lies, but they seem to be the very ones that will believe almost anything at all.

The problem with putting two and two together is that sometimes you get four, and sometimes you get twenty-two.

What disturbed him was the discovery that in sensibly ordering his affairs he had got out of step, and not into step, with Life.

You got to look on the bright side, even if there ain't one.


(May 27 is also the birthday of Isadora Duncan and Rachel Carson.)

Categories: Dashiell Hammett, Quotes of the day


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