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Quotes of the day: Bennett Cerf

Published Sunday, May 25, 2014 @ 9:16 AM EDT
May 25 2014

Bennett Alfred Cerf (May 25, 1898 - August 27, 1971) was an American publisher, one of the founders of American publishing firm Random House. Cerf was also known for his own compilations of jokes and puns, for regular personal appearances lecturing across the United States, and for his television appearances in the panel game show What's My Line? (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


Middle age is when your old classmates are so gray and wrinkled and bald they don't recognize you.

Politicians are like ships: noisiest when lost in a fog.

There have been too many books in which some young man is looking forward, backward or sideways in anger. Or in which some Southern youth is being chased through the magnolia bushes by his aunt. She catches him on page 28 with horrid results.

The Atomic Age is here to stay- but are we?

Gross ignorance is 144 times worse than ordinary ignorance.

A pat on the back, though only a few vertebrae removed from a kick in the pants, is miles ahead in results

Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was killed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman's name out of a satire, then wrote the piece so that she could still be recognized anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to be a writer? And if so, why?

In a notable family called Stein
There were Gertrude, and Ep, and then Ein.
Gert's writing was hazy,
Ep's statues were crazy,
And nobody understood Ein.

There is a mass of people, we might as well admit, who if they weren't watching television, would be doing absolutely nothing else.

We just said we were going to publish a few books on the side at random. (on naming his publishing company Random House)

Reading is a pleasure of the mind, which means that it is a little like a sport: your eagerness and knowledge and quickness count for something. The fun of reading is not that something is told to you, but that you stretch your mind. Your own imagination works along with the author's, or even goes beyond his, yields the same or different conclusions, and your ideas develop as you understand his

Good manners: The noise you don't make when you're eating soup.

I think television people have a definite responsibility just like book publishers.

TV's sameness has destroyed many things, such as the American urge toward independent thought.

It's my theory that we're all hams a little bit under the surface.

I think the right to read is one of our inherent rights, and I think that people in America today are intelligent enough to decide for themselves what they want to read.


(Today is also the birthday of Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Categories: Bennett Cerf, Quotes of the day


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