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Quotes of the day: Kenneth Tynan

Published Friday, July 25, 2014 @ 11:14 PM EDT
Jul 25 2014

Kenneth Peacock Tynan (April 2, 1927 - July 26, 1980) was an English theatre critic and writer. Making his initial impact as a critic at The Observer (1954–58, 1960–63), he praised Osborne's Look Back in Anger (1956), and encouraged the emerging wave of British theatrical talent. In 1963, Tynan was appointed as the new National Theatre Company's literary manager. Later in his life, he settled in California where he resumed his writing career. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)

Kenneth Tynan: the deathbed interview.
(From The Guardian, September 21, 2001.


A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.

A good many inconveniences attend playgoing in any large city, but the greatest of them is usually the play itself.

A neurosis is a secret that you don't know you are keeping.

A villain who shares one's guilt is inevitably more attractive than a hero convinced of one's innocence.

All writing is an antisocial act, since the writer is a man who can speak freely only when alone; to be himself he must lock himself up, to communicate he must cut himself off from all communication; and in this there is something always a little mad.

Any country that has sexual censorship will eventually have political censorship.

Everyone is vulnerable who is at once gifted and gregarious.

How far should one accept the rules of the society in which one lives? To put it another way: at what point does conformity become corruption? Only by answering such questions does the conscience truly define itself.

I hope I never need to believe in God. It would be an awful confession of failure.

The buttocks are the most aesthetically pleasing part of the body because they are non-functional. Although they conceal an essential orifice, these pointless globes are as near as the human form can ever come to abstract art.

The man who reacts to the universe with a cry of impotent anguish is acceptable as an artist only if he can persuade us that he has sanely considered the other possible reactions and found them inadequate.

Until everyone is fed, clothed, housed and taught, until human beings have equal leisure to contemplate the overwhelming fact of mortality, we should not... indulge in the luxury of 'privileged despair.'

We carry with us both the life that we have chosen and all the other lives we might have led.

We shall be judged by what we do, not by how we felt while we were doing it.

What, when drunk, one sees in other women, one sees in (Greta) Garbo sober.

When a society has doubts about its future, it tends to produce spokesmen whose main appeal is to the emotions, who argue from intuitions, and whose claim to be truth-bearers rests solely on intense personal feeling.

When you've seen all of Ionesco's plays, I felt at the end, you've seen one of them.


(Today is also the birthday of Carl Jung and Stanley Kubrick.)

Categories: Kenneth Tynan, Quotes of the day


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