James Thurber


It is better to have loafed and lost, than never to have loafed at all.

"The Courtship of Arthur and Al," Fables for our Time (1940)

It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers.

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.

You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.

"The Owl Who Was God," Fables for Our Time (1940)

But what is all this fear of and opposition to Oblivion? What is the matter with the soft Darkness, the Dreamless Sleep?

Laughter need not be cut out of anything, since it improves everything.

Selected Letters of James Thurber

There is something about a poet which leads us to believe that he died, in many cases, as long as 20 years before his birth.

Selected Letters of James Thurber

From now on, I think it is safe to predict, neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party will ever nominate for President a candidate without good looks, stage presence, theatrical delivery, and a sense of timing.

James Thurber Collecting Himself (1989), from an unpublished 1961 manuscript referring to the Kennedy-Nixon TV debates

One great advantage which poetry has over prose—one sense in which, we might even say, it is considerably more beautiful—is that it fills up space approximately three times as rapidly.

"The Book-End," Collecting Himself: James Thurber on Writing and Writers, Humor and Himself (1989).