Humorous Quotes from
Shakespeare and Myself
By George Mikes
- If I have to choose between a good and a honest title, I
always choose the good one.
- As a motto, I shall keep to Francis Bacon's advice:
"Praise yourself daringly, something always sticks."
- If humanity destroys itself, it will be regrettable but it
will not be a catastrophe. If humanity destroys itself, it will be a good
lesson for the future and it will not do it again.
- There are not a dozen flowers I know. I do not recognise any
birds, except pigeons, ostriches and polar bears...
- My soul has width and length but entirely lacks depth.
- People call me a humorist in self-defence. If I am not a
humorist, they must all be rather silly. And of course it suits them better
that I should be silly rather than they.
- Writing keeps us (humorists) from more criminal activities. A
new work is our just revenge on the world.
- Whenever I read a leading article in The Times, I understood
everything perfectly well except that I could never make out whether The
Times was for or against something. In those days I put this down to may
lack of knowledge of English.
- The natural instinct of the English is to keep to themselves.
That is why they leave their homes and congregate in clubs. A club is a
place where a few hundred Englishmen can be alone. The best literary, legal
and political brains in the country assemble, sit down and remain silent on
the burning questions of the day.
- The trouble with business-men is that they often insist on
discussing poetry and their souls while I am interested in finance and the
- They (English Writers) think more of clean shirts and polished
shoes than of clear heads and a polished style.
- Compare the person who says: "I am so superstitious and
never start any enterprise on the 13th," and the other person who
laughs at him and says: "I am so completely lacking in all
superstitious feelings that I start all my enterprises only and exclusively
on the 13th."
- Everybody can write; even among professional writers the
percentage of those who can write is as high as 12.37. Everybody can write
but only a few people can read and that makes the job a shade more
- And often we are fooling ourselves. We are cowards posing as
heroes. I, at least, am a coward posing as a coward.
- To professors and even students, "life" is
synonymous with "university," and the rest of the world is only
there to supply some background noises.
- I firmly believe that humanity consists of three main groups:
(1) BBC employees; (2) former BBC employees; (3) future BBC employers.
- Three Italians engaged in a friendly chat can make more
noise than the average English mass-demonstration in Trafalgar Square.
- The British are proud of their ability to create a muddle and
then muddle through all difficulties. I must shake the British pride: muddle
is not an exclusively British institution. Read descriptions, for instance,
of the over-organized, wonderfully systematic and "thorough"
German war machine during the last war.
- The basic difference between British muddle and foreign muddle
is that the British are sensible enough to regard muddle as the natural and
accepted state of things and to consider perfect order as a disquietening
and natural phenomenon bound to end in disaster.
- Let us be outspoken: I am a musical half-wit. Little wonder,
then, that some years ago I was chosen to serve the BBC as a music critic.
- Detective novels are dangerous. They have never taught anybody
to murder well; but they have taught many to write badly.
- I think it is silly to speak of the "narrative
power," "characterisation" and "style" of detective
story writers, as they cannot have any.
- Sir Winston - for me, at least - is first and foremost a
writer and a spare-time statesman. Many writers have peculiar hobbies. One
collects old waistcoats; another is passionately devoted to whist; Sir
Winston Churchill spends his spare time in making world history.
- Could we not arrange for something to be put on the roof
showing that the occupier of the house is reading a book? If we could
advertise the reader and his cultural activities instead of the author and
his book, I am sure we could create a new and undreamed-of boom in the
- I am at my wits end, but I just do not know how to get rid of
all that money. After all, you cannot buy more than two dozen mink coats for
your wife; after all, it looks like showing off if you keep driving about
the town in six Rolls Royces at once. (Driving one and having five on tow, I
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