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George Bernard Shaw

1856-1950 ,  Irish writer, Nobel 1925
George Bernard ShawIrish playwright, critic, and polemicist whose influence on Western theater, culture, and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays, including major works such as Pygmalion (1913) and Saint Joan (1923). With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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All great truths begin as blasphemies.

A happy family is but an earlier heaven.

A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic.

A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry.

A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

A healthy nation is as unconscious of its nationality as a healthy man of his bones. But if you break a nation's nationality it will think of nothing else but getting it set again.

A learned man is an idler who kills time by study.

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell.

Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.

All progress means war with Society.

An Englishman thinks he is moral when he is only uncomfortable.

Animals are my friends... and I don't eat my friends.

Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.

Beware of the man whose god is in the skies.

Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.

Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever, when they are only wasting their time.

Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.

Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.

Disobedience, the rarest and most courageous of the virtues, is seldom distinguished from neglect, the laziest and commonest of the vices.

Do not do unto others as you would expect they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.

Every fool believes what his teachers tell him, and calls his credulity science or morality as confidently as his father called it divine revelation.

Every man over forty is a scoundrel.

Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough.

Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.

Find enough clever things to say, and you're a Prime Minister; write them down and you're a Shakespeare.

First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity.

Give a man health and a course to steer, and he'll never stop to trouble about whether he's happy or not.

God is on the side of the big battalions.

Happy is the man who can make a living by his hobby.

He is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.

He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.

He who desires a lifetime of happiness with a beautiful woman desires to enjoy the taste of wine by keeping his mouth always full of it.

I am afraid we must make the world honest before we can honestly tell our children that honesty is the best policy.

I do not know what I think until I write it.

I have defined the hundred per cent American as ninety-nine per cent an idiot.

I never resist temptation, because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me.

If there was nothing wrong in the world, there wouldn't be anything for us to do.

If you begin by sacrificing yourself to those you love, you will end by hating those to whom you have sacrificed yourself.

If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant for a moment, other people's opinions will rush in from all quarters.

If you're going to tell people the truth, you better make them laugh; otherwise they'll kill you.

Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery; it's the sincerest form of learning.

In an ugly and unhappy world, the richest man can purchase nothing but ugliness and unhappiness.

In heaven, an angel is no one in particular.

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.

Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful.

Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

Love is an appetite which, like all other appetites, is destroyed for the moment by its gratification.

Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.

Man can climb to the highest summits, but he cannot dwell there long.

My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably.

My method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity.

My specialty is being right when other people are wrong.

My way of joking is to tell the truth. It's the funniest joke in the world.

No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means.

Nothing is more dreadful than a husband who keeps telling you everything he thinks, and always wants to know what you think.

Only in books has mankind known perfect truth, love and beauty.

Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it

Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to the country and to mankind is to bring up a family.

Plato long ago pointed out the importance of being governed by men with sufficient sense of responsibility and comprehension of public duties to be very reluctant to undertake the work of governing.

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman. Believing what he read made him mad.

Reason enslaves all whose minds are not strong enough to master her.

Scratch an Englishman and find a Protestant.

Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.

Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.

The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.

The great advantage of a hotel is that it's a refuge from home life.

The liar's punishment is, not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.

The minority is sometimes right; the majority always wrong.

The more I see of the moneyed classes, the more I understand the guillotine

The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.

The only time my education was interrupted was when I was in school.

The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not.

The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.

The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.

The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.

The quality of a play is the quality of its ideas.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

The reformer for whom the world is not good enough finds himself shoulder to shoulder with him that is not good enough for the world.

The roulette table pays nobody except him that keeps it. Nevertheless a passion for gaming is common, though a passion for keeping roulette tables is unknown.

The secret of forgiving everything is to understand nothing.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

The test of a man or woman's breeding is how they behave in a quarrel.

The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.

The whole strength of England lies in the fact that the enormous majority of the English people are snobs.

The word morality, if we met it in the Bible, would surprise us as much as the word telephone or motor car.

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.

There are no secrets better kept than the secrets everybody guesses.

There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it.

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.

There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.

Those who understand evil pardon it.

Vulgarity is a necessary part of a complete author's equipment; and the clown is sometimes the best part of the circus.

We don't bother much about dress and manners in England, because as a nation we don't dress well and we've no manners.

We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.

We have no reason to suppose that we are the Creator's last word.

We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience.

What really flatters a man is that you think him worth flattering.

When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.

When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport: when the tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity. The distinction between Crime and Justice is no greater.

When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.

When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth.

Why should we take advice on sex from the pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn't!

You cannot be a hero without being a coward.

You have learned something. That always feels at first as if you had lost something.

You see things; you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say “Why not?”

Youth is wasted on the young.

Youth, which is forgiven everything, forgives itself nothing: age, which forgives itself everything, is forgiven nothing.

Greatness is one of the sensations of littleness.


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