Top 100

Top 250 Philip Roth Quotes (2023 Update)
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Philip Roth Quote: “The secret to living in the rush of the world with a minimum of pain is to get as many people as possible to string along with your delusions...”
Philip Roth Quote: “Tu pleci, in timp ce altii, nu prea multi, raman pe loc, continuand sa faca ceea ce au facut dintotdeauna, iar cand te intorci, te minunezi ca-i vezi tot acolo si pe moment te simti usurat fiindca exista cineva care-si petrece intreaga viata in acelasi locsor, neavand deloc chef sa plece.”
Philip Roth Quote: “There was always something about our family, and I don’t mean color – there was something about us that impeded you. You think like a prisoner. You do, Coleman Brutus. You’re white as snow and you think like a slave.”
Philip Roth Quote: “It’s human to have a secret, but it’s just as human to reveal it sooner or later.”
Philip Roth Quote: “Let’s hope the first comes first.”
Philip Roth Quote: “It’s amazing how much punishment we can take.”
Philip Roth Quote: “His nose was his most distinctive feature: curved like a scimitar at the top but bent flat at the tip, and with the bone of the bridge cut like a diamond – in short, a nose out of a folktale, the sort of sizable, convoluted, intricately turned nose that, for many centuries, confronted though they have been by every imaginable hardship, the Jews have never stopped making.”
Philip Roth Quote: “There is something fascinating about what moral suffering can do to someone who is in no obvious way a weak or feeble person. It’s more insidious even than what physical illness can do, because there is no morphine drip or spinal block or radical surgery to alleviate it. Once you’re in its grip, it’s as though it will have to kill you for you to be free of it. Its raw realism is like nothing else.”
Philip Roth Quote: “Should you protect profits? Yes. But run for the hills? No.”
Philip Roth Quote: “A Jewish man with his parents alive is half the time a helpless infant!”
Philip Roth Quote: “I cannot and do not live in the world of discretion, not as a writer, anyway. I would prefer to, I assure you – it would make life easier. But discretion is, unfortunately, not for novelists.”
Philip Roth Quote: “For discipline is imposed not just on oneself but on those in one’s orbit.”
Philip Roth Quote: “What I wanted was the tiniest thing in the world: to be like everyone else.”
Philip Roth Quote: “I do not say correct or savory. I do not say seemly or even natural. I say serious. Sensationally serious. Unspeakably serious. Solemnly, recklessly, blissfully serious.”
Philip Roth Quote: “It isn’t that you subordinate your ideas to the force of the facts in autobiography but that you construct a sequence of stories to bind up the facts with a persuasive hypothesis that unravels your history’s meaning.”
Philip Roth Quote: “I don’t wish to be a slave any longer to the stringent exigencies of literature.”
Philip Roth Quote: “What I have in mind when I start to write could fit inside an acorn-an acorn, moreover, that rarely if ever grows into an oak. Write fiction and you relinquish reason. You start with an acorn and you end up with a mackerel.”
Philip Roth Quote: “The music I play after dinner is not a relief from the silence but something like its substantiation: listening to music for an hour or two every evening doesn’t deprive me of the silence – the music is the silence coming true.”
Philip Roth Quote: “You had to be there to see what it looked like. They live in a dream, and we live in a nightmare.”
Philip Roth Quote: “But why did you go,” my mother asked him, “when it was bound to upset you like this?” “I went,” he told her, “because every day I ask myself the same question: How can this be happening in America? How can people like these be in charge of our country? If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I’d think I was having a hallucination.”
Philip Roth Quote: “If anybody asks, ‘Can you do this job? Can you handle it?’ you tell ‘em ‘Absolutely.’ By the time they find out that you can’t, you’ll have already learned, and the job’ll be yours. And who knows, it might just turn out to be the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Philip Roth Quote: “You have to enjoy power, have a certain ruthlessness, to accept the beauty and not mourn the fact that it overshadows everything else. As with any exaggerated trait that sets you apart and makes you exceptional – and enviable, and hateable – to accept your beauty, to accept its effect on others, to play with it, to make the best of it, you’re well advised to develop a sense of humor.”
Philip Roth Quote: “The horror of being caged has lost its thrill.”
Philip Roth Quote: “I’m an Obama supporter. And if you’re an Obama supporter that means you had a hard time during the Bush years.”
Philip Roth Quote: “Each book starts from ashes.”
Philip Roth Quote: “When you publish a book, it’s the world’s book. The world edits it.”
Philip Roth Quote: “The book really comes to life in the rewriting.”
Philip Roth Quote: “The only way to have a funeral is to invite everyone who ever knew the person and just wait for the accident to happen-somebody who comes in out of the blue and says the truth. Everything else is table manners.”
Philip Roth Quote: “Not to be rich, not to be famous, not to be mighty, not even to be happy, but to be civilized – that was the dream of his life.”
Philip Roth Quote: “If only I could have nourished myself upon the depths of his vulgarity, instead of that too becoming a source of shame. Shame and shame and shame and shame – every place I turn something else to be ashamed of.”
Philip Roth Quote: “Just like those who are incurably ill, the aged know everything about their dying except exactly when.”
Philip Roth Quote: “One either imposes one’s ideas or one is imposed on.”
Philip Roth Quote: “I was still too much of a fledgling with people to understand that, in the long run, nobody is a picnic and that I was no picnic myself.”
Philip Roth Quote: “One’s story isn’t a skin to be shed – it’s inescapable, one’s body and blood. You go on pumping it out till you die, the story veined with the themes of your life, the ever-recurring story that’s at once your invention and the invention of you.”
Philip Roth Quote: “Never in my life had I so harshly judged any adult – not my parents, not even Alvin or Uncle Monty – nor had I understood till then how the shameless vanity of utter fools can so strongly determine the fate of others. “Did you meet Mr. von Ribbentrop?” Now almost girlishly bashful, she replied, “I danced with Mr. von Ribbentrop.” “Where?”
Philip Roth Quote: “Many farcical, illogical, incomprehensible transactions are subsumed by the mania of lust.”
Philip Roth Quote: “In school we chanted, along with our teacher, I am the Captain of my fate, I am the Master of my soul, and meanwhile, within my own body, an anarchic insurrection had been launched by one of my privates- which I was helpless to put down!”
Philip Roth Quote: “That’s what I learned from my father and what I loved learning from him: that you do what you have to do.”
Philip Roth Quote: “There’s no remaking reality... Just take it as it comes. Hold your ground and take it as it comes. There’s no other way.”
Philip Roth Quote: “Our homeland was America. Then the Republicans nominated Lindbergh and everything changed.”
Philip Roth Quote: “Three generations. All of them growing. The working. The saving. The success. Three generations in raptures over America. Three generations of becoming one with a people. And now with the fourth it had all come to nothing. The total vandalization of their world.”
Philip Roth Quote: “That people were manifold creatures didn’t come as a surprise to the Swede, even if it was a bit of a shock to realize it anew when someone let you down. What was astonishing to him was how people seemed to run out of their own being, run out of whatever the stuff was that made them who they were and, drained of themselves, turn into the sort of people they would once have felt sorry for.”
Philip Roth Quote: “Fear unmans us. Fear degrades us. Fostering less fear – that’s your job and mine.”
Philip Roth Quote: “We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”
Philip Roth Quote: “I saw that everything you say says either more than you wanted it to say or less than you wanted it to say. What you said and did made a difference, all right, but not the difference you intended.”
Philip Roth Quote: “They were still talking about polio, now by recalling its frightening precursors. His grandmother was remembering when whooping cough victims were required to wear armbands and how, before a vaccine was developed, the most dreaded disease in the city was diphtheria. She remembered getting one of the first smallpox vaccinations. The site of the injection had become seriously infected, and she had a large, uneven circle of scarred flesh on her upper right arm as a result.”
Philip Roth Quote: “Son, anything can happen to anyone,” my father told me, “but it usually doesn’t.”
Philip Roth Quote: “Inhibition doesn’t grow on trees, you know – takes patience, takes concentration, takes a dedicated and self-sacrificing parent and a hard-working attentive little child to create in only a few years’ time a really constrained and tight-ass human being.”
Philip Roth Quote: “The most lethal of manmade explosives can’t touch it. Stand in awe not of Communism, my idiot child, but of ordinary, everyday loneliness. On May Day go out and march with your friends to its greater glory, the superpower of superpowers.”
Philip Roth Quote: “How could he have gone around dopily believing he was making her happy when there was no justification for his feelings, when they were absurd, when, year in, year out, she was seething with hatred for their house?”
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