Top 50+ Kurt Vonnegut Quotes

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Kurt Vonnegut was born on the 11th November 1922 in Indianapolis, Indiana and attended Cornell University before dropping out and enlisting in the army. The American writer studied engineering before deploying to Europe, where he was captured and held at Dresden in a slaughterhouse. Following the war, he started a family and began his prolific writing career.

His first novel was published in 1952, with the title Player Piano. Whilst it was well received, it wasn’t the commercial success he had hoped, but in the following two decades, he continued to publish well received books before his most famous book was released, Slaughterhouse-Five. Due to being released at the same time as the Vietnam War, it resonated with much of the American population, as it contained anti-work sentiment. The book jumped to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list, turning Vonnegut into a popular figure and winning many awards.

In the later part of his career, he continued to publish works including essays and short stories, cementing his position as an eminent writer who uses black humour to comment on the era he lived in. We have collected some incredible quotes from across his works and listed them below.

1. “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

2. “Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.”

3. “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

4. “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”

5. “And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

6 “And so it goes…”

7. “If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

8. “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”

9. “If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

10. “Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
11. “A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

12 “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”

13. “And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”

14 “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.”

15 “How nice — to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.”

16. “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

17. “And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.”

18. “Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.”

19. “The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick and Colon.”

20. “Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.”

21. “Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.”

22. “Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.”

23. “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”

24. “True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”

25. “1492. As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them.”

26. “Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.”

27. “The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.”

28. “One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.”

29. “I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.”

30. “Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.”

31. “The only difference between Hitler and Bush is that Hitler was elected.”

32. “Science is magic that works.”

33. “Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”

34. “All this happened, more or less.”

35. “Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.”

36. “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”

37. “All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist.”

38. “A sane person to an insane society must appear insane.”

39. “Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before.”

40. “There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.”

41. “If you can do no good, at least do no harm.”

42. “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”

43. Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.”

44. “Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”

45. “Do you realize that all great literature is all about what a bummer it is to be a human being? Isn’t it such a relief to have somebody say that?”

46. “Love is where you find it. I think it is foolish to go around looking for it, and I think it can be poisonous. I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, ‘Please — a little less love, and a little more common decency’.”

47. “Live by the harmless untruths that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.”

48. “If somebody says ‘I love you’ to me, I feel as though I had a pistol pointed at my head. What can anybody reply under such conditions but that which the pistol holder requires? ‘I love you, too’.”

49. “And yet another moral occurs to me now: Make love when you can. It’s good for you.”

50. “The nicest veterans…the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who’d really fought.”

51. “Where do I get my ideas from? You might as well have asked that of Beethoven. He was goofing around in Germany like everybody else, and all of a sudden this stuff came gushing out of him. It was music. I was goofing around like everybody else in Indiana, and all of a sudden stuff came gushing out. It was disgust with civilization.”

52. “Anyway—because we are readers, we don’t have to wait for some communications executive to decide what we should think about next—and how we should think about it. We can fill our heads with anything from aardvarks to zucchinis—at any time of night or day.”

53. “As for literary criticism in general: I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel or a play or a poem is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae or a banana split.”

54. “That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones.”

55. “I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without expectations of rewards or punishments after I am dead.”

56. “I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, ‘The Beatles did’.”

57. “I’m not a drug salesman. I’m a writer.”

58. “What makes you think a writer isn’t a drug salesman?”

59. “There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look.”

60. “I felt after I finished Slaughterhouse-Five that I didn’t have to write at all anymore if I didn’t want to. It was the end of some sort of career. I don’t know why, exactly. I suppose that flowers, when they’re through blooming, have some sort of awareness of some purpose having been served. Flowers didn’t ask to be flowers and I didn’t ask to be me. At the end of Slaughterhouse-Five…I had a shutting-off feeling…that I had done what I was supposed to do and everything was OK .”

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