William Saroyan quotes

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William Saroyan

Birthdate: 31. August 1908
Date of death: 18. May 1981

William Saroyan was an Armenian-American novelist, playwright, and short story writer. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1940, and in 1943 won the Academy Award for Best Story for the film adaptation of his novel The Human Comedy.

Saroyan wrote extensively about the Armenian immigrant life in California. Many of his stories and plays are set in his native Fresno. Some of his best-known works are The Time of Your Life, My Name Is Aram and My Heart's in the Highlands.

He has been described in a Dickinson College news release as "one of the most prominent literary figures of the mid-20th century" and by Stephen Fry as "one of the most underrated writers of the [20th] century." Fry suggests that "he takes his place naturally alongside Hemingway, Steinbeck and Faulkner." Wikipedia

Works

The Human Comedy
William Saroyan
The Time of Your Life
The Time of Your Life
William Saroyan
My Name Is Aram
My Name Is Aram
William Saroyan

„One day, back there in the good old days when I was nine and the world was full of every kind of magnificence, and life was still a delightful and mysterious dream, my cousin Mourad, who was considered crazy by everybody who knew him except me, came to my house at four in the morning and woke me up by tapping on the window of my room.“

—  William Saroyan, book My Name Is Aram

"The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse".
My Name Is Aram (1940)
Context: One day, back there in the good old days when I was nine and the world was full of every kind of magnificence, and life was still a delightful and mysterious dream, my cousin Mourad, who was considered crazy by everybody who knew him except me, came to my house at four in the morning and woke me up by tapping on the window of my room.
"Aram," he said.
I jumped out of bed and looked out the window.
I couldn't believe what I saw.
It wasn't morning yet, but it was summer and with daybreak not many minutes around the corner of the world it was light enough for me to know I wasn't dreaming.
My cousin Mourad was sitting on a beautiful white horse.

„Then swiftly, neatly, with the grace of the young man on the trapeze, he was gone from his body.
For an eternal moment he was still all things at once: the bird, the fish, the rodent, the reptile, and man.“

—  William Saroyan

"The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze"
The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze (1934)
Context: Then swiftly, neatly, with the grace of the young man on the trapeze, he was gone from his body.
For an eternal moment he was still all things at once: the bird, the fish, the rodent, the reptile, and man. An ocean of print undulated endlessly and darkly before him. The city burned. The herded crowd rioted. The earth circled away, and knowing that he did so, he turned his lost face to the empty sky and became dreamless, unalive, perfect.

„When you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.“

—  William Saroyan

Preface
The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze (1934)
Context: The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.

„I believed from the beginning of remembered experience that I was somebody with an incalculable potential for enlargement, somebody who both knew and could find out, upon whom demands could be made with the expectation of having them fulfilled.
I felt at the same time, and pretty much constantly, that I was nothing in relation to Enormity, the Unknown, and the Unknowable.“

—  William Saroyan

Here Comes There Goes You Know Who (1961)
Context: I believed from the beginning of remembered experience that I was somebody with an incalculable potential for enlargement, somebody who both knew and could find out, upon whom demands could be made with the expectation of having them fulfilled.
I felt at the same time, and pretty much constantly, that I was nothing in relation to Enormity, the Unknown, and the Unknowable. I was too vulnerable, too lacking in power, a thing of subtle reality, liable to be blown away without a moment's warning, a migrant with no meaning, no guide, no counsel, an entity in continuous transition, a growing thing whose stages of growth always went unnoticed, a fluid and flawed thing. Thus, there could be no extreme vanity in my recognition of myself, if in fact there could be any at all. I did frequently rejoice in the recognition, but I may have gotten that from some of the Protestant hymns I had heard, and knew, and had sung, such as Joy to the World. The simple fact was that if the song wasn't about me, I couldn't see how it could possibly be about anybody else, including the one I knew it was supposed to be about, and good luck to him, too.

„There is no America and there is no England, and no France, and no Italy. There is only the earth.“

—  William Saroyan

Inhale and Exhale (1936)
Context: There is a small area of land in Asia Minor that is called Armenia, but it is not so. It is not Armenia. It is a place. There are only Armenians, and they inhabit the earth, not Armenia, since there is no Armenia. There is no America and there is no England, and no France, and no Italy. There is only the earth.

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„The writer is a spiritual anarchist, as in the depth of his soul every man is.“

—  William Saroyan

The William Saroyan Reader (1958)
Context: The writer is a spiritual anarchist, as in the depth of his soul every man is. He is discontented with everything and everybody. The writer is everybody's best friend and only true enemy — the good and great enemy. He neither walks with the multitude nor cheers with them. The writer who is a writer is a rebel who never stops.

„There is a small area of land in Asia Minor that is called Armenia, but it is not so.“

—  William Saroyan

Inhale and Exhale (1936)
Context: There is a small area of land in Asia Minor that is called Armenia, but it is not so. It is not Armenia. It is a place. There are only Armenians, and they inhabit the earth, not Armenia, since there is no Armenia. There is no America and there is no England, and no France, and no Italy. There is only the earth.

„He wanted to be a passenger on anything that was going anywhere, but most of all on a ship.“

—  William Saroyan

Short Drive, Sweet Chariot (1966)
Context: When I was fifteen and had quit school forever, I went to work in a vineyard near Sanger with a number of Mexicans, one of whom was only a year or two older than myself, an earnest boy named Felipe. One gray, dismal, cold, dreary day in January, while we were pruning muscat vines, I said to this boy, simply in order to be talking, "If you had your wish, Felipe, what would you want to be? A doctor, a farmer, a singer, a painter, a matador, or what?" Felipe thought a minute, and then he said, "Passenger." This was exciting to hear, and definitely something to talk about at some length, which we did. He wanted to be a passenger on anything that was going anywhere, but most of all on a ship.

„For if everybody else is also not what Jesus said he was, what good is what he said?“

—  William Saroyan

Sons Come and Go, Mothers Hang in Forever (1976)
Context: Jesus never said anything about absurdity, and he never indicated for one flash of time that he was aware of the preposterousness of his theory about himself. And he didn't even try to make the theory understandable in terms of the reality and experience of the rest of us. For if everybody else is also not what Jesus said he was, what good is what he said?

„I don't like to see kids throw away their truth just because it isn't worth a dime in the open market.“

—  William Saroyan

"The Flashing Dragonfly" (1973)
Context: Whoever the kid had been, whoever had the grand attitude, has finally heeded the admonishment of parents, teachers, governments, religions, and the law: "You just change your attitude now please, young man." This transformation in kids — from flashing dragonflies, so to say, to sticky water-surface worms slowly slipping downstream — is noticed with pride by society and with mortification by God, which is a fantastic way of saying I don't like to see kids throw away their truth just because it isn't worth a dime in the open market.

„In the time of your life, live — so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding-place and let it be free and unashamed. Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world.“

—  William Saroyan, The Time of Your Life

The Time of Your Life (1939)
Context: In the time of your life, live — so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding-place and let it be free and unashamed. Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart. Be the inferior of no man, nor of any man be the superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man's guilt is not yours, nor is any man's innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle, but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret. In the time of your life, live — so that in the wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.

„Death is not an easy thing for anyone to understand, least of all a child, but every life shall one day end. But as long as we are alive, as long as we are together, as long as two of us are left, and remember him, nothing in the world can take him from us. His body can be taken, but not him.“

—  William Saroyan, book The Human Comedy

The Human Comedy (1943)
Context: Death is not an easy thing for anyone to understand, least of all a child, but every life shall one day end. But as long as we are alive, as long as we are together, as long as two of us are left, and remember him, nothing in the world can take him from us. His body can be taken, but not him. You shall know your father better as you grow and know yourself better. He is not dead, because you are alive. Time and accident, illness and weariness took his body, but already you have given it back to him, younger and more eager than ever. I don't expect you to understand anything I'm telling you. But I know you will remember this — that nothing good ever ends. If it did, there would be no people in the world — no life at all, anywhere. And the world is full of people and full of wonderful life.

„I began to write in the first place because I expected everything to change, and I wanted to have things in writing the way they had been.“

—  William Saroyan

"One Day in the Afternoon of the World" (1964)
Context: I began to write in the first place because I expected everything to change, and I wanted to have things in writing the way they had been. Just a little things, of course. A little of my little.

„I am interested in madness. I believe it is the biggest thing in the human race, and the most constant.“

—  William Saroyan

Short Drive, Sweet Chariot (1966)
Context: I am interested in madness. I believe it is the biggest thing in the human race, and the most constant. How do you take away from a man his madness without also taking away his identity? Are we sure it is desirable for a man's spirit not to be at war with itself, or that it is better to be serene and ready to go to dinner than to be excited and unwilling to stop for a cup of coffee, even?

„The loneliness does not come from the War. The War did not make it. It was the loneliness that made the War.“

—  William Saroyan, book The Human Comedy

The Human Comedy (1943)
Context: Everything is changed — for you. But it is still the same, too. The loneliness you feel has come to you because you are no longer a child. But the whole world has always been full of that loneliness. The loneliness does not come from the War. The War did not make it. It was the loneliness that made the War.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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