49 Unforgettable F. Scott Fitzgerald Quotes

Great American Novelist

The happy Fitzgerald family. Getty Images

Study Guide

F. Scott Fitzgerald is an American writer, known for works like The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night--along with other novels and short stories. Here are a few quotes from the life and works of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Quotes

  1. "A great social success is a pretty girl who plays her cards as carefully as if she were plain.
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, letter to his daughter, Nov. 18, 1938
  2. "Action is character."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notes for The Last Tycoon
  3. "Advertising is a racket, like the movies and the brokerage business. You cannot be honest without admitting that its constructive contribution to humanity is exactly minus zero."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, letter to his daughter, Aug. 24, 1940
  4. "After all, life hasn't much to offer except youth, and I suppose for older people, the love of youth in others."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, letter to his cousin Cici
  5. "All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, letter to his daughter
  6. "All life is just a progression toward, and then a recession from, one phrase--"I love you.""
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Offshore Pirate"
  7. "An idea ran back and forward in his head like a blind man knocking over the solid furniture."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notebooks
  1. "At any rate, let us love for a while, for a year or so, you and me. That's a form of divine drunkenness that we can all try."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz"
  2. "At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look; at forty-five they are caves in which we hide."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Bernice Bobs Her Hair"
  3. "Boredom is not an end-product, is comparatively rather an early stage in life and art. You've got to go by or past or through boredom, as through a filter, before the clear product emerges."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up
  4. "Debut: the first time a young girl is seen drunk in public."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notebooks
  5. "Either you think--or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night
  6. "Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
  7. "Everybody's youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz"
  1. "Family quarrels are bitter things. They don't go according to any rules. They're not like aches or wounds; they're more like splits in the skin that won't heal because there's not enough material."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Notebook O," The Crack-Up
  2. "Forgotten is forgiven."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notebooks
  3. "France was a land, England was a people, but America, having about it still that quality of the idea, was harder to utter-it was the graves at Shiloh and the tired, drawn, nervous faces of its great men, and the country boys dying in the Argonne for a phrase that was empty before their bodies withered. It was a willingness of the heart."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Swimmers," Saturday Evening Post, Oct. 19, 1929
  4. "Genius goes around the world in its youth incessantly apologizing for having large feet. What wonder that later in life it should be inclined to raise those feet too swiftly to fools and bores."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notebooks
  5. "Isn't Hollywood a dump-in the human sense of the word. A hideous town, pointed up by the insulting gardens of its rich, full of the human spirit at a new low of debasement."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, letter, Jul. 29, 1940
  1. "It is in the thirties that we want friends. In the forties we know they won't save us any more than love did."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notebooks
  2. "It is sadder to find the past again and find it inadequate to the present than it is to have it elude you and remain forever a harmonious conception of memory."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Show Mr. and Mrs. F. to Number--"
  3. "It took him a moment to respond to the unguarded sweetness of her smile, her body calculated to a millimeter to suggest a bud yet guarantee a flower."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender Is the Night
  4. "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Rich Boy"
  1. "Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notebooks
  2. "Mostly, we authors must repeat ourselves-that's the truth. We have two or three great moving experiences in our lives-experiences so great and moving that it doesn't seem at the time that anyone else has been so caught up and pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way ever before."
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald, "One Hundred False Starts," Saturday Evening Post, Mar. 4, 1933

Study Guide

Here are more quotes from the life and works of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

More More F. Scott Fitzgerald Quotes

26. "No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart."

- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

27. "No grand idea was ever born in a conference, but a lot of foolish ideas have died there."

- F. Scott Fitzgerald Notebooks

28. "Nothing is as obnoxious as other people's luck"
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, letter to his daughter, Sep. 19, 1938

29. "Often I think writing is a sheer paring away of oneself leaving always something thinner, barer, more meager."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, letter to his daughter, Apr. 27, 1940

30. "Optimism is the content of small men in high places."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notebooks

31. "People try so hard to believe in leaders now, pitifully hard. But we no sooner get a popular reformer or politician or soldier or writer or philosopher - a Roosevelt, a Tolstoi, a Wood, a Shaw, a Nietzsche, than the cross-currents of criticism wash him away. My Lord, no man can stand prominence these days. It's the surest path to obscurity. People get sick of hearing the same name over and over."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

32. "Personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

33. "Poetry is either something that lives like fire inside you-like music to the musician or Marxism to the Communist-or else it is nothing, an empty formalized bore around which pedants can endlessly drone their notes and explanations."

- F. Scott Fitzgerald, letter to his daughter, Aug. 3, 1940

34. "Riches have never fascinated me, unless combined with the greatest charm or distinction."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, letter to Ernest Hemingway, Aug. 1936

35. "Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notebooks

36. "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

37. "Sometimes it is harder to deprive oneself of a pain than of a pleasure."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night Speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

38. "The compensation of a very early success is a conviction that life is a romantic matter. In the best sense one stays young."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, American Cavalcade, Oct. 1937

39. "The easiest way to get a reputation is to go outside the fold, shout around for a few years as a violent atheist or a dangerous radical, and then crawl back to the shelter."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notebooks The faces of most American women over thirty are relief maps of petulant and bewildered unhappiness."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, letter to his daughter, Oct. 5, 1940

40. "The idea that to make a man work you've got to hold gold in front of his eyes is a growth, not an axiom. We've done that for so long that we've forgotten there's any other way."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

41. "The kiss originated when the first male reptile licked the first female reptile, implying in a subtle, complimentary way that she was as succulent as the small reptile he had for dinner the night before."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notebooks

42. "The man who arrives young believes that he exercises his will because his star is shining. The man who only asserts himself at thirty has a balanced idea of what willpower and fate have each contributed, the one who gets there at forty is liable to put the emphasis on will alone."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, American Cavalcade, Oct. 1937

43. "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack Up

44. "The victor belongs to the spoils."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

45. "The years between thirty-five and sixty-five revolve before the passive mind as one unexplained, confusing merry-go-round. True, they are a merry-go-round of ill-gaited and wind-broken horses, painted first in pastel colors, then in dull grays and browns, but perplexing and intolerably dizzy the thing is, as never were the merry-go-rounds of childhood or adolescence; as never, surely, were the certain-coursed, dynamic roller-coasters of youth. For most men and women these thirty years are taken up with a gradual withdrawal from life."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "O Russet Witch!"

46. "There used to be two kinds of kisses. First when girls were kissed and deserted; second, when they were engaged. Now there's a third kind, where the man is kissed and deserted. If Mr. Jones of the nineties bragged he'd kissed a girl, everyone knew he was through with her. If Mr. Jones of 1919 brags the same everyone knows it's because he can't kiss her any more."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

47. "When the first-rate author wants an exquisite heroine or a lovely morning, he finds that all the superlatives have been worn shoddy by his inferiors. It should be a rule that bad writers must start with plain heroines and ordinary mornings, and, if they are able, work up to something better."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notebooks

48. "Writers aren't people exactly. Or, if they're any good, they're a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person. It's like actors, who try so pathetically not to look in mirrors. Who lean backward trying-only to see their faces in the reflecting chandeliers."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Last Tycoon

49. "You can stroke people with words."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Notebooks