Leo Rosten

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I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong.

Leo Calvin Rosten (11 April 190819 February 1997) was an American teacher, academic and humorist best remembered for his stories about the night-school "prodigy" Hyman Kaplan and for The Joys of Yiddish (1968).

Quotes[edit]

What's green, hangs on a wall and whistles?
  • The only thing I can say about W. C. Fields … is this: Any man who hates dogs and babies can't be all bad.
    • Although a very common misconception is to attribute the final part of this quote to W.C. Fields himself, it was actually first said about him by Rosten during a "roast" of Fields at the Masquer's Club in Hollywood in 1939, as Rosten explains in his book, The Power of Positive Nonsense (1977).
  • I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong.
    • Captain Newman, M. D (1962), p. 328; this is also sometimes attributed to Leo Buscaglia, who often quoted it in his addresses and in his book Living, Loving and Learning (1982).
  • Conservative: One who admires radicals a century after they're dead.
    • As quoted in The Modern Handbook of Humor (1967) by Ralph Louis Woods
    • Variants:
    • A conservative is someone who admires radicals a century after they're dead.
    • A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead.
  • What's green, hangs on a wall and whistles?
    • Riddle presented in The Joys of Yiddish (1968) The answer: "A Herring" — because you can paint it green, nail it to the wall — and the whistling part is added just to make the riddle hard." Rosten did not claim to be the author of this riddle, but he popularized it.
  • Extremists think "communication" means agreeing with them.
    • As quoted in Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time (1979) compiled by Laurence J. Peter, p. 100

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
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