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Satire is a literary technique of writing or art which exposes the follies of its subject (for example, individuals, organizations, or states) to ridicule, often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change.
- SATIRE, n. An obsolete kind of literary composition in which the vices and follies of the author's enemies were expounded with imperfect tenderness. In this country satire never had more than a sickly and uncertain existence, for the soul of it is wit, wherein we are dolefully deficient, the humor that we mistake for it, like all humor, being tolerant and sympathetic. Moreover, although Americans are "endowed by their Creator" with abundant vice and folly, it is not generally known that these are reprehensible qualities, wherefore the satirist is popularly regarded as a soul-spirited knave, and his ever victim's outcry for codefendants evokes a national assent.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
- Unless a love of virtue light the flame,
Satire is, more than those he brands, to blame;
He hides behind a magisterial air
His own offences, and strips others' bare.
- William Cowper, Charity (1781), line 490
- Why should we fear; and what? The laws?
They all are armed in virtue's cause;
And aiming at the self-same end,
Satire is always virtue's friend.
- Charles Churchill, The Ghost (1763), Book III, line 943
- Satire well applied, is the medicine of the mind.
- James Cobb, The Haunted Tower (1789), Act II, scene II
- Satirists, be careful. In the 1931 film by René Clair À Nous la Liberté a song says, "Work is freedom." In 1940 the sign on the gates to Auschwitz said: "Albeit macht frei."
- Stanisław Jerzy Lec, in Unkempt Thoughts (1957), p. 46
- Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Tom Lehrer, in a statement of 1973, as quoted in Sydney Morning Herald (1 March 2003)
- Now, as I understand it, the bards were feared. They were respected, but more than that they were feared. If you were just some magician, if you'd pissed off some witch, then what's she gonna do, she's gonna put a curse on you, and what's gonna happen? Your hens are gonna lay funny, your milk's gonna go sour, maybe one of your kids is gonna get a hare-lip or something like that — no big deal. You piss off a bard, and forget about putting a curse on you, he might put a satire on you. And if he was a skilful bard, he puts a satire on you, it destroys you in the eyes of your community, it shows you up as ridiculous, lame, pathetic, worthless, in the eyes of your community, in the eyes of your family, in the eyes of your children, in the eyes of yourself, and if it's a particularly good bard, and he's written a particularly good satire, then three hundred years after you're dead, people are still gonna be laughing, at what a twat you were.
- Alan Moore, "The Craft" - interview with Daniel Whiston, Engine Comics (January 2005)
- It is a pretty mocking of the life.
- William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens (date uncertain, published 1623), Act I, scene 1, line 35
- Satire is a kind of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.
- Jonathan Swift, The Battle of the Books (1704)
- Satire, by being levelled at all, is never resented for an offence by any.
- Jonathan Swift, A Tale of a Tub (1704)
- A good satirist never pauses to worry about angering the citizenry.
- Haim Watzman, In a letter of resignation from The Jerusalem Report, on the dismissal of Avi Katz.
- Satire is what closes on Saturday night.
- George S. Kaufman, after the first version of his play Strike up the Band, closed on the weekend
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 690
- Difficile est satiram non scribere.
- It is difficult not to write satire.
- Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), I. 29
- Men are more satirical from vanity than from malice.
- François de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims. No. 608
- Satire should, like a polished razor keen,
Wound with a touch that's scarcely felt or seen.
Thine is an oyster knife, that hacks and hews;
The rage but not the talent to abuse.
- Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, To the Imitator of the First Satire of Horace (Pope)
- I wear my Pen as others do their Sword.
To each affronting sot I meet, the word
Is Satisfaction: straight to thrusts I go,
And pointed satire runs him through and through.
- John Oldham, Satire upon a Printer, line 36
- Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;
Alike reserv'd to blame, or to commend,
A tim'rous foe, and a suspicious friend.
- Alexander Pope, Prologue to Satires, line 201
- Satire or sense, alas! Can Sporus feel?
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
- Alexander Pope, Prologue to Satires, line 307. ("Sporus," Lord John Hervey)
- There are, to whom my satire seems too bold;
Scarce to wise Peter complaisant enough,
And something said of Chartres much too rough.
- Alexander Pope, Second Book of Horace, Satire I, line 2
- Satire's my weapon, but I'm too discreet
To run amuck and tilt at all I meet.
- Alexander Pope, Second Book of Horace. Satire I, line 71
- La satire ment sur les gens de lettres pendant leur vie, et l'éloge ment après leur mort.
- Satire lies about literary men while they live and eulogy lies about them when they die.
- Voltaire, Lettre à Bordes (10 January 1769)