Talk:James Thurber

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Original request[edit]

Okay, in 24 hours I've tracked down about 50 of these, added the attributions and organized them a bit into sections. Inclusionist that I am, I deleted nothing, and added just one really famous cartoon caption (about the seal in the bedroom). Even so, it looks as though someone pasted in (without attributions) almost everything in Yahoo's quotations by Thurber, and that may be excessive. I say this because a large portion of a fairly obscure essay, "I Believe", has been imported to Wikiquote. I leave it to someone who isn't fresh off the boat from Wikipedia to determine whether exceeds fair use and is less than notable. Mavarin 02:31, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Ah, you've flagged it. Good. Please let me know if there's anything further I need to do. My guess it that removing the "I Believe" section in its entirety will abate the problem, because that's where the large blocks of text mostly come from. Also, these quotes are less notable than the fable morals, the cartoon captions and other short, well-known quotes. Mavarin 09:55, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
On second thought, there are some rather large chunks in the letters and interviews that should probably go away also. Not the Murrow one, because that's legitimately famous; but the "memo to the New Yorker" stuff and other long, relatively obscure quotes may be problematic.Mavarin 09:59, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
I went ahead and removed the problematic "I Believe" section, on the theory that it's better to err on the side of caution. Mavarin 06:33, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Fuller?[edit]

"Early to go to Bed, and early to rise, Will make a Man Healthy, Wealthy and Wise." Was it Franklin or Fuller that said this originally? This page says it's Franklin, but it's listed on Fullers page (and not Franklins). 08:42, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Franklin's quote appears in Poor Richard's Almanack (1735). Thurber's parody resembles Franklin's wording more closely than Fuller's and, although neither was particularly original[1], the attribution to Franklin was more popular in Thurber's time.

[1: Fuller frankly collected proverbs "receiv'd from Men, or Books worth preserving" ("To the Reader"), and Franklin was shameless about "those pretentious maxims of his, which he worked up with a great show of originality out of truisms that had become wearisome platitudes as early as the dispersion from Babel" (Mark Twain, "The Late Benjamin Franklin".]

~ Ningauble 17:53, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Hi ho Silver?[edit]

Uh.. What's with the unicorn sculpture? If it lacks direct relevance, what about deleting it? Opinions..

I've just added a photo of Thurber to head the article, which wasn't available previously, and will probably do more work on it soon. Though the unicorn doesn't have any specific and obvious "direct relevance" to the story used for its caption, the phrase used has relevance to the image, and in a more expansive way to the themes and ideas used in many of Thurber's stories, of the relevance of whimsy and other "irrelevancies", including of course "The Unicorn in the Garden". ~ Kalki 08:01, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanation, Kalki. With your help I've now succeeded in penetrating the allusion. Will it be equally apparent to others readers? Frankly, I believe that absent your enlightening clue, readers will remain, er.., clueless. It is indeed unfortunately that explicit clarification of this point would detract from the very feeling whimsy you wish to invoke!
A further problem you might want to consider is that both unusual attentiveness and superior eyesight are needed to distinguish the image from a conventional equestrian statue. At first I thought the image hinted at some as yet undiscovered martial tale in Thurber's ouevre. Taken together I was glad to learn that you've posted an image of the author and hope that the unicorn may soon be banished to its mythical homeland. Kind regards! --Philopedia 14:39, 26 November 2007 (UTC)


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote on this list please move it to James Thurber. --Antiquary 18:56, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

  • A lady of forty-seven who had been married twenty-seven years and has six children knows what love really is and once described it for me like this: 'Love is what you've been through with somebody.'
  • Don't let that chip on your shoulder be your only reason for walking erect.
  • A fish is like a dish that floats in the sea but is no greater than me.
  • He was always leaning forward, pushing something invisible ahead of him.
  • Humor is a serious thing. I like to think of it as one of our greatest earliest natural resources, which must be preserved at all cost.
  • Hundreds of hysterical persons must confuse these phenomena with messages from the beyond and take their glory to the bishop rather than the eye doctor.
  • I hate women because they always know where things are.
  • I loathe the expression "What makes him tick." It is the American mind, looking for simple and singular solution, that uses the foolish expression. A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour, falls and breaks and has to be put together again, and sometimes stops like an electric clock in a thunderstorm.
  • I think that maybe if women and children were in charge we would get somewhere.
  • I used to wake up at 4 A.M. and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness.
  • If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.
  • It had only one fault. It was kind of lousy.
  • Last night I dreamed of a small consolation enjoyed only by the blind: Nobody knows the trouble I've not seen!
  • Laughter need not be cut out of anything, since it improves everything.
  • Let the meek inherit the earth — they have it coming to them.
  • Love is the strange bewilderment that overtakes one person on account of another person.
  • Man is flying too fast for a world that is round. Soon he will catch up with himself in a great rear end collision.
  • No male can beat a female in the long run because they have it over us in sheer, damn longevity.
  • Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that can happen to a man.
  • Ours is a precarious language, as every writer knows, in which the merest shadow line often separates affirmation from negation, sense from nonsense, and one sex from the other.
  • Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.
  • So much has already been written about everything that you can't find out anything about it.
  • Some American writers who have known each other for years have never met in the daytime or when both were sober.
  • The appreciative smile, the chuckle, the soundless mirth, so important to the success of comedy, cannot be understood unless one sits among the audience and feels the warmth created by the quality of laughter that the audience takes home with it.
  • The chill Miss Trent has her men frustrated to a point at which a mortal male would smack her little mouth, so smooth, so firm, so free of nicotine, alcohol and emotion.
  • The most dangerous food is wedding cake.
  • The past is an old armchair in the attic, the present an ominous ticking sound, and the future is anybody's guess.
  • There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception
  • There is something about a poet which leads us to believe that he died, in many cases, as long as 20 years before his birth.
  • Yes, my works lose something in the original.
    • said to an admirer who told him that his output read very well in French translation
  • Unless artists can remember what it was to be a little boy, they are only half complete as artist and as man.
  • We all have faults, and mine is being wicked.
  • Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?
  • Women are wiser than men because they know less and understand more.
  • Never allow a nervous female to have access to a pistol, no matter what you're wearing.

This seems to be quoted often: "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. But all the angels are in heaven, and few of the fools are dead. 20:57, 8 March 2012 (UTC)