Talk:Lillian Hellman

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  • Belief is a moral act for which the believer is to be held responsible.
  • Decisions, particularly important ones, have always made me sleepy, perhaps because I know that I will have to make them by instinct, and thinking things out is only what other people tell me I should do.
    • Said by her in autobiographical novel Pentimento
  • Failure in the theater is more dramatic and uglier than any other form of writing. It costs so much, you feel so guilty.
  • I like people who refuse to speak until they are ready to speak.
  • If you believe, as the Greeks did, that man is at the mercy of the gods, then you write tragedy. The end is inevitable from the beginning. But if you believe that man can solve his own problems and is at nobody's mercy, then you will probably write melodrama.
  • Intellectuals can tell themselves anything, sell themselves any bill of goods, which is why they were so often patsies for the ruling classes in nineteenth-century France and England, or twentieth-century Russia and America.
  • It is a mark of many famous people that they cannot part with their brightest hour.
    • It is a mark of many famous people that they cannot part with their finest hour.
  • It is best to act with confidence, no matter how little right you have to it.
  • It is not good to see people who have been pretending strength all their lives lose it even for a minute.
  • It's an indulgence to sit in a room and discuss your beliefs as if they were a juicy piece of gossip.
  • My father was often angry when I was most like him.
  • Nobody outside of a baby carriage or a judge's chamber believes in an unprejudiced point of view.
  • Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped.
    • Variant: Nothing you write, if you hope to be good, will ever come out as you first hoped.
  • People change and forget to tell each other.
  • Since when do we have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?
    • Since when do you have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?
  • Tallulah was sitting in a group of people, giving the monologue she always thought was conversation.
  • They're fancy talkers about themselves, writers. If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.
  • Things start out as hopes and end up as habits.
  • Truth made you a traitor as it often does in a time of scoundrels.
  • Unjust. How many times I've used that word, scolded myself with it. All I mean by it now is that I don't have the final courage to say that I refuse to preside over violations against myself, and to hell with justice.
  • Was it always my nature to take a bad time and block out the good times, until any success became an accident and failure seemed the only truth?
  • We are a people who do not want to keep much of the past in our heads. It is considered unhealthy in America to remember mistakes, neurotic to think about them, psychotic to dwell on them.
  • What a word is truth. Slippery, tricky, unreliable. I tried in these books to tell the truth.
  • You lose your manners when you are poor.
    • Variant: You lose your manners when you're poor.
  • When giving a talk at a college campus, Ms. Hellman was asked why she had not endorsed gay rights. She replied "The forms of fucking do not require my endorsement." Quoted in a speech given by Christopher Hitchens[1]. Also mentioned (as possibly apocryphal) in this article.