Famous Kurt Vonnegut Quotes

If you’re looking for some words of wisdom from one of the most celebrated authors of the 20th century, you need look no further than Kurt Vonnegut quotes. His unique perspective and biting wit are on full display in his collected quotes. Whether you’re looking for some inspiration or just a good laugh, Vonnegut is sure to had something to say that will resonate with you.

kurt vonnegut quotes

Born in Indianapolis in 1922, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was the second of three children of Kurt Vonnegut Sr. and his wife, Edith. The elder Vonnegut was an architect, and the family enjoyed a comfortable life until the Depression hit.

Vonnegut Jr. was a sickly child, and he spent much of his time reading. After graduating from high school, he attended Cornell University, but he was drafted into the army in 1943 and served in Europe during World War II. Vonnegut was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge and spent time in a POW camp.

After the war, Vonnegut married Jane Cox, and the couple had a daughter. Vonnegut started writing in the 1950s, and his first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1952. Vonnegut’s books often explore the dark side of American society, and they are characterized by his signature black humor.

 In 1969, Vonnegut published Slaughterhouse-Five, a novel based on his experiences as a POW. The book was a critical and commercial success, and it is considered one of the best American novels of the 20th century.

Vonnegut continued to write throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and he was awarded the prestigious American Humanist Association’s Humanist of the Year award in 1986. He died in 2007.

84 Kurt Vonnegut Quotes

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  1. “A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

2. “The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick and Colon.”

3. “If you can do no good, at least do no harm.”

4. “That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones.”

5. “If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you’re a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind.”

6. “We are what we imagine ourselves to be.”

7. “Enjoy the little things in life because one day you`ll look back and realize they were the big things.”

8. “Just because you can read, write and do a little math, doesn’t mean that you’re entitled to conquer the universe.”

9. “Only in books do we learn what’s really going on.”

10. “All right – I’ll tell you what you did for me: you went for happy, silly, beautiful walks with me.”

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Kurt Vonnegut Quotes About Life

11. “Maturity…is knowing what your limitations are…Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.”

12. “I really wonder what gives us the right to wreck this poor planet of ours.”

13. “Until you die .. it’s all life.”

14. “What you can become is the miracle you were born to be through the work that you do.”

15. “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”

16. “Everything is nothing, with a twist.”

17. “Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.”

18. “Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before.”

19. “Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.”

20. “Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”

Famous Kurt Vonnegut Quotes

21. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

22. “People aren’t supposed to look back. I’m certainly not going to do it anymore.”

23. “She broke my heart. I didn’t like that much. But that was the price. In this world, you get what you pay for.”

24. “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

25. “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

26. “I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without expectations of rewards or punishments after I am dead.”

27. “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

28. “Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.”

29. “He ate a pear. It was a hard one. It fought back against his grinding teeth. It snapped in juicy protest.”

30. “There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.”

Thought-Provoking Kurt Vonnegut Quotes

31. “Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”

32. “If I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I’m grateful that so many of those moments are nice.”

33. “One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.”

34. “You meet saints everywhere. They can be anywhere. They are people behaving decently in an indecent society.”

35. “If your brains were dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.”

36. “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”

37. “There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look.”

38. “No good at life, but very funny sometimes with the commentary.”

39. “I still believe that peace and plenty and happiness can be worked out some way. I am a fool.”

40. “The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.”

Also Read About Norman Vincent Peale Quotes About Positive Thinking, Faith and Success

41. “Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.”

42. “What a fool I would have been to let self-respect interfere with my happiness!”

43. “Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.”

44. “Science is magic that works.”

45. “The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart.”

46. “All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental.”

47. “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

48. “The practice of art isn’t to make a living. It’s to make your soul grow.”

49. “How complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.”

50. “I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.”

51. “Live by the harmless untruths that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.”

52. “She hated people who thought too much. At that moment, she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind.”

53. “Anyone unable to understand how useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either.”

54. “He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next”

55. “The heartbreaking necessity of lying about reality and the heartbreaking impossibilty of lying about it”

56. “All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies.”

57. “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”

58. “I still catch myself feeling sad about things that don’t matter anymore.”

59. “There is no order in the world around us, we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead.”

60. “The nicest veterans…the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who’d really fought.”

61. “The only difference between Hitler and Bush is that Hitler was elected.”

62. “It is just an illusion here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone, it is gone forever.”

63. “The planet was being destroyed by manufacturing processes, and what was being manufactured was lousy, by and large.”

64. “Wake up, you idiots! Whatever made you think that money was so valuable?”

65. “Plato says that the unexamined life is not worth living. But what if the examined life turns out to be a clunker as well?”

66. “As stupid and vicious as men are, this is a lovely day.”

67. “Earthlings went on being friendly, when they should have been thinking instead.”

68. “I am eternally grateful for my knack of finding in great books, some of them very funny books, reason enough to feel honored to be alive, no matter what else might be going on.”

69. “New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.”

70. “There are too many of us and we are all too far apart.”

71. “It’s the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: ‘Good-bye.”

72. “You were sick, but now you’re well again, and there’s work to do.”

73. “What is the purpose of life?…To be the eyes and ears and conscience of the Creator of the Universe, you fool!”

74. “Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind.”

75. “You’ll forget it when you’re dead, and so will I. When I’m dead, I’m going to forget everything–and I advise you to do the same.”

76. “Seems like the only kind of job an American can get these days is committing suicide in some way.”

77. “I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.”

78. “The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.”

79. “Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.”

80. “Everything about life is a joke. Don’t you know that?”

81. “All people are insane. They will do anything at any time, and God help anybody who looks for reasons.”

82. “The function of the artist is to make people like life better than they have before.”

83. “Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.”

84. “Symbols can be so beautiful, sometimes.”

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