Jacques Barzun Quotes

Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred.

If civilization has risen from the Stone Age, it can rise again from the Wastepaper Age.

The House of Intellect today numbers few great figures and virtually no grand old men. Past achievements do not secure anyone a place, and this not because of the multitude of new achievements, but because to consider a reputation established would be to confer status, privilege. A master in his old age must therefore continue […]

The intellectuals’ chief cause of anguish are one another’s works.

Except among those whose education has been in the minimalist style, it is understood that hasty moral judgments about the past are a form of injustice.

I once worked as a salesman and was very independent. I took orders from no one.

The label Humanism is odd… but it is not arbitrary: it originally described the style of the ancients: Litterae humaniores, the more human letters, meaning a literature less abstract than mediaeval philosophy and expressed in a more elegant grammar and concise vocabulary… Their negative view was unfair; the Humanists owed more to the past than […]

Let us face a pluralistic world in which there are no universal churches, no single remedy for all diseases, no one way to teach or write or sing, no magic diet, no world poets, and no chosen races, but only the wretched and wonderfully diversified human race.

What is curious about 20th century dictatorships is that with their powerful means of repression they fear the slightest murmur of dissent. A careless word, a mistimed joke is enough to suggest heresy. This remains true under present day “political correctness,” but so far the penalties have been mild – opprobrium, loss of employment, and […]

The starting point of conversation is contradiction, and this democratic manners do not tolerate. Contradiction implies that one or another of the conversing group must be wrong, and under modern manners… peculiar feelings cling to error.