If I care to listen to every criticism, let alone act on them, then this shop may as well be closed for all other businesses. I have learned to do my best, and if the end result is good then I do not care for any criticism, but if the end result is not good, then even the praise of ten angels would not make the difference.
—Abraham Lincoln (1809–65) American Head of State
Never trust the artist. Trust the tale. The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it.
—D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930) English Novelist, Playwright, Poet, Essayist, Literary Critic
Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn–and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
—Dale Carnegie (1888–1955) American Self-Help Author
In my conscience I believe the baggage loves me, for she never speaks well of me herself, nor suffers any body else to rail at me.
—William Congreve (1670–1729) English Playwright, Poet
So long as I am acting from duty and conviction, I am indifferent to taunts and jeers. I think they will probably do me more good than harm.
—Winston Churchill (1874–1965) British Head of State, Political leader, Historian, Journalist, Author
A man has generally the good or ill qualities which he attributes to mankind.
—William Shenstone (1714–63) English Poet, Gardener
To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
—Elbert Hubbard (1856–1915) American Writer, Publisher, Artist, Philosopher
How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.
—Benjamin Disraeli (1804–81) British Head of State
A good writer is not necessarily a good book critic. No more so than a good drunk is automatically a good bartender.
—Jim Bishop (1907–87) American Journalist, Author
We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.
—Henry Ward Beecher (1813–87) American Protestant Clergyman, Social Reformer, Abolitionist
Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet.
Every writer is necessarily a critic — that is, each sentence is a skeleton accompanied by enormous activity of rejection; and each selection is governed by general principles concerning truth, force, beauty, and so on. The critic that is in every fabulist is like the iceberg — nine-tenths of him is under water.
—Thornton Wilder (1897–1975) American Novelist, Playwright
The pleasure of criticism takes from us that of being deeply moved by very beautiful things.
—Jean de La Bruyere
Most of our censure of others is only oblique praise of self, uttered to show the wisdom and superiority of the speaker. It has all the invidiousness of self-praise, and all the ill-desert of falsehood.
—Tryon Edwards American Theologian
I’d rather be hissed at for a good verse, than applauded for a bad one.
—Victor Hugo (1802–85) French Novelist
There is no defense against criticism except obscurity.
—Joseph Addison (1672–1719) English Essayist, Poet, Playwright, Politician
No sadder proof can be given by a man of his own littleness than disbelief in great men.
—Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) Scottish Writer
Criticism of others is futile and if you indulge in it often you should be warned that it can be fatal to your career.
—Dale Carnegie (1888–1955) American Self-Help Author
Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic.
—Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) Finnish Composer
You’re never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose.
Neither praise or blame is the object of true criticism. Justly to discriminate, firmly to establish, wisely to prescribe, and honestly to award. These are the true aims and duties of criticism.
—William Gilmore Simms (1806–70) American Poet, Novelist, Historian
No matter how well you perform there’s always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it’s lousy.
—Laurence Olivier (1907–89) English Actor, Film Producer, Film Director, Screenwriter
Criticism is often not a science; it is a craft, requiring more good health than wit, more hard work than talent, more habit than native genius. In the hands of a man who has read widely but lacks judgment, applied to certain subjects it can corrupt both its readers and the writer himself.
—Jean de La Bruyere
The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews. The ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.
—William Faulkner (1897–1962) American Novelist
Any coward can sit at home and criticize a pilot for flying into a mountain in a fog. But I would rather by far die on a mountainside than in bed.
—Charles Lindbergh (1902–74) American Aviator, Inventor, Conservationist
You should not say it is not good. You should say you do not like it; and then, you know, you’re perfectly safe.
—James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) American Painter
There are some critics who change everything that comes under their hands to gold; but to this privilege of Midas they join sometimes his ears.
—Jean Antoine Petit-Senn (1792–1870) Swiss Poet
The whole effort of a sincere man is to erect his personal impressions into laws.
—Remy de Gourmont (1858–1915) French Poet, Novelist, Critic
No man ever got very high by pulling other people down. The intelligent merchant does not knock his competitors. The sensible worker does not knock those who work with him. Don’t knock your friends. Don’t knock your enemies. Don’t knock yourself.
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–92) British Poet
The avocation of assessing the failures of better men can be turned into a comfortable livelihood, providing you back it up with a Ph.D.
—Nelson Algren (1909–81) American Novelist, Short Story Writer
A good review from the critics is just another stay of execution.
—Dustin Hoffman (b.1937) American Actor, TV Personality, Theater Personality
People want you to be a crazy, out-of-control teen brat. They want you miserable, just like them. They don’t want heroes; what they want is to see you fall.
—Leonardo DiCaprio (b.1974) American Actor, Film Producer
One ought to look a good deal at oneself before thinking of condemning others.
—Moliere (1622–73) French Playwright
The person of analytic or critical intellect finds something ridiculous in everything. The person of synthetic or constructive intellect, in almost nothing.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) German Poet
The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.
—Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) Irish Poet
The critical opinions of a writer should always be taken with a large grain of salt. For the most part, they are manifestations of his debate with himself as to what he should do next and what he should avoid.
—W. H. Auden (1907–73) British-born American Poet, Dramatist
What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you.
—Jean Cocteau (1889–1963) French Poet, Novelist, Dramatist, Playwright, Artist
There are two insults no human will endure: the assertion that he has no sense of humor and the doubly impertinent assertion that he has never known trouble.
Do what you feel in your heart to be right—for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
—Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) American First Lady, Diplomat, Civil Rights Activist, Politician
What a blessed thing it is, that Nature, when she invented, manufactured, and patented her authors, contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left!
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–94) American Physician