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Quotations from Quentin Crisp


All I know is that when there is anything wrong with you, go to a faith healer, go to a witch doctor, go to a herbalist, go to a chiropractor, go to an analyst; but don't go to hospital.

Resident Alien, Winter 1993 (1993)

Bad manners begin at home.

Resident Alien, Summer 1994 (1994)

Even a monotonously undeviating path of self-examination does not necessarily lead to a mountain of self-knowledge. I stumble toward my grave confused and hurt and hungry…

The Naked Civil Servant (1968)

Every man is an island seeking to establish trade relations across a dark and dangerous sea.

Contradicting Donne in Resident Alien, Foreword (1995)

I am not a Christian; indeed, I believe only in what I can see -- and not all of that.

Resident Alien, Summer 1991 (1991)

I cannot think of anything important that I refrain from doing because of what the world would say.

Resident Alien, Winter 1990 (1990)

I have been trying to understand how Miss MacLaine manages to suppress all feelings of weariness when she so enthusiastically embraces the idea of reincarnation. Imagine falling out of your mother's womb with the words, 'Here again.'

Resident Alien, Spring 1993 (1993)

I have never shared the prevailing opinion that life is wonderful come what may. I have often been surprised when someone who has suffered a permanent injury in some disaster, says, 'I'm lucky to be alive.'

Resident Alien, Spring 1992 (1992)

I like living in one room and have never known what people do with the room they are not in.

Resident Alien, Foreword (1995)

I neither look forward, where there is doubt, nor backward, where there is regret; I look inward and ask myself not if there is anything out in the world that I want and had better grab quickly before nightfall, but whether there is anything inside me that I have not yet unpacked. I want to be certain that, before I fold my hands and step into my coffin, what little I can do and say and be is completed.

Resident Alien, Autumn 1991 (1991)

I never say no to anything on the grounds that, as I lie dying, I shall not regret anything that I did -- only what I didn't do.

Resident Alien, Winter 1994 (1994)

I regard the human body neither as the image of You-Know-Who [God] nor as the temple of Miss Aphrodite. I would describe it as a gravity-resisting mechanism of extreme vulnerability in constant danger of going wrong.

Resident Alien, Summer 1993 (1993)

I told Mr. Hurt it was difficult for actors to play victims, but he has specialized in victims. When he stopped playing me, he played Caligula, which was only me in a sheet. Then he played The Elephant Man, which was only me with a paper bag over my head.


If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style.


If told of someone's death, I will say, 'How terrible...' and look at the floor for an appropriate interval, but I can't really feel it is terrible because in my view death is the least awful thing that can happen to someone.

Resident Alien, Spring 1992 (1992)

In addressing [students and professors], I told them that education was for teachers, not for students, and that nothing worth knowing could be taught. As usual, they remained calm.

Resident Alien, Spring 1994 (1994)

It is an unalterable law that people who claim to care about the human race are utterly indifferent to the sufferings of individuals.

Resident Alien, Summer 1990 (1990)

It is my contention that artists, in whatever medium, produce flabbier work the more freedom they are given: all subtlety, all irony vanishes.

Resident Alien, Winter 1990 (1990)

It's no good running a pig farm badly for 30 years while saying, 'Really, I was meant to be a ballet dancer.' By then, pigs will be your style.


Never keep up with the Joneses; drag them down to your level. It's cheaper.


No flowers. No long faces standing around in the rain, staring down into a hole while someone drones on about how wonderful I was. I'd rather be shuffled off. Just drop me into one of those black plastic bags and leave me by the trash can.

Final interview with the Times (1999)

No one is boring who will tell the truth about himself.

Resident Alien, Foreword (1995)

On a day like today, I don't go out at all, and then I can remain wrapped in a filthy dressing gown, doing absolutely nothing. And someone said, "I don't think you should say that. Couldn't you say you meditate?" So I meditate.

Interview in 'The Onion'

Please feel free to quote me as saying anything that will promote sales of this excellent work.

Standard reply to any author requesting blurb for their work

Politics are not an instrument for effecting social change; they are the art of making the inevitable appear to be a matter of wise human choice.

Resident Alien, Autumn 1990 (1990)

Prejudice is like a cactus: it flourishes without any discernible source of nourishment.

Resident Alien, Summer 1992 (1992)

That which we can only maintain by force we should try to do without.

Resident Alien, Spring 1990 (1990)

The only benefit that can be derived by ordinary mortals from any of these vocations is that they present us with someone on whom we can focus our attention - even our passions - at least in a manner less fatuous than soccer.

On preachers, politicians and actors, in Resident Alien, Autumn 1990 (1990)

The phrase ['role models'] didn't exist when I was young, so originality flourished. Now uniformity is all the rage because everyone is encouraged to be like someone else, the future is held captive to the past since models must be sought in history, and the great must be trimmed to fit some standard... In short, role models are a mistake.

Resident Alien, Winter 1993 (1993)

The trouble with whatever is written from any angle about what is loosely called life is that it has all been said before.

Resident Alien, Winter 1994 (1994)

To my mind, the people who are lonely are those who do not know what to do with the time when they are alone.

Resident Alien, Spring 1992 (1992)

What do I have to recommend me to the world other than that I keep my word?

Resident Alien, Spring 1992 (1992)

What I want is to be accepted by other people without bevelling down my individuality to please them -- because if I do that, all the attention, all the friendship, all the hospitality that I receive is really for somebody else of the same name.

Resident Alien, Foreword (1995)

What many men feel convention is preventing them from expressing may not be some hideous piratical urge to rape or homicide, but the feminine side of their natures.

Resident Alien, Winter 1990 (1990)

What precious substance did we mine here? I think it was diversity without pretension -- a natural individuality not bolstered by claims of artistic achievement.

Resident Alien, Winter 1994 (1994)

When we say of anyone that he is boring, it is ourselves we are criticizing. We have not made ourselves into that wide, shallow vessel into which a stranger feels he can pour anything.

Resident Alien, Foreword (1995)

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