Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A collection of thoughts and quotations by Joseph Heller on humor, survival, war, death, mediocrity, ego, criticism, freedom, dreams, religion and life.

86 Notable Quotes By Joseph Heller

Famous As: Novelist

Born On: May 1, 1923

Died On: December 12, 1999

Born In: Brooklyn, New York

Died At Age: 76

Joseph Heller was an American playwright, short story writer and novelist who is considered to be one of the best known satirical novelists of the 20th century. Heller was born in a poor family and worked in odd jobs after high school, before serving in the US Army Air Corps from 1942. Heller however, had always been interested in writing and after studying English at NYU, Columbia University and then at Oxford under a Fulbright Scholarship, he enriched his knowledge on the language. Heller became a teacher and taught at several well-known universities and wrote stories in his spare time. Heller’s first story was published in the magazine ‘The Atlantic’ but it was in 1953 when his novel ‘Catch 22’ brought him mainstream success and the novel is still widely regarded as one of the finest satirical novels written in the English language. ‘Catch 22’ catapulted him to worldwide fame and remains his most famous work. Other notable novels written by Heller include, ‘Something Happened’, ‘Picture This’, ‘God Knows’, ‘Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man’ and ‘Closing Time’. Heller was a man of great wit and intelligence and his works still remain as the finest examples of modern satire. We have selected his most famous quotes from his collection of writings, novels, books, and are sure to inspire you besides tickling your funny bones. Have a look at the collection of quotations, thoughts and sayings by Joseph Heller.
Listed In:

He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.

Joseph Heller

Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.

Joseph Heller

...[A]nything worth dying for ... is certainly worth living for.

Joseph Heller

The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on.

Joseph Heller

Insanity is contagious.

Joseph Heller

He knew everything there was to know about literature, except how to enjoy it

Joseph Heller

[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.

Joseph Heller

It doesn't make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead.

Joseph Heller

Why are they going to disappear him?' I don't know.' It doesn't make sense. It isn't even good grammar.

Joseph Heller

The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.

Joseph Heller

The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likable. In three days no one could stand him.

Joseph Heller

Be glad you're even alive.' Be furious you're going to die.

Joseph Heller

I want to keep my dreams, even bad ones, because without them, I might have nothing all night long.

Joseph Heller

Every writer I know has trouble writing.

Joseph Heller

There is no disappointment so numbing...as someone no better than you achieving more.

Joseph Heller

When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don't see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.

Joseph Heller

Mankind is resilient: the atrocities that horrified us a week ago become acceptable tomorrow.

Joseph Heller

Well, he died. You don't get any older than that.

Joseph Heller

Morale was deteriorating and it was all Yossarian's fault. The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.

Joseph Heller

Destiny is a good thing to accept when it's going your way. When it isn't, don't call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery, or simple bad luck.

Joseph Heller

He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.

Joseph Heller

You know, that might be the answer – to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail.

Joseph Heller

What do you do when it rains?" The captain answered frankly. "I get wet.

Joseph Heller

He was never without misery, and never without hope.

Joseph Heller

Prostitution gives her an opportunity to meet people. It provides fresh air and wholesome exercise, and it keeps her out of trouble.

Joseph Heller

Let's take a drive into the middle of nowhere with a packet of Marlboro lights and talk about our lives.

Joseph Heller

He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt.

Joseph Heller

Where were you born?" "On a battlefield," [Yossarian] answered. "No, no. In what state were you born?" "In a state of innocence.

Joseph Heller

There was no telling what people might find out once they felt free to ask whatever questions they wanted to.

Joseph Heller

-You have no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions. You're dangerous and depraved, and you ought to be taken outside and shot!

Joseph Heller

She was the epitome of stately sorrow each time she smiled.

Joseph Heller

Clevinger had a mind, and Lieutenant Scheisskoph had noticed that people with minds tended to get pretty smart at times.

Joseph Heller

When I grow up I want to be a little boy.

Joseph Heller

Men," he began his address to the officers, measuring his pauses carefully. "You're American officers. The officers of no other army in the world can make that statement. Think about it.

Joseph Heller

I am miracle ingredient Z-247. I'm immense. I'm a real, slam-bang, honest-to-goodness, three-fisted humdinger. I'm a bona fide supraman.

Joseph Heller

I’m not running away from my responsibilities. I’m running to them. There’s nothing negative about running away to save my life.

Joseph Heller

When people disagreed with him he urged them to be objective.

Joseph Heller

Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity trust upon them.

Joseph Heller

Where are the snowdens of yesteryear?

Joseph Heller

Major Major never sees anyone in his office while he's in his office.

Joseph Heller

Who is Spain? Why is Hitler? Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?

Joseph Heller

For war there is always enough. It's peace that's expensive.

Joseph Heller

I wouldn't want to live without strong misgivings.

Joseph Heller

Rise above principal and do what's right.

Joseph Heller

You're an intelligent person of great moral character who has taken a very courageous stand. I'm an intelligent person with no moral character at all, so I'm in an ideal position to appreciate it.

Joseph Heller

Nately had a bad start. He came from a good family.

Joseph Heller

That crazy bastard may be the only sane one left.

Joseph Heller

He was sick with lust and mesmerized with regret

Joseph Heller

Death to all modifiers, he declared one day, and out of every letter that passed through his hands went every adverb and every adjective.

Joseph Heller

You wouldn’t be normal if you were never afraid. Even the bravest men experience fear. One of the biggest jobs we all face in combat is to overcome fear.

Joseph Heller

Something did happen to me somewhere that robbed me of confidence and courage and left me with a fear of discovery and change and a positive dread of everything unknown that may occur.

Joseph Heller

Like Olympic medals and tennis trophies, all they signified was that the owner had done something of no benefit to anyone more capably than everyone else.

Joseph Heller

While none of the work we do is very important, it is important that we do a great deal of it.

Joseph Heller

Someone had to do something sometime. Every victim was a culprit, every culprit a victim, and somebody had to stand up sometime to try to break the lousy chain of inherited habit that was imperiling them all.

Joseph Heller

He was one of those people with lots of intelligence but no brains

Joseph Heller

But how can one be warm alone?

Joseph Heller

Even among men lacking all distinction he inevitably stood out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.

Joseph Heller

When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering.

Joseph Heller

It made him proud that 29 months in the service had not blunted his genius for ineptitude.

Joseph Heller

Now you've given them hope, and they're unhappy. So the blame is all yours.

Joseph Heller

It doesn't make sense. It isn't even good grammar. What the hell does it mean when they disappear somebody?

Joseph Heller

In a world in which success was the only virtue, he had resigned himself to failure.

Joseph Heller

They couldn't keep Death out, but while she was in she had to act like a lady.

Joseph Heller

All through the night, men looked at the sky and were saddened by the stars.

Joseph Heller

Maybe a long life does have to be filled with many unpleasant conditions if it's to seem long. But in that event, who wants one?

Joseph Heller

That's another thing that pisses me off about that Michelangelo statue of me in Florence. He's got me standing there uncircumcised! Who the fuck did he think I was?

Joseph Heller

It's a wise person, I guess, who knows he's dumb, and an honest person who knows he's a liar. And it's a dumb person, I guess, whose convinced he's wise...-Bob Slocum

Joseph Heller

Under Colonel Korn's rule, the only people permitted to ask questions were those who never did.

Joseph Heller

That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed. It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

Joseph Heller

The night was full of horrors, and he thought he knew how Christ must have felt as he walked through the world, like a psychiatrist through a ward full of nuts.......

Joseph Heller

They’re not going to send a crazy man out to be killed, are they?” “Who else will go?

Joseph Heller

He made so many people uneasy. Everyone was always very friendly toward him, and no one was ever very nice; everyone spoke to him, and no one ever said anything.

Joseph Heller

Oh, Im not complaining. I know theres a war on. I know a lot of people are going to have to suffer for us to win it. But why must I be one of them?

Joseph Heller

But that was war. Just about all he could find in its favor was that it paid well and liberated children from the pernicious influence of their parents.

Joseph Heller

But Yossarian knew he was right, because, as he explained to Clevinger, to the best of his knowledge he had never been wrong.

Joseph Heller

People have a right to do anything that's not forbidden by law, and there's no law against lying to you.

Joseph Heller

Oh well," McWatt sang, "what the hell.

Joseph Heller

Maybe I am senile already and people are too kind to tell me. People are not kind and would tell me. (Maybe people have told me, and I'm too senile to remember).

Joseph Heller

I get the willies when I see closed doors.

Joseph Heller

It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.

Joseph Heller

The captain was a good chess player, and the games were always interesting. Yossarian had stopped playing chess with him because the games were so interesting they were foolish.

Joseph Heller

He could not make them understand that...having a good time bored him and was not worth the effort.

Joseph Heller

Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, meditation, medication, depression, neurosis and suicide. With failure comes failure.

Joseph Heller

Only Hungry Joe had something better to do each time he finished his missions. He had screaming nightmares and won fist fights with Huple's cat.

Joseph Heller

He was working hard at increasing his life span. He did it by cultivating boredom.

Joseph Heller

Nurse Duckett found Yossarian wonderful and was already trying to change him.

Joseph Heller