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86 Notable Quotes By Joseph Heller

Famous As: Best Known for His Novel "Catch-22."
Born On: May 1, 1923
Died On: December 12, 1999
Born In: Coney Island, New York, United States
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.
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He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.

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.

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.

...[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.

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

Joseph Heller
Insanity is contagious.

Insanity is contagious.

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

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.

[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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Every writer I know has trouble writing.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

Joseph Heller
Where were you born?

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

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!

-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.

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.

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.

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

Joseph Heller
Men,

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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?

Where are the snowdens of yesteryear?

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

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

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

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

Joseph Heller
I wouldn't want to live without strong misgivings.

I wouldn't want to live without strong misgivings.

Joseph Heller
Rise above principal and do what's right.

Rise above principal and do what's right.

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.

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'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.

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.

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

Joseph Heller
That crazy bastard may be the only sane one left.

That crazy bastard may be the only sane one left.

Joseph Heller
He was sick with lust and mesmerized with regret

He was sick with lust and mesmerized with regret

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Joseph Heller
But how can one be warm alone?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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?

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?

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

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.

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,

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.......

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?

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.

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?

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

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

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.

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.

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
Oh well,

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Joseph Heller