Quotations about   taste

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If an epigram takes up a page, you skip it:
     Art counts for nothing, you prefer the snippet.
The markets have been ransacked for you, reader,
     Rich fare — and you want canapes instead!
I’m not concerned with the fastidious feeder:
     Give me the man who likes his basic bread.

[Consumpta est uno si lemmate pagina, transis,
Et breviora tibi, non meliora placent.
Dives et ex omni posita est instructa macello
Cena tibi, sed te mattea sola iuvat.
Non opus est nobis nimium lectore guloso;
Hunc volo, non fiat qui sine pane satur.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 59 (10.59) [tr. Michie (1972)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

If one sole epigram takes up a page,
You turn it o'er, and will not there engage:
Consulting not its worth, but your dear ease;
And not what's good, but what is short, does please.
I serve a feast with all the richest fare
The market yields; for tarts you only care.
My books not fram'd such liq'rish guests to treat,
But such as relish bread, and solid meat.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

If one small theme exhaust a page,
'Though fli'st upon the wings of rage,
To fewer words, tho' not more fine;
And met'st my matter, by the line.
A rich repast, from ev'ry stall,
We see upon thy palate pall.
We fear a sickly appetite,
Where tid-bits onely can delight.
Out oh! may I receive no guest
Who picks the tiny for the best.
His taste wills tand him more to sted,
Who makes no meal up without bread.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 3, ep. 11]

If one subject occupies a whole page, you pass over it; short epigrams, rather than good ones, seem to please you. A rich repast, consisting of every species of dish, is set before you, out only dainty bits gratify your taste. I do not covet a reader with such an over-nice palate; I want one that is not content to make a meal without bread.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You have no patience for the page-long skit,
Your taste is ruled by brevity, not wit.
Ransack the mart, make you a banquet rare,
You'll pick the titbit from the bill of fare;
I have no use for suchy a dainty guest;
Who ekes his dinner out with bread is best.
[tr. Street (1907)]

If a column is taken up by a single subject, you skip it, and the shorter epigrams please you, not the better. A meal, rich and furnished from every market, has been placed before you, but only a dainty attracts you. I have no need of a reader too nice: I want him who is not satisfied without bread.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You like the shortest poems, not the best,
Tis those you always read -- and skip the rest;
I spread a varied banquet for your taste,
You take made dishes and the rest you waste.
And wrong your appetite, for truth to tell
A satisfying meal needs bread as well.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

You've read one epigram; the rest you skip;
Shortness, not sweetness suits your censorship.
A whole rich mart's outspread before your feet;
And yet a small tit-bit's your only treat.
I want no gluttonous reader, no, indeed!
Still I prefer one who on bread can feed.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924) ep. 554]

If a poem of mine fills up a page,
You pass it by. You'd rather read
The shorter, not the better ones.
A fear to answer every need,

Rich and varied, and supplied
With many viands widely drawn
From every shop is offered you,
And yet you glance at it with scorn,

The dainties only pleasing you.
Fussy reader, away! Instead
Give me a guest who with his meal
Must have some homely peasant bread.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

A whole damned page crammed with verse -- so you yawn!
     If a poem's too long you move swiftly on;
"Shorter the better!" is your golden rule.
     But markets are scoured to make the tongue drool;
A groaning board's set -- rich sauces for days --
     And yet, dear reader, you want canapés?
But I don't hunger for diners so prude:
     Hail meat and potatoes -- screw finger food!
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

If just one poem fills a page, you skip it.
     The short ones please you, not the best. I serve
a lavish dinner culled from every market,
     but you are only pleased with the hors d'oeuvre.
A finicky reader's not for me; instead,
     I want one who's not full without some bread.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 16-Sep-22 | Last updated 16-Sep-22
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I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist

Quoted in Edgar Saltus, Oscar Wilde: An Idler's Impression (1917), as a comment made to him by Wilde.

Also attributed to Winston Churchill, with less foundation.

For more discussion about this quotation: I Have the Simplest Tastes; I Am Always Satisfied with the Best – Quote Investigator.
Added on 27-Jul-22 | Last updated 27-Jul-22
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Very nice sort of place, Oxford, I should think, for people that like that sort of place.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Man and Superman, Act 2 [Straker] (1903)

See Lincoln.
Added on 20-May-22 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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Bacon is so good by itself that to put it in any other food is an admission of failure. You’re basically saying, “I can’t make this other food taste good, so I’ll throw in bacon.”

Penn Jillette (b. 1955) American stage magician, actor, musician, author
Quoted in Adam Boult, “Why We Love Eating Meat,” Telegraph (13 Jun 2016)
Added on 25-Sep-20 | Last updated 25-Sep-20
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The humanist has four leading characteristics — curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“George and Gide” Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)
Added on 15-Apr-20 | Last updated 15-Apr-20
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These things are good in little measure and evil in large; yeast, salt, and hesitation.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth 34a

Alt. trans.: "Our Rabbis taught: If one is asked to pass before the Ark, he ought to refuse, and if he does not refuse he resembles a dish without salt; but if he persists too much in refusing he resembles a dish which is over-salted. How should he act? The first time he should refuse; the second time he should hesitate; the third time he should stretch out his legs and go down. Our Rabbis taught: There are three things of which one may easily have too much while a little is good, namely, yeast, salt, and refusal."

Alt. trans.: "There are three things that are harmful in excess but are beneficial when used sparingly. They are: Leavening in dough, salt in a cooked dish and refusal for the sake of propriety." [William Davidson Talmud]

Alt. trans.: "There are three things of which you may easily have too much, while a little is good: yeast, salt, and hesitation." [Joshua of the South, Berakot 5.3]

Alt trans.: "Three things are disagreeable when used in excess, and pleasant when moderately indulged in: yeast, salt, and hesitancy in accepting proffered honours." [Paul Isaac Hershon, The Pentateuch According to the Talmud: Genesis, Part 1, Genesis 19:26, Synoptical Notes: "Salt"]
Added on 13-Jul-17 | Last updated 13-Jul-17
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Kissing is disgusting. But in a nice way, like blue cheese or brandy.

Bryan Fuller (b. 1969) American screenwriter, television producer
American Gods 1×03 “A Head Full of Snow” [Zorya Polunochnaya] (14 May 2017) [with Michael Green, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman]
Added on 23-May-17 | Last updated 23-May-17
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While I’m having these grim thoughts, I notice that my martini glass is nearly empty. It’s not a terribly endearing drink — it tastes like something that got hosed off a runway, then diluted with antifreeze — but it does what it says on the label.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Jennifer Morgue (2006)
Added on 17-Jan-17 | Last updated 17-Jan-17
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One could not blame a people for disliking vampires. Vampires were like Brussels sprouts — not for everyone and impossible to improve upon with sauce.

Gail Carriger (b. 1976) American archaeologist, author [pen name of Tofa Borregaard]
Prudence (2015)
Added on 8-Dec-16 | Last updated 8-Dec-16
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Alas, irreverence has been subsumed by mere grossness, at least in the so-called mass media. What we have now — to quote myself at my most pretentious — is a nimiety of scurrility with a concomitant exiguity of taste. For example, the freedom (hooray!) to say almost anything you want on television about society’s problems has been co-opted (alas!) by the freedom to talk instead about flatulence, orgasms, genitalia, masturbation, etc., etc., and to replace real comment with pop-culture references and so-called “adult” language. Irreverence is easy — what’s hard is wit.

Lehrer - whats hard is wit - wist_info quote

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
Rhino Records online chat (17 Jun 1997)
Added on 21-Jan-16 | Last updated 21-Jan-16
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What nobody tells people who are beginners, and I really wish someone had told this to me, is that […] all of us who do creative work, we get into it, and we get into because we have good taste. […] But you get into this thing […] and there’s a gap. For the first couple of years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. That you can tell it’s still sort of crappy. A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people at that point, they quit. […] The thing I want to tell you is, everybody goes through that. […] It’s totally normal. And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. […] Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. […] It’s going to take you awhile. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.

Ira Glass (b. 1959) American report, radio personality, producer
“This American Life,” Public Radio International (Aug 2009)
Added on 12-Oct-15 | Last updated 12-Oct-15
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For if he wou’d try effectually to acquire the real Science or TASTE of Life; he wou’d certainly discover, “That a RIGHT MIND, and GENEROUS AFFECTION, had more Beauty and Charm, than all other Symmetrys in the World besides.”

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Vol. 3, “Miscellany III,” ch. 3 (1711)
Added on 23-Jan-15 | Last updated 23-Jan-15
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All luxury corrupts either the morals or the taste.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 15-Apr-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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The true barbarian is he who thinks every thing barbarous but his own tastes and prejudices.

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English writer
Characteristics, #333 (1823)
Added on 6-Oct-09 | Last updated 29-Sep-20
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Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Man and Superman, “Maxims for Revolutionists,” “The Golden Rule” (1903)

See Matthew.

Added on 17-Jun-08 | Last updated 23-Oct-15
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There is nothing more fearful than imagination without taste.

[Es ist nichts furchterlicher als Einbildungskraft ohne Geschmack.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Spruche in Prosa [Proverbs in Prose], 3 (1819)
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People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)

One of the earliest references to something like this was in an 1863 newspaper ad for Lincoln’s favorite humorist, Artemus Ward, that included this faux testimonial (possibly written by Ward): “I have never heard any of your lectures, but from what I can learn I should say that for people who like the kind of lectures you deliver, they are just the kind of lectures such people like. Yours respectfully, O. Abe.”

Quoted in G.W.E. Russell, Collections and Recollections, ch. 30 (1898), regarding “an unreadably sentimental book.”

According to Anthony Gross, Lincoln’s Own Stories (1902), Lincoln’s was speaking to Robert Dale Owen, who had insisted on reading to Lincoln a long manuscript on spiritualism. "Well, for those who like that sort of thing, I should think it is just about the sort of thing they would like."

In Emanual Hertz, ed., "Father Abraham," Lincoln Talks: A Biography in Anecdote (1939), the response was to a young poet asking him about his newly published poems.

More discussion of this quotation: Ralph Keyes, The Quote Verifier.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-May-22
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In literature, as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.

[En littérature comme en amour, on est surpris par les choix des autres.]

Maurois - In literature, as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others - wist.info quote

André Maurois (1885-1967) French author [b. Émile Salomon Wilhelm Herzog]
The Art of Living [Un Art de Vivre], ch. 6 “The Art of Working” (1939) [tr. Whitall (1940)]

(Source (French)). Sometimes cited to the New York Times, but only because it was reprinted there in the article “Reading Matter: Some Bookish Quotes” (14 Apr 1963).
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Matters of religion should never be matters of controversy. We neither argue with a lover about his taste, not condemn him, if we are just, for knowing so human a passion.

George Santayana (1863-1952) Spanish-American poet and philosopher [Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruíz de Santayana y Borrás]
The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress, Vol. 3 “Reason in Religion,” ch. 6 “The Christian Epic” (1905-06)
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My own belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
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