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quotations about eccentricity

The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time.

JOHN STUART MILL, On Liberty and Other Essays

Properly, eccentricity is not so much a component of genius, as it is a consequence of the habits of men of genius. The reputation for genius is usually acquired by severe and protracted intellectual labor. This occasions repeated reactions from an extreme tension to an extreme relaxation of spirits--the transitions expressing themselves in sharp and abrupt impulses.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell

A man should be himself at all times; eccentricities, and even inaccuracies, are more tolerable than mimicry, affectation, and false consequences.

SAMUEL HANSON COX, Quakerism Not Christianity; Or, Reasons for Renouncing the Doctrine of Friends

I am not eccentric. It's just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of catfish.

EDITH SITWELL, The English Eccentrics

Eccentrics are invariably social failures--at least if we use the word failure in its conventional sense. At best the world fails to take them seriously, and at worst it ridicules them. Eccentrics also tend to be financial failures, due in part, no doubt, to their lack of social standing. When eccentrics prosper, there are generally two explanations: either they inherited a fortune or they found a way to get rewarded for their obsessive behavior.


Eccentric men have peculiar habits; they do not seem to move in the same sphere with other mortals, but are actuated by different influences from those which affect the bulk of mankind.

GEORGE FREDERICK GRAHAM, English Synonyms Classified and Explained

Eccentrics are ridiculed from a distance, but gain respect the more you know them.

ISAAC CHEIFETZ, Hiring Secrets of the NFL

All eccentricities are defects of natural character.

NORMAN MACDONALD, Maxims and Moral Reflections

In all communities where vice and hypocrisy are sustained by the authority of custom, eccentricity is a moral duty.


Eccentricity is sometimes found connected with genius, but it does not coalesce with true wisdom. Hence men of the first order of intellect have never betrayed it; and hence also men of secondary talents drop it as they grow wiser; they are content to awaken regard and obtain applause by the rectitude and gracefulness of their going, rather than to make passengers stare and laugh, by leaping over the wall or tumbling along the road.

WILLIAM JAY, preface, Standard Works of the Rev. William Jay

Of course eccentrics are happy, they're loony toons. They don't know they aren't supposed to be anything but joyous.

JAN HORNUNG, This Is the Truth, as Far as I Know: I Could Be Wrong

The English like eccentrics. They just don't like them living next door.

JULIAN CLARY, Daily Telegraph, Sep. 2, 1992

Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.


Those with the money are eccentric. Those without, insane.

BRUCE ROBINSON, Withnail and I


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