Tell me not of the fire and the worm, and the blackness and darkness of hell.—To my terrified conscience there is hell enough in this representation of it, that it is the common sewer of all that is abominable and abandoned and reckless as to principle, and depraved as to morals, the one common eddy where all things that are polluted and wretched and filthy are gathered together.
—Francis Beaumont (1584–1616) English Elizabethan Dramatist
It is an open question whether any behavior based on fear of eternal punishment can be regarded as ethical or should be regarded as merely cowardly.
—Margaret Mead (1901–78) American Anthropologist, Social Psychologist
Those who promise us paradise on earth never produced anything but a hell.
—Karl Popper (1902–94) Austrian-born British Philosopher
One cannot walk through an assembly factory and not feel that one is in Hell.
—W. H. Auden (1907–73) British-born American Poet, Dramatist
Hell is oneself, hell is alone, the other figures in it merely projections. There is nothing to escape from and nothing to escape to. One is always alone.
—T. S. Eliot (1888–1965) American-born British Poet, Dramatist, Literary Critic
The hell of these days is the fear of not getting along, especially of not making money.
—Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) Scottish Historian, Essayist
A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell.
—George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) Irish Playwright
One of the horrors of hell is the undying memory of a misspent life.
And what have you laymen made of hell? A kind of penal servitude for eternity, on the lines of your convict prisons on earth, to which you condemn in advance all the wretched felons your police have hunted from the beginning—“enemies of society,” as you call them. You’re kind enough to include the blasphemers and the profane. What proud or reasonable man could stomach such a notion of God’s justice? And when you find that notion inconvenient it’s easy enough for you to put it on one side. Hell is not to love any more, Madame. Not to love any more!
—Georges Bernanos (1888–1948) French Author
Hell is paved with great granite blocks hewn from the hearts of those who said, “I can do no other.”
—Heywood Broun (1888–1939) American Journalist
I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way.
—Robert Frost (1874–1963) American Poet
Of all the inhabitants of the inferno, none but Lucifer knows that hell is hell, and the secret function of purgatory is to make of heaven an effective reality.
—Arnold Bennett (1867–1931) British Novelist, Playwright, Critic
The gates of Hell are open night and day; smooth the descent, and easy is the way: but, to return, and view the cheerful skies; in this, the task and mighty labor lies.
—Virgil (70–19 BCE) Roman Poet
When I go to hell, I mean to carry a bribe: for look you, good gifts evermore make way for the worst persons.
—John Webster (1580–1634) English Dramatist, Poet
Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscrib’d one self place; for where we are is Hell, and where Hell is, there must we ever be.
—Christopher Marlowe (1564–93) English Playwright, Poet, Translator
Here is the difference between Dante, Milton, and me. They wrote about hell and never saw the place. I wrote about Chicago after looking the town over for years and years.
—Carl Sandburg (1878–1967) American Biographer, Novelist, Socialist
To be in a world which is a hell, to be of that world and neither to believe in or guess at anything but that world is not merely hell but the only possible damnation: the act of a man damning himself. It may be—I hope it is—redemption to guess and perhaps perceive that the universe, the hell which we see for all its beauty, vastness, majesty, is only part of a whole which is quite unimaginable.
—William Golding (1911–93) English Novelist
So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the burning marl. Old wives’ tales!There’s no need for red-hot pokers. HELL IS—OTHER PEOPLE!
—Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–80) French Philosopher, Playwright, Novelist, Screenwriter, Political Activist
It does not require a decision to go to hell.
In the utmost solitudes of nature the existence of hell seems to me as legibly declared, by a thousand spiritual utterances, as that of heaven.
—John Ruskin (1819–1900) English Writer, Art Critic
I believe that I am in hell, therefore I am there.
—Arthur Rimbaud (1854–91) French Poet, Adventurer
Hell is a half-filled auditorium.
—Robert Frost (1874–1963) American Poet
The safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
—C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) Irish-born British Academic, Author, Literary Scholar
The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.
—Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–68) American Civil Rights Leader, Clergyman
Men might go to heaven with half the labor they put forth to go to hell, if they would but venture their industry in the right way.
—Ben Jonson (1572–1637) English Dramatist, Poet, Actor
I cannot help thinking that the menace of Hell makes as many devils as the severe penal codes of inhuman humanity make villains.
—Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron) (1788–1824) English Romantic Poet
The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.
—A. W. Tozer (1897–1963) American Christian Pastor, Preacher, Author, Editor
There sighs, lamentations and loud wailings resounded through the starless air, so that at first it made me weep; strange tongues, horrible language, words of pain, tones of anger, voices loud and hoarse, and with these the sound of hands, made a tumult which is whirling through that air forever dark, and sand eddies in a whirlwind.
—Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) Italian Poet, Philosopher
For mortal men there is but one hell, and that is the folly and wickedness and spite of his fellows; but once his life is over, there’s an end to it: his annihilation is final and entire, of him nothing survives.
—Marquis de Sade (1740–1814) French Political leader, Revolutionary, Novelist, Poet, Critic
Hell is out of fashion—institutional hells at any rate. The populated infernos of the 20th century are more private affairs, the gaps between the bars are the sutures of one’s own skull. A valid hell is one from which there is a possibility of redemption, even if this is never achieved, the dungeons of an architecture of grace whose spires point to some kind of heaven. The institutional hells of the present century are reached with one-way tickets, marked Nagasaki and Buchenwald, worlds of terminal horror even more final than the grave.
—J. G. Ballard (1930–2009) English Novelist, Short Story Writer