What is food to one man is bitter poison to others.
—Lucretius (c.99–55 BCE) Roman Epicurean Poet, Philosopher
A style does not go out of style as long as it adapts itself to its period. When there is an incompatibility between the style and a certain state of mind, it is never the style that triumphs.
—Coco Chanel (1883–1971) French Fashion Designer
Any style formed in imitation of some model must be affected and straight-laced.
—Edwin Percy Whipple (1819–86) American Literary Critic
Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness.
—Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) Spanish Painter, Sculptor, Artist
For a long time I found the celebrities of modern painting and poetry ridiculous. I loved absurd pictures, fanlights, stage scenery, mountebanks backcloths, inn-signs, cheap colored prints; unfashionable literature, church Latin, pornographic books badly spelt, grandmothers novels, fairy stories, little books for children, old operas, empty refrains, simple rhythms.
—Arthur Rimbaud (1854–91) French Poet, Adventurer
One of the surest evidences of an elevated taste is the power of enjoying works of impassioned terrorism, in poetry, and painting. The man who can look at impassioned subjects of terror with a feeling of exultation may be certain he has an elevated taste.
—Benjamin Haydon (1786–1846) English Painter, Writer
The obscurity of a writer is generally in proportion to his incapacity.
—Quintilian (c.35–c.100 CE) Roman Rhetorician, Literary Critic
My tastes are aristocratic, my actions democratic.
—Victor Hugo (1802–85) French Novelist
Style is knowing who you are, what to say, and not giving a damn.
—Gore Vidal (1925–48) American Novelist, Essayist, Journalist, Playwright
Lovers of painting and lovers of music are people who openly display their preference like a delectable ailment that isolates them and makes them proud.
—Maurice Blanchot (1907–2003) French Novelist, Critic
Errors of taste are very often the outward sign of a deep fault of sensibility.
—Jonathan Miller (1934–2019) English Theatre Director, Author
If I am ever obscure in my expressions, do not fancy that therefore I am deep. If I were really deep, all the world would understand, though they might not appreciate. The perfectly popular style is the perfectly scientific one. To me an obscurity is a reason for suspecting a fallacy.
—Charles Kingsley (1819–75) English Clergyman, Academic, Historian, Novelist
I hate a style that is wholly flat and regular, that slides along like an eel, and never rises to what one can call an inequality.
—William Shenstone (1714–63) British Poet, Landscape Gardener
Redundancy of language is never found with deep reflection. Verbiage may indicate observation, but not thinking. He who thinks much, says but little in proportion to his thoughts. He selects that language which will convey his ideas in the most explicit and direct manner. He tries to compress as much thought as possible into a few words. On the contrary, the man who talks everlastingly and promiscuously, who seems to have an exhaustless magazine of sound, crowds so many words into his thoughts that he always obscures, and very frequently conceals them.
—Washington Irving (1783–1859) American Essayist, Biographer, Historian
The old prose writers wrote as if they were speaking to an audience; among us, prose is invariably written for the eye alone.
—Barthold G. Niebuhr (1776–1831) Danish-German Statesman, Banker, Historian
Style is not neutral; it gives moral directions.
—Martin Amis (b.1949) British Novelist, Journalist
The hard truth is that what may be acceptable in elite culture may not be acceptable in mass culture, that tastes which pose only innocent ethical issues as the property of a minority become corrupting when they become more established. Taste is context, and the context has changed.
—Susan Sontag (1933–2004) American Writer, Philosopher
Obscurity in writing is commonly a proof of darkness in the mind; the greatest learning is to be seen in the greatest plainness.
—John Wilkins (1614–72) English Anglican Clergyman, Author, Administrator
Style may be defined, “proper words in proper places.”
—Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) Irish Satirist
He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.
—Walt Whitman (1819–92) American Poet, Essayist, Journalist, American, Poet, Essayist, Journalist
Talent, taste, wit, good sense are very different things but by no means incompatible. Between good sense and good taste there exists the same difference as between cause and effect, and between wit and talent there is the same proportion as between a whole and its parts.
—Jean de La Bruyere (1645–96) French Satiric Moralist, Author
The least degree of ambiguity, which leaves the mind in suspense as to the meaning, ought to be avoided with the greatest care.
—Hugh Blair (1718–1800) Scottish Preacher, Scholar, Critic
To me style is just the outside of content, and content the inside of style, like the outside and the inside of the human body — both go together, they can’t be separated.
—Jean-luc Godard (b.1930) French-born Swiss Film Director, Film Critic
Without taste genius is only a sublime kind of folly. That sure touch which the lyre gives back the right note and nothing more, is even a rarer gift than the creative faculty itself.
—Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand (1768–1848) French Writer, Academician, Statesman