George Jean Nathan

American drama critic and magazine editor (1882–1958)

George Jean Nathan (February 14, 1882 – April 8, 1958) was an American drama critic and editor. He worked closely with H.L. Mencken, bringing the literary magazine The Smart Set to prominence as an editor, and co-founding and editing The American Mercury and The American Spectator.

George Jean Nathan in 1928


  • The path of sound credence is through the thick forest of skepticism.
    • Materia Critica (1924)
  • Great art is as irrational as great music. It is mad with its own loveliness.
    • From his book House of Satan (1926)
  • The test of a real comedian is whether you laugh at him before he opens his mouth.
  • I have no patriotism, for patriotism, as I see it, is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles.
    • Testament of a Critic (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1931), p. 16
  • The great problems of the world - social, political, economic and theological - do not concern me in the slightest...If all the Armenians were to be killed tomorrow and if half of Russia were to starve to death the day after, it would not matter to me in the least. What concerns me alone is myself and the interests of a few close friends.
    • Living Authors, H. W. Wilson (1932)
  • One does not go to the theater to see life and nature; one goes to see the particular way in which life and nature happen to look to a cultivated, imaginative and entertaining man who happens, in turn, to be a playwright.
    • Lumley, Frederick (1972). New Trends in 20th Century Drama: A Survey Since Ibsen and Shaw. London: Barrie and Jenkins. pp. 12. ISBN 978-0-19-519680-1. 
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