Money, Money, Money

Writers have grappled with it and scrambled for it. It’s been called the root of all evil and the enemy of friendship. Aspirational, inspirational, or downright spiteful, here are the best and bitterest musings on wealth and money gathered from our favorite writers and thinkers, many of them Haves, most of them Have-Nots.

He only is rich who owns the day.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude

Dad said I would always be “high minded and low waged” from reading too much Ralph Waldo Emerson. Maybe he was right.
—Jim Harrison, The English Major

To kill a relative of whom you are tired is something. But to inherit his property afterwards, that is genuine pleasure.
—Honoré de Balzac, Le Cousin Pons

If you observe, people always live forever when there is an annuity to be paid them.
—Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Mother, Father,
so young, so hot, so jazzy,
so like Zelda and Scott
with drinks and cigarettes and turbans
and designer slacks and frizzy permanents
and all that dough,
what do you say to me now,
here at my sweaty desk in 1971?
—Anne Sexton, “The Money Swing”

A poem is my money. . . . My poem is my property, like my lawn.
—Eileen Myles, “Times I’ve Got Paid”

Quarterly, is it, money reproaches me:
“Why do you let me lie here wastefully?
I am all you never had of goods and sex,
You could get them still by writing a few cheques.”
—Philip Larkin, “Money”

There’s always something to do if you don’t have to work or consider the cost. It’s no real fun but the rich don’t know that. They never had any. They never want anything very hard except maybe somebody else’s wife and that’s a pretty pale desire compared with the way a plumber’s wife wants new curtains for the living room.
—Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

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