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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Richard Selzer Quotes

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Richard Selzer
(24 Jun 1928 - 15 Jun 2016)

American writer who had a private practice in general surgery (1960-86) while he contributed articles about his field to magazine such asHarper’s and Esquire. He was also an associate professor of surgery at the Yale University School of Medicine (1961-86). Upon retirement, he continued to write, and doubled his output of books.

Science Quotes by Richard Selzer (8 quotes)

I am just laboring in the vineyard. I am at the operating table, and I make my rounds. I believe there is a cross-fertilization between writing and surgery. If I withdraw from surgery, I would not have another word to write. Having become a writer makes me a better doctor.
[Reply to reporter's question whether he would rather be a full-time writer instead of a surgeon.]
— Richard Selzer
Quoted in Thomas Lask, 'Publishing:Surgeon and Incisive Writer', New York Times (28 Sep 1979), C24.
Science quotes on:  |  Become (815)  |  Better (486)  |  Doctor (187)  |  Fertilization (15)  |  Operating Table (2)  |  Question (621)  |  Reply (56)  |  Surgeon (63)  |  Surgery (51)  |  Table (104)  |  Time (1877)  |  Withdraw (9)  |  Word (619)  |  Write (230)  |  Writer (86)  |  Writing (189)

I came by the horror naturally. Surgery is the one branch of medicine that is the most violent. After all, it’s violent to take up a knife and cut open a person’s body and rummage around with your hands. I think I was attracted to the horrific.
— Richard Selzer
As quoted in Randy Hutter Epstein, 'Richard Selzer, Who Fictionalized Medicine’s Absurdity and Gore, Dies at 87', New York Times (15 Jun 2016). Explaining why his first fiction writing was horror stories.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Attracted (3)  |  Body (537)  |  Branch (150)  |  Cut (114)  |  Hand (143)  |  Horror (14)  |  Knife (23)  |  Medicine (378)  |  Most (1731)  |  Natural (796)  |  Open (274)  |  Person (363)  |  Surgery (51)  |  Think (1086)  |  Violent (17)

I don’t dawdle. I'm a surgeon. I make an incision, do what needs to be done and sew up the wound. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end.
[On writing.]
— Richard Selzer
Quoted in Thomas Lask, 'Publishing:Surgeon and Incisive Writer', New York Times (28 Sep 1979), C24.
Science quotes on:  |  Beginning (305)  |  Do (1908)  |  End (590)  |  Incision (2)  |  Middle (16)  |  Planning (20)  |  Productivity (21)  |  Sewing (3)  |  Surgeon (63)  |  Wound (26)  |  Writer (86)  |  Writing (189)

It is Surgery that, long after it has passed into obsolescence, will be remembered as the glory of Medicine.
— Richard Selzer
In Letters to a Young Doctor (1982), 51.
Science quotes on:  |  Glory (58)  |  Long (790)  |  Medicine (378)  |  Obsolescence (4)  |  Pass (238)  |  Remember (179)  |  Surgery (51)  |  Will (2355)

Red is the color in which the interior of the body is painted. If an operation be thought of as a painting in progress, and blood red the color on the brush, it must be suitably restrained and attract no undue attention; yet any insufficiency of it will increase the perishability of the canvas.
— Richard Selzer
In 'Letter to a Young Surgeon II', Letters to a Young Doctor (1996), 47.
Science quotes on:  |  Attention (190)  |  Attraction (56)  |  Blood (134)  |  Body (537)  |  Brush (5)  |  Canvas (3)  |  Color (137)  |  Increase (210)  |  Insufficiency (3)  |  Interior (32)  |  Must (1526)  |  Operation (213)  |  Painting (44)  |  Progress (465)  |  Red (35)  |  Suitability (11)  |  Thought (953)  |  Undue (4)  |  Will (2355)

Surgery is the red flower that blooms among the leaves and thorns that are the rest of medicine.
— Richard Selzer
In Letters to a Young Doctor (1982), 51.
Science quotes on:  |  Bloom (9)  |  Flower (106)  |  Leaf (66)  |  Medicine (378)  |  Red (35)  |  Rest (280)  |  Surgery (51)  |  Thorn (5)

You are in service to your patients, and a servant should know his place.
— Richard Selzer
In Letters to a Young Doctor (1982), 53.
Science quotes on:  |  Know (1518)  |  Patient (199)  |  Place (177)  |  Servant (39)  |  Service (110)

[When his physician father died of a heart attack:] It was then and there that I gave myself to medicine the way a monk gives himself to God. Not to have done so would have seemed an act of filial impiety. Since I could not find him in the flesh, I would find him in the work he did.
— Richard Selzer
In Down From Troy: A Doctor Comes of Age (1992), 136.
Science quotes on:  |  Act (272)  |  Attack (84)  |  Biography (240)  |  Career (75)  |  Father (110)  |  Find (998)  |  Flesh (27)  |  God (757)  |  Heart (229)  |  Himself (461)  |  Medicine (378)  |  Monk (5)  |  Myself (212)  |  Physician (273)  |  Way (1217)  |  Work (1351)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 40 -
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