Margaret Atwood, fully Margaret Eleanor Atwood

Margaret
Atwood, fully Margaret Eleanor Atwood
1939

Canadian Author, Poet, Critic, Essayist and Environmental Activist

Author Quotes

We want to get there faster. Get where? Wherever we are not. But a human soul can only go as fast as a man can walk, they used to say. In that case, where are all the souls? Left behind. They wander here and there, slowly, dim lights flickering in the marshes at night, looking for us. But they're not nearly fast enough, not for us, we're way ahead of them, they'll never catch up. That's why we can go so fast: our souls don't weigh us down.

What Elizabethan playwrights learned from the Greek classics was not theories of insanity, but dramatic practice ? that is, madness is a dandy theatrical element. It focuses the audience's attention and increases suspense, since you never know what a mad person may get up to next; and Shakespeare himself makes use of it in many forms. In King Lear, there's a scene in which one man pretending to be mad, another who has really gone mad, and a third who has probably always been a little addled, are brought together for purposes of comparison, irony, pathos, and tour de force acting. In Hamlet, there are two variations ? Hamlet himself, who assumes madness, and Ophelia, who really does go winsomely bonkers. In MacBeth, it's Lady MacBeth who snaps.

What we prayed for was emptiness, so we would be worthy to be filled: with grace, with love, with self-denial, semen and babies.

To want is to have a weakness.

War is what happens when language fails.

We immortals aren't misers - we don't hoard! Such things are pointless.

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.

What else can I do? Once you've gone this far you aren't fit for anything else. Something happens to your mind. You're overqualified, overspecialized, and everybody knows it. Nobody in any other game would be crazy enough to hire me. I wouldn't even make a good ditch-digger, I'd start tearing apart the sewer-system, trying to pick-axe and unearth all those chthonic symbols - pipes, valves, cloacal conduits... No, no. I'll have to be a slave in the paper-mines for all time.

Toast is me. I am toast.

Wars happen because the ones who start them think they can win.

We lived in the gaps between the stories.

We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability?

What fabrications they are, mothers. Scarecrows, wax dolls for us to stick pins into, crude diagrams. We deny them an existence of their own, we make them up to suit ourselves -- our own hungers, our own wishes, our own deficiencies.

Toast is when you take a piece of bread?What is bread? Bread is when you take some flour?What is flour? We?ll skip that part, it?s too complicated. Bread is something you can eat, made from a ground-up plant and shaped like a stone. You cook it... Please, why do you cook it? Why don?t you just eat the plant? Never mind that part?Pay attention. You cook it, and then you cut it into slices, and you put a slice into a toaster, which is a metal box that heats up with electricity?What is electricity? Don?t worry about that.

Was every Heathcliff a Linton in disguise?

We lived, as usual by ignoring. Ignoring isn't the same as ignorance; you have to work at it.

We'll choose knowledge no matter what, we'll maim ourselves in the process, we'll stick our hands into the flames for it if necessary. Curiosity is not our only motive; love or grief or despair or hatred is what drives us on. We'll spy relentlessly on the dead; we'll open their letters, we'll read their journals, we'll go through their trash, hoping for a hint, a final word, an explanation, from those who have deserted us--who've left us holding the bag, which is often a good deal emptier than we'd supposed.

What fiendishness went on in kitchens across the country, in the name of providing food!

Toast was a pointless invention from the Dark Ages. Toast was an implement of torture that caused all those subjected to it to regurgitate in verbal form the sins and crimes of their past lives. Toast was a ritual item devoured by fetishists in the belief that it would enhance their kinetic and sexual powers. Toast cannot be explained by any rational means. Toast is me. I am toast.

Was this a betrayal, or was it an act of courage? Perhaps both. Neither one involves forethought: such things take place in an instant, in an eye-blink. This can only be because they have been rehearsed by us already, over and over, in silence and darkness; in such silence, such darkness, that we are ignorant of them ourselves. Blind but sure-footed, we step forward as if into a remembered dance.

We love each other, that?s true whatever it means, but we aren?t good at it; for some it?s a talent, for others only an addiction.

Well, maybe I'm a latent homosexual. He considered that for a moment. Or maybe I'm a latent heterosexual. Anyway, I'm pretty latent. I don't know why. Of course, I've taken a number of stabs at it, but then I start thinking about the futility of it all and I give up. Maybe it's because you're expected to do something and after a certain point all I want to do is lie there and stare at the ceiling.

What he really wanted was revenge. But against whom, and for what? Even if he had the energy for it, even if he could focus and aim, such a thing would be less than useless.

Time folds you in its arms and gives you one last kiss, and then it flattens you out and folds you up and tucks you away until it's time for you to become someone else's past time, and then time folds again.

Today I speak to my bones as I would speak to a dog. I want to go up the stairs, I tell them. Up, up, up, with one leg dragging. Is the ache deep in the bones, this elusive pain? Does that mean it will rain? Good bones, good bones, I coax, wondering how to reward them; if they will sit up for me, beg, roll over, do one more trick, once more. There. We're at the top. Good bones! Good bones! Keep on going.

Author Picture
First Name
Margaret
Last Name
Atwood, fully Margaret Eleanor Atwood
Birth Date
1939
Bio

Canadian Author, Poet, Critic, Essayist and Environmental Activist