Margaret Atwood, fully Margaret Eleanor Atwood

Atwood, fully Margaret Eleanor Atwood

Canadian Author, Poet, Critic, Essayist and Environmental Activist

Author Quotes

Waste-not want-not. I am not wasted, what do I want?

We must be a beacon of hope, because if you tell people there's nothing they can do, they will do worse than nothing.

Well. Then we had the irises, rising beautiful and cool on their tall stalks, like blown glass, like pastel water momentarily frozen in a splash, light blue, light mauve, and the darker ones, velvet and purple, black cat's ears in the sun, indigo shadow, and the bleeding hearts, so female in shape it was a surprise they'd not long since been rooted out. There is something subversive about this garden of Serena's, a sense of buried things bursting upwards, wordlessly, into the light, as if to point, to say: Whatever is silenced will clamor to be heard, though silently.

What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed up against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bed-sheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility, crisscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be.

Time in dreams is frozen. You can never get away from where you've been.

Today on the way home, it snows. Big, soft caressing flakes fall onto our skin like cold moths; the air fills with feathers.

Watch out for art, Crake used to say. As soon as they start doing art, we?re in trouble. Symbolic thinking of any kind would signal downfall, in Crake?s view. Next they?d be inventing idols, and funerals, and grave goods, and the afterlife, and sin, and Linear B, and kings, and then slavery and war. Snowman longs to question them?who first had the idea of making a reasonable facsimile of him, of Snowman, out of a jar lid and a mop? But that will have to wait.

We offered her flowers and signaled to her with our penises, but she did not respond with joy.' 'The men with the extra skins didn't look happy. They looked angry.' 'We went towards them to greet them, but they ran away.' Snowman can imagine. The sight of these preternaturally calm, well-muscled men advancing en masse, singing their unusual music, green eyes glowing, blue penises waving in unison, both hands outstretched like extras in a zombie film, would have to have been alarming.

We're all watching him. It's the one thing we can really do, and it is not for nothing: if he were to falter, fail, or die, what would become of us? No wonder he's like a boot, hard on the outside, giving shape to a pulp of tenderfoot. That's just a wish. I've been watching him for some time and he's given no evidence, of softness. But watch out, Commander, I tell him in my head. I've got my eye on you. One false move and I'm dead. Still, it must be hell, to be a man, like that. It must be just fine. It must be hell. It must be very silent.

What indeed, I say. I hate party lines, I hate ghettos. Anyway. I'm too old to have invented it and you're too young to understand it, so what's the point of discussing it at all?

Time is compressed like the fist I close on my knee ... I hold inside it the clues and solutions and the power for what I must do now.

Today she wears her habitual expression of strained anxiety; she smells of violets.

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.

We should think only beautiful things, as much as we can. There is so much beautiful in the world if you look around. You are only looking at the dirt under your feet, Jimmy. It's not good for you.

We're ankle deep in blood, and all because we ate the birds, we ate them a long time ago, when we still had the power to say no.

What is it I'll want from you? Not love: that would be too much to ask. Not forgiveness, which isn't yours to bestow. Only a listener, perhaps; only someone who will see me. Don't prettify me though, whatever else you do: I have no wish to be a decorated skull.

The temptation is to stay inside; to subside into the kind of recluse whom neighborhood children regard with derision and little awe; to let the hedges and weeds grow up, to allow the doors to rust shut, to lie on my bed in some gown-shaped garment and let my hair lengthens and spread out over the pillow and my fingernails to sprout into claws, while candle wax drips onto the carpet. But long ago I made a choice between classicism and romanticism. I prefer to be upright and contained?an urn in daylight.

The young habitually mistake lust for love, they're infested with idealism of all kinds.

There is something reassuring about the toilets. Bodily functions at least remain democratic. Everybody shits.

There's something to be said for hunger: at least it lets you know you're still alive.

They meet in church basements and offer bandages to those wounded by the shrapnel of exploding families.

This is how the girl who couldn't speak and the man who couldn't see fell in love.

The tension between her lack of control and her attempt to suppress it is horrible. It's like a fart in church.

Their faces were the way women's faces are when they've been talking about you behind your back and they think you've heard: embarrassed, but also a little defiant, as if it were their right.

There is the staircase, there is the sun. There is the kitchen, the plate with toast and strawberry jam, your subterfuge, your ordinary mirage. You stand red-handed. You want to wash yourself in earth, in rocks and grass. What are you supposed to do with all this loss? In the daylight we know what's gone is gone, but at night it's different. Nothing gets finished, not dying, not mourning; the dead repeat themselves, like clumsy drunks lurching sideways through the doors we open to them in sleep; these slurred guests, never entirely welcome, even those we have loved the most, especially those we have loved the most, returning from where we shoved them away too quickly: from under the ground, from under the water, they clutch at us, they clutch at us, we won't let go.

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Atwood, fully Margaret Eleanor Atwood
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Canadian Author, Poet, Critic, Essayist and Environmental Activist