Doris Lessing, fully Doris May Lessing, born Doris May Tayler

Doris
Lessing, fully Doris May Lessing, born Doris May Tayler
1919

British Writer, Nobel Prize in Literature

Author Quotes

A woman without a man cannot meet a man, any man, of any age, without thinking, even if it's for a half-second, "Perhaps this is THE man."

For my father, who used to sit, hour after hour, night after night, outside our house in Africa, watching the stars "Well," he would say, "if we blow ourselves up, there's plenty more where we came from!"

I think people are always looking for gurus. It’s the easiest thing in the world to become a guru. It’s quite terrifying. I once saw something fascinating here in New York. It must have been in the early seventies—guru time. A man used to go and sit in Central Park, wearing elaborate golden robes. He never once opened his mouth, he just sat. He’d appear at lunchtime. People appeared from everywhere, because he was obviously a holy man, and this went on for months. They just sat around him in reverent silence. Eventually he got fed up with it and left. Yes. It’s as easy as that.

It’s amazing what you find out about yourself when you write in the first person about someone very different from you.

Political correctness is the natural continuum from the party line. What we are seeing once again is a self-appointed group of vigilantes imposing their views on others. It is a heritage of communism, but they don't seem to see this.

The two women were alone in the London flat. "The point is," said Anna, as her friend came back from the telephone on the landing, "the point is, that as far as I can see, everything's cracking up."

We are several people fitted inside each other. Chinese boxes. Our bodies are the outside box. Or the inside one if you like.

You can only learn to be a better writer by actually writing. I don't know much about creative writing programs. But they're not telling the truth if they don't teach, one, that writing is hard work and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer.

All one's life as a young woman one is on show, a focus of attention, people notice you. You set yourself up to be noticed and admired. And then, not expecting it, you become middle-aged and anonymous. No one notices you. You achieve a wonderful freedom. It's a positive thing. You can move about unnoticed and invisible.

For she was of that generation who, having found nothing in religion, had formed themselves through literature.

I was taken around and shown things as a "useful idiot"... that’s what my role was … I can’t understand why I was so gullible.

Learn to trust your own judgment, learn inner independence, learn to trust that time will sort good from bad - including your own bad.

So a war begins. Into a peace-time life, comes an announcement, a threat. A bomb drops somewhere, potential traitors are whisked off quietly to prison. And for some time, days, months, a year perhaps, life has a peace-time quality, into which war-like events intrude. But when a war has been going on for a long time, life is all war, every event has the quality of war, nothing of peace remains.

The world is only tolerable because of the empty places in it...when the world's filled up, we'll have to get hold of a star. Any star. Venus, or Mars. Get hold of it and leave it empty. Man needs an empty space somewhere for his spirit to rest in.

We do not know which of our silver products will be judged as gold by our successors, nor does it matter.

You know, whenever women make imaginary female kingdoms in literature, they are always very permissive, to use the jargon word, and easy and generous and self-indulgent, like the relationships between women when there are no men around. They make each other presents, and they have little feasts, and nobody punishes anyone else. This is the female way of going along when there are no men about or when men are not in the ascendant.

All sanity depends on this: that it should be a delight to feel heat strike the skin, a delight to stand upright, knowing the bones moving easily under the flesh.

For the last third of life there remains only work. It alone is always stimulating, rejuvenating, exciting and satisfying.

I write because I've always written, can't stop. I am a writing animal. The way a silk worm is a silk-producing animal.

Literature is analysis after the event.

So why write novels? Indeed, why! I suppose we have to go on living as if...

The youth do not see the old. They are not programmed to see the old, who are cancelled, negated, wiped out.

We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known. They have known for thousands of years that to lock a sick person into solitary confinement makes him worse. They have known for thousands of years that a poor man who is frightened of his landlord and of the police is a slave. They have known it. We know it. But do the great enlightened mass of the British people know it? No. It is our task, Ella, yours and mine, to tell them. Because the great men are too great to be bothered. They are already discovering how to colonise Venus and to irrigate the moon. That is what is important for our time. You and I are the boulder-pushers. All our lives, you and I, we’ll put all our energies, all our talents into pushing a great boulder up a mountain. The boulder is the truth that the great men know by instinct, and the mountain is the stupidity of mankind.

You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.

Always, in epochs when the languages and dialects of a culture have become outstripped by development of a practical sort, these languages become repetitive, formalised -- and ridiculous. Phrases, words, associations of sentences spin themselves out automatically, but have no effect: they have lost their power, their energy.

Author Picture
First Name
Doris
Last Name
Lessing, fully Doris May Lessing, born Doris May Tayler
Birth Date
1919
Bio

British Writer, Nobel Prize in Literature