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

For with my intuition I knew that this man was repeating a pattern over and over again: courting a woman with his intelligence and sympathy, claiming her emotionally; then, when she began to claim in return, running away. And the better a woman was, the sooner he would begin to run. I knew this with my intuition, and yet I sat there in my dark room, looking at the hazed wet brilliance of the purple London night sky, longing with my whole being.

If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air.

Most novels, if they are successful at all, are original in the sense that they report the existence of an area of society, a type of person, not yet admitted to the general literate consciousness.

Some people obtain fame, others deserve it.

There are innumerable marriages where two people, both twisted and wrong in their depths, are well matched, making each other miserable in the way they need, in the way the pattern of their life demands.

What a luxury a cat is, the moments of shocking and startling pleasure in a day, the feel of the beast, the soft sleekness under your palm, the warmth when you wake on a cold night, the grace and charm even in a quite ordinary workaday puss. Cat walks across your room, and in that lonely stalk you see leopard or even panther, or it turns its head to acknowledge you and the yellow blaze of those eyes tells you what an exotic visitor you have here, in this household friend, the cat who purrs as you stroke, or rub his chin, or scratch his head.

You should write, first of all, to please yourself. You shouldn't care a damn about anybody else at all. But writing can't be a way of life - the important part of writing is living. You have to live in such a way that your writing emerges from it.

Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.

From time to time the emotional lightning flashed and showed a landscape of private misery, and then — we went on dancing.

If she had been left alone she would have gone on, in her own way, enjoying herself thoroughly, until people found one day that she had turned imperceptibly into one of those women who have become old without ever having been middle aged: a little withered, a little acid, hard as nails, sentimentally kindhearted, and addicted to religion or small dogs.

My major aim was to shape a book which would make its own comment, a wordless statement: to talk through the way it was shaped. As I have said, this was not noticed

Sometimes I dislike women, I dislike us all, because of our capacity for not-thinking when it suits us; we choose not to think when we are reaching our for happiness.

There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.

What a phenomenon it has been - science fiction, space fiction - exploding out of nowhere, unexpectedly of course, as always happens when the human mind is being forced to expand; this time starwards, galaxy-wise, and who knows where next.

You want me to begin a novel with The two women were alone in the London flat?

Art is the Mirror of our betrayed ideals.

Her own contempt for any forms of pressure society might put on her was so profound and instinctive that she as instinctively despised anyone who paid tribute to them.

If what we think now is different from what we thought then, we can take it for granted that what we think in a year will be different again.

My mother was a woman who was very frustrated. She had a great deal of ability, and all this energy went into me and my brother. She was always wanting us to be something. For a long time she wanted me to be a musician, because she had been a rather good musician. I didn’t have much talent for it. But everybody had to have music lessons then. She was always pushing us. And, of course, in one way it was very good, because children need to be pushed. But she would then take possession of whatever it was. So you had to protect yourself. But I think probably every child has to find out the way to possess their own productions.

Sometimes I pick up a book and I say: Well, so you've written it first, have you? Good for you. O.K., then I won't have to write it.

There is a whole generation of women and it was as if their lives came to a stop when they had children. Most of them got pretty neurotic - because, I think, of the contrast between what they were taught at school they were capable of being and what actually happened to them.

What is so painful about that time is that nothing was disastrous. It was all wrong, ugly, unhappy and coloured with cynicism, but nothing was tragic, there were no moments that could change anything or anybody. From time to time the emotional lightning flashed and showed a landscape of private misery, and then — we went on dancing.

As in the political sphere, the child is taught that he is free, a democrat, with a free will and a free mind, lives in a free country, makes his own decisions. At the same time he is a prisoner of the assumptions and dogmas of his time, which he does not question, because he has never been told they exist. By the time a young person has reached the age when he has to choose (we still take it for granted that a choice is inevitable) between the arts and the sciences, he often chooses the arts because he feels that here is humanity, freedom, choice. He does not know that he is already moulded by a system: he does not know that the choice itself is the result of a false dichotomy rooted in the heart of our culture. Those who do sense this, and who don't wish to subject themselves to further moulding, tend to leave, in a half-unconscious, instinctive attempt to find work where they won't be divided against themselves. With all our institutions, from the police force to academia, from medicine to politics, we give little attention to the people who leave—that process of elimination that goes on all the time and which excludes, very early, those likely to be original and reforming, leaving those attracted to a thing because that is what they are already like. A young policeman leaves the Force saying he doesn't like what he has to do. A young teacher leaves teaching, here idealism snubbed. This social mechanism goes almost unnoticed—yet it is as powerful as any in keeping our institutions rigid and oppressive.

How boring these emotions are that we're caught in and can't get free of, no matter how much we want to.

I'm always astounded at the way we automatically look at what divides and separates us. We never look at what people have in common. If you see it, black and white people, both sides look to see the differences, they don't look at what they have together. Men and women, and old and young, and so on. And this is a disease of the mind, the way I see it. Because in actual fact, men and women have much more in common than they are separated.

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