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

The old watch the young with anguish, pain, fear. Above all what each has learned is what things cost, what has to be paid.

Very few people really care about freedom, about liberty, about the truth, very few. Very few people have guts, the kind of guts on which a real democracy has to depend. Without people with that sort of guts a free society dies or cannot be born.

Women are slaves to their beauty.

A foolhardy lot, we accepted it all, as we always do, never asked: "What is going to happen to us now, with this invention of print?" In the same way, we never thought to ask, "How will our lives, our way of thinking, be changed by the internet, which has seduced a whole generation with its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that, once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging etc?"

Everyone knows that where there is something that is capable of giving profit, then exploited it will be.

I think it possible that Marxism was the first attempt, for our time, outside the formal religions, at a world-mind, a world-ethic. It went wrong, could not prevent itself from dividing and subdividing, like all the other religions, into smaller and smaller chapels, sects, and creeds. But it was an attempt.

It was OK, us being Reds during the war, because we were all on the same side. But then the Cold War started. Almost overnight we became enemies of people who were close friends — they crossed the street to avoid us.

Perhaps it is not such a bad marriage after all? 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.

The point is, that the function of the novel seems to be changing; it has become an outpost of journalism; we read novels for information about areas of life we don’t know — Nigeria, South Africa, the American army, a coal-mining village, coteries in Chelsea, etc. We read to find out what is going on. One novel in five hundred or a thousand has the quality a novel should have to make it a novel — the quality of philosophy.

We are all creatures of the stars and their forces, they make us, we make them, we are part of a dance from which we by no means and not ever may consider ourselves separate.

Words. Words. I play with words, hoping that some combination, even a chance combination, will say what I want.

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.

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