British Writer, Nobel Prize in Literature
Doris Lessing, fully Doris May Lessing, born Doris May Tayler
British Writer, Nobel Prize in Literature
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, weâ€™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.
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.
The human community is evolving… We can survive anything you care to mention. We are supremely equipped to survive, to adapt and even in the long run to start thinking.
That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all of your life, but in a new way.
In university they don’t tell you that the greater part of the law is learning to tolerate fools.
This is an inevitable and easily recognizable stage in every revolutionary movement: reformers must expect to be disowned by those who are only too happy to enjoy what has been won for them.
It is terrible to destroy a person's picture of himself in the interests of truth or some other abstraction.
Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: "You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do."