Doris Lessing Quotes

A simple grateful thought turned heavenwards is the most perfect prayer.

A story is how we construct our experiences.

A writer falls in love with an idea and gets carried away.

All I do is give interviews and spend time being photographed.

All my friends’ mothers were appalling women.

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

As soon as I got the Nobel Prize my back collapsed and I was in hospital.

Borrowing is not much better than begging; just as lending with interest is not much better than stealing.

Everything all the time in a city is extraordinary!

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

God knows why nobody ever learns from the preceding generation – but they don’t.

I always hated Tony Blair, from the beginning.

I am always being described as having views that I’ve never had in my life.

I am your original autodidact.

I didn’t go to school much, so I taught myself what I knew from reading.

I do have a sense, and I’ve never not had it, of how easily things can vanish.

I do not think that marriage is one of my talents. I’ve been much happier unmarried than married.

I do not think writers ought ever to sit down and think they must write about some cause, or theme, or something. If they write about their own experiences, something true is going to emerge.

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.

I don’t think in terms of optimism and pessimism when writing a story. I am telling a story.

I don’t think that the feminist movement has done much for the characters of women.

I hate Iran. I hate the Iranian government. It’s a cruel and evil government.

I have a daughter and two grand-daughters and a great grandson in Africa, in Cape Town.

I have ideas that I will probably never write now.

I haven’t got the energy to write now.

I never stopped reading.

I never thought of London in terms of possible heroes – of course, there are thousands. It’s a very talented city.

I think a lot of romanticizing has gone on with the women’s movement.

I think kids ought to travel. I think it’s very good to carry kids around. It’s good for them. Of course it’s tough on the parents.

I thought that would go without saying, that if a mother gives up her children, it’s very painful.

I wanted to highlight that whole dreadful process in book publishing that ‘nothing succeeds like success.’

I wanted to write about my mother as she should have been if she had not been messed up by World War I.

I was a nursemaid. And it was pretty boring.

I wasn’t an active feminist in the ’60s, never have been.

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

If you are a young writer today, it’s very hard.

I’ll be pleased when I’m dead. That will let me off worrying about all these wars.

I’m compulsive.

I’m just a story teller.

I’m not one of those writers that sits worrying about posthumous fame.

I’m sure that everybody feels a kind of permanent anguish about what’s going on in the world.

I’m very unhappy when I’m not writing.

In the writing process, the more a story cooks, the better.

In university they don’t tell you that the greater part of the law is learning to tolerate fools.

It is terrible to destroy a person’s picture of himself in the interests of truth or some other abstraction.

It is the mark of great people to treat trifles as trifles and important matters as important.

It usually takes me a year to do a book. A year or eighteen months.

It’s lovely to have money to give away – that’s the bonus of winning the Nobel.

It’s very interesting what you don’t care about.

I’ve won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one. I’m delighted to win them all, the whole lot.

I’ve worked hard all my life. You have to if you want to get things done.

Literature is analysis after the event.

Man, who is he? Too bad, to be the work of God: Too good for the work of chance!

Men are restless, adventurous. Women are conservative – despite what current ideology says.

My father was always so mingled with rage at his life.

My father was in the First World War.

My mother died happily of a stroke in her seventies.

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.

Our society is dependent on some precarious mechanisms, and they are very dicey. They can easily collapse.

Pleasure resorts are like film stars and royalty… embarrassed by the figures they cut in the fantasies of people who have never met them.

Sentimentality is intolerable because it is false feeling.

September 11 was terrible but, if one goes back over the history of the IRA, what happened to the Americans wasn’t that terrible.

Small things amuse small minds.

Some people obtain fame, others deserve it.

Sometimes I think what I write is funny in its quiet way.

Space or science fiction has become a dialect for our time.

That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.

The critics slap labels on you and then expect you to talk inside their terms.

The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.

The human race has been telling stories since it began.

The Nobel Prize is run by a self-perpetuated committee. They vote for themselves and get the world’s publishing industry to jump to their tune.

The thing is, I haven’t changed at all.

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

There is nothing more boring for an intelligent woman than to spend endless amounts of time with small children.

There is only one real sin and that is to persuade oneself that the second best is anything but second best.

There was a time when young people respected learning and literature and now they don’t.

There’s always this sense of incredulity that writers feel, because they’re usually living flat and ordinary lives, because they have to.

There’s an unconscious bias in our society: girls are wonderful; boys are terrible. And to be a boy, or young man, growing up, having to listen to all this, it must be painful.

They can’t give a Nobel to someone who’s dead so I think they were probably thinking they had better give it to me now before I popped off.

Things are not quite so simple always as black and white.

Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.

This world is run by people who know how to do things. They know how things work. They are equipped. Up there, there’s a layer of people who run everything. But we – we’re just peasants. We don’t understand what’s going on, and we can’t do anything.

Time and distance from the first and second world wars doesn’t seem to lessen their horrors.

Trust no friend without faults, and love a woman, but no angel.

We like to think we can solve everything, but we can’t always.

We use our parents like recurring dreams, to be entered into when needed.

What I really can’t stand about the feminist revolution is that it produced some of the smuggest, most unselfcritical people the world has ever seen. They are horrible.

What is a hero without love for mankind.

What really fascinates me is this need that is so strong now that if you read a work of the imagination you instantly have to say, ‘Oh, what this really is is so-and-so,’ reducing it to a simple formula.

What society doesn’t realize is that in the past, ordinary people respected learning. They respected books, and they don’t now, or not very much. That whole respect for serious literature and learning has disappeared.

What the feminists want of me is something they haven’t examined because it comes from religion. They want me to bear witness.

What’s terrible is to pretend that second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don’t need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you’re capable of better.

When I became political and Communist, it was because they were the only people I had ever met who fought the color bar in their lives.

When I started, there were no big interviews, no television, no profiles and all that. The publishers were quite shockingly uncommercial, but they did look after their writers.

When there’s a war, people get married.

When young I did my best to undo that bit of the British Empire I found myself in: that is, old Southern Rhodesia.

When you’re young you think that you’re going to sail into a lovely lake of quietude and peace. This is profoundly untrue.

Whenever I met anyone who knew anything, I would bore them stiff until they told me what they knew.

With a library you are free, not confined by temporary political climates. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one – but no one at all – can tell you what to read and when and how.

You cannot escape the fact that women mould your first five years, whether you like it or not. And I can’t say I do like it very much.

You can’t be a Red if you’re married to a civil servant.

You know, looking at it objectively, I’ve written one or two good books.

You know, when I was a girl, the idea that the British Empire could ever end was absolutely inconceivable. And it just disappeared, like all the other empires.

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