Elizabeth Bowen

(1899_1973 / Dublin)

Elizabeth Bowen Quotes

  • ''... any fiction ... is bound to be transposed autobiography.''
    Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), British novelist, story writer, essayist, and memoirist; born in Ireland. Seven Winters, part 2, sect. 2, ch. 5 (1962). From the preface to her 1959 Selected Stories.
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  • ''If a theme or idea is too near the surface, the novel becomes simply a tract illustrating an idea.''
    Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), British novelist, story writer, essayist, and memoirist; born in Ireland. Seven Winters, part 2, sect. 4, ch. 2 (1962). From "Truth and Fiction," a 1956 talk which Bowen gave on a British Broadcasting Company (BBC) Home Service radio program.
  • ''At the age of twelve I was finding the world too small: it appeared to me like a dull, trim back garden, in which only trivial games could be played.''
    Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), British novelist, story writer, essayist, and memoirist; born in Ireland. Seven Winters, part 2, sect. 4, ch. 1 (1962). From a 1947 British Broadcasting Company (BBC) radio program in which Bowen discussed She, a novel by H. Rider Haggard.
  • ''The importance to the writer of first writing must be out of all proportion of the actual value of what is written.''
    Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), British novelist, story writer, essayist, and memoirist; born in Ireland. Seven Winters, part 2, sect. 2, ch. 6 (1962). From the preface to the 1951 reprint of her first story collection, Encounters.
  • ''I pity people who do not care for Society. They are poorer for the oblation they do not make.''
    Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), British novelist, story writer, essayist, and memoirist; born in Ireland. Seven Winters, part 1, ch. 10 (1962).
  • ''Ghosts seem harder to please than we are; it is as though they haunted for haunting's sake—much as we relive, brood, and smoulder over our pasts.''
    Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), British novelist, story writer, essayist, and memoirist; born in Ireland. From preface to The Second Ghost Book, edited by Cynthia Asquith (1952). Seven Winters, part 2, sect. 2, ch. 9 (1962).
  • ''... writers do not find subjects: subjects find them. There is not so much a search as a state of open susceptibility.''
    Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), British novelist, story writer, essayist, and memoirist; born in Ireland. Seven Winters, part 2, sect. 1, ch. 1 (1962).
  • ''The best that an individual can do is to concentrate on what he or she can do, in the course of a burning effort to do it better.''
    Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), British novelist, story writer, essayist, and memoirist; born in Ireland. Seven Winters, part 2, sect. 2, ch. 5 (1962). Written in 1959.
  • ''Nobody can be kinder than the narcissist while you react to life in his own terms.''
    Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), Anglo-Irish novelist. The Death of the Heart, pt. 3, ch. 3 (1938).
  • ''Intimacies between women go backwards, beginning with revelations and ending up in small talk without loss of esteem.''
    Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), Anglo-Irish novelist. The Death of the Heart, pt. 2, ch. 1 (1938).

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