Quotations From DORIS LESSING


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  • Literature is analysis after the event.
    Doris Lessing (b. 1919), British novelist. Quoted in "Afterwords," sect. 2, Children of Albion: Poetry of the Underground in Britain, ed. Michael Horovitz (1969).
  • What is charm then? The free giving of a grace, the spending of something given by nature in her role of spendthrift ... something extra, superfluous, unnecessary, essentially a power thrown away.
    Doris Lessing (b. 1919), British novelist. Particularly Cats, ch. 9 (1967).

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  • This is a catastrophic universe, always; and subject to sudden reversals, upheavals, changes, cataclysms, with joy never anything but the song of substance under pressure forced into new forms and shapes.
    Doris Lessing (b. 1919), British novelist. Johor, in Shikasta, "Johor reports," p. 3, Knopf (1979).

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  • 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!"
    Doris Lessing (b. 1919), British novelist. Dedication, Shikasta, Knopf (1979).

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  • "I suppose with the French Revolution for a father and the Russian Revolution for a mother, you can very well dispense with a family," he observed.
    Doris Lessing (b. 1919), British novelist. Mr. Maynard to Martha Quest, in A Proper Marriage, pt. 4, ch. 4, p. 345, Simon and Schuster (1952).

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  • If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air.
    Doris Lessing (b. 1919), British novelist. Particularly Cats, ch. 2 (1967).

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  • It is terrible to destroy a person's picture of himself in the interests of truth or some other abstraction.
    Doris Lessing (b. 1919), British novelist. The Grass Is Singing, ch. 2 (1950).

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  • 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.
    Doris Lessing (b. 1919), British novelist. Some remarks, Shikasta, p. x, Knopf (1971).

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  • You can't be a Red if you're married to a civil servant.
    Doris Lessing (b. 1919), British novelist. Stella to Martha Quest, in A Proper Marriage, ch. 1, p. 20, Simon and Schuster (1952).

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  • 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.
    Doris Lessing (b. 1919), British novelist. Sunday Times: Books (London, May 10, 1992).

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