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Annie Dillard Quotes

Annie Dillard (April 30, 1945 - )


Annie Dillard is known for writing poems, essays, and novels. Her best-known work, perhaps, is nature-themed Pilgrim at Tinker Creek which has often been compared to the writing of Henry David Thoreau and which she has described as a "book of theology." Her An American Childhood tells the story of her early years and later books are often also on the theme of nature.

Selected Annie Dillard Quotations

• I live by a creek, Tinker Creek, in a valley in Virginia's Blue Ridge...

• We are here on the planet only once, and might as well get a feel for the place.

• Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you.

• There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by.

• You can't test courage cautiously.

• The dedicated life is the life worth living. You must give with your whole heart.

• No; we have been as usual asking the wrong question. It does not matter a hoot what the mockingbird on the chimney is singing. The real and proper question is: Why is it beautiful?

• I would like to learn, or remember, how to live. I come to Hollins Pond not so much to learn how to live as, frankly, to forget about it. That is, I don't think I can learn from a wild animal how to live in particular...but I might learn something of mindlessness, something of the purity of living in the physical senses and the dignity of living without bias or motive.

• The extravagant gesture is the very stuff of creation. After one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down aeons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with fresh vigor. The whole show has been on fire since the word go!

• If we were to judge nature by common sense or likelihood, we wouldn't believe the world existed.

• Trees have a curious relationship to the subject of the present moment. There are many created things in the universe that outlive us, that outlive the sun, even, but I can't think about them. I live with trees.

• A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.

• Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.

• Why are we watching the news, reading the news keeping up with the news? Only to enforce our fancy -- possibly a necessary lie -- that these are crucial times, and we are in on them.

• As soon as beauty is sought not from religion and love, but for pleasure, it degrades the seeker.

• It is ironic that the one thing that all religions recognize as separating us from our creator -- our very self-consciousness -- is also the one thing that divides us from our fellow creatures. It was a bitter birthday present from evolution.

• I have never read any theologian who claims God is particularly interested in religion, anyway.

• Starlings are notoriously difficult to "control." The story is told of a man who was bothered by starlings roosting in a large sycamore near his house. He said he tried everything to get rid of them and finally took a shotgun to three of them and killed them. When asked if that discouraged the birds, he reflected a minute, leaned forward, and said confidentially, "Those three it did."

• One of the main reasons that it is so easy to march men off to war," says Ernest Becker, is that "each of them feels sorry for the man next to him who will die.

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About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis 1997-2005. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.

Citation information:
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Annie Dillard Quotes." About Women's History. URL: http://womenshistory.about.com/cs/quotes/annie_dillard.htm . Date accessed: (today). (More on how to cite online sources including this page)

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