Selected Doris Lessing Quotations
• The Golden Notebook for some reason surprised people but it was no more than you would hear women say in their kitchens every day in any country.
• That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.
• Some people obtain fame, others deserve it.
• Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.
• Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.
• There is only one real sin and that is to persuade oneself that the second-best is anything but second best.
• What's really terrible is to pretend that the second-rate is the 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.
• You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.
• 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.
• The current publishing scene is extremely good for the big, popular books. They sell them brilliantly, market them and all that. It is not good for the little books.
• Trust no friend without faults, and love a woman, but no angel.
• Laughter is by definition healthy.
• 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.
• It is the mark of great people to treat trifles as trifles and important matters as important
• It is terrible to destroy a person's picture of himself in the interests of truth or some other abstraction.
• What is a hero without love for mankind?
• In university they don't tell you that the greater part of the law is learning to tolerate fools.
• 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.
• Nonsense, it was all nonsense: this whole damned outfit, with its committees, its conferences, its eternal talk, talk, talk, was a great con trick; it was a mechanism to earn a few hundred men and women incredible sums of money.
• All political movements are like this -- we are in the right, everyone else is in the wrong. The people on our own side who disagree with us are heretics, and they start becoming enemies. With it comes an absolute conviction of your own moral superiority. There's oversimplification in everything, and a terror of flexibility.
• Political correctness is the natural continuum from the party line. What we are seeing once again is a self-appointed group of vigilantes imposing their views on others. It is a heritage of communism, but they don't seem to see this.
• It was OK, us being Reds during the war, because we were all on the same side. But then the Cold War started.
• Why were the Europeans bothered about the Soviet Union at all? It was nothing to do with us. China had nothing to do with us. Why were we not building, without reference to the Soviet Union, a good society in our own countries? But no, we were all -- in one way or another -- obsessed with the bloody Soviet Union, which was a disaster. What people were supporting was failure. And continually justifying it.
• 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 are moving easily under the flesh.
• I have found it to be true that the older I've become the better my life has become.
• 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.
• And then, not expecting it, you become middle-aged and anonymous. No one notices you. You achieve a wonderful freedom.
• For the last third of life there remains only work. It alone is always stimulating, rejuvenating, exciting and satisfying.
• Bed is the best place for reading, thinking, or doing nothing.
• Borrowing is not much better than begging; just as lending with interest is not much better than stealing.
• I was brought up on the farm in the bush, which was the best thing that happened, it was just a wonderful childhood.
• None of you [men] ask for anything -- except everything, but just for so long as you need it.
• A woman without a man cannot meet a man, any man, without thinking, even if it's for a half second, perhaps this is the man.
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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.
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Doris Lessing Quotes." About Women's History. URL: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/quotes/a/doris_lessing.htm . Date accessed: (today). (More on how to cite online sources including this page)