October 4, 2016

A. S. Byatt Quotes

“A beautiful woman, Simone Weil said, seeing herself in the mirror, knows “This is I.” An ugly woman knows with equal certainty, “This is not I.” Maud knew this neat division represented an over-simplification. The doll-mask she saw had nothing to do with her, nothing.”

“A man may be in as just possession of truth as of a City, and yet be forced to surrender it – this was the wise saying of Sir Thomas Browne.”

“All these are true and none. The place is there Is what we name it, and is not. It is. “

“An odd phrase, “by heart,” he would add, as though poems were stored in the bloodstream. “

“Ash liked his characters at or over the edge of madness, constructing systems of belief and survival from the fragments of experience available to them. “

“But I cannot love her as I did, because she is not open, because she withholds what matters, because she makes me, with her pride or her madness, live a lie. “

“But poets don’t want homes — do they? — they are not creatures of hearths and firedogs, but of heaths and ranging hounds.”

“For my true thoughts have spent more time in your company than in anyone else’s, these last two or three months, and where my thoughts are, there am I, in truth.”

“Funny way to spend your life, though, studying another chap’s versifying. “

“He hesitated. They were what stayed alive, when I’d been taught and examined everything else. Maud smiled then. Exactly. That’s it. What could survive our education. “

“He knew her, he believed. He would teach her that she was not his possession, he would show her she was free, he would see her flash her wings. “

“How true it was that one needed to be seen by others to be sure of one’s own existence. “

“I am a creature of my pen. My pen is the best of me.”

“I wanted to be a Poet and a Poem, and now am neither”

“If there is a subject that is my own, my dear Ellen, as a writer I mean, it is the persistent shape-shifting life of things long-dead but not vanished. “

“Independent women must expect more of themselves, since neither men nor other more conventionally domesticated women will hope for anything, or expect any result other than utter failure. “

“It’s exhausting. When everything’s a deliberate political stance. Even if it’s interesting. “

“Literary critics make natural detectives. “

“Mine the long night The secret place Where lovers meetIn long embraceIn purple darkIn silvered kiss Forget the world And grasp your bliss.”

“My Solitude is my Treasure, the best thing I have. I hesitate to go out. If you opened the little gate, I would not hop away—but oh how I sing in my gold cage. “

“On the other side of attraction, is repulsion.”

“Only write to me, write to me, I love to see the hop and skip and sudden starts of your ink. “

“Outside our small safe place flies mystery. “

“She leads you on and baffles you, said Beatrice. She wants you to know and not to know. She took care to write down that the box was there. And she buried it.”

“Something new, they had said. They had a perfect day for it. A day with the blue and gold good weather of anyone’s primitive childhood expectations, when the new, brief memory tells itself that this is what is, and therefore was, and therefore will be. A good day to see a new place. “

“That is human nature, that people come after you, willingly enough, provided only that you no longer love or want them. “

“The historian is an indissoluble part of his history, as the poet is of his poem, as the shadowy biographer is of his subject’s life…”

“The individual appears for an instant, joins the community of thought, modifies it and dies; but the species, that dies not, reaps the fruit of his ephemeral existence. “

“The whole of our scholarship – the whole of our thought – we question everything except the centrality of sexuality.”

“There are things that happen and leave no discernible trace, are not spoken or written of, though it would be very wrong to say that subsequent events go on indifferently, all the same, as though such things had never been.”

“Think of me if you will as the Lady of Shalott . . . who chooses to watch diligently the bright colours of her Web – to ply an industrious shuttle – to make – something – to close the Shutters and the Peephole too – “

“Think of this – that the writer wrote alone, and the reader read alone, and they were alone with each other. “

“This is where I have always been coming to. Since my time began. And when I go away from here, this will be the mid-point, to which everything ran, before, and from which everything will run. But now, my love, we are here, we are now, and those other times are running elsewhere. “

“We are a Faustian generation, my dear–we seek to know what we are maybe not designed (if we are designed) to be able to know.”

“We must come to grief and regret anyway – and I for one would rather regret the reality than its phantasm, knowledge than hope, the deed than the hesitation, true life and not mere sickly potentialities. “

“Without this excitement they cannot have their Lyric Verse, and so they get it by any convenient means — and with absolute sincerity — but the Poems are not for the young lady, the young lady is for the Poems. “