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Salman Rushdie quotes (showing 1-30 of 590)

“Language is courage: the ability to conceive a thought, to speak it, and by doing so to make it true.”
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
Salman Rushdie
“Whenever someone who knows you disappears, you lose one version of yourself. Yourself as you were seen, as you were judged to be. Lover or enemy, mother or friend, those who know us construct us, and their several knowings slant the different facets of our characters like diamond-cutter's tools. Each such loss is a step leading to the grave, where all versions blend and end.”
Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet
“I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I'm gone which would not have happened if I had not come.”
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
“From the beginning men used God to justify the unjustifiable.”
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
“Memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane human being ever trusts someone else's version more than his own.”
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
“When a reader falls in love with a book, it leaves its essence inside him, like radioactive fallout in an arable field, and after that there are certain crops that will no longer grow in him, while other, stranger, more fantastic growths may occasionally be produced."

[Books vs. Goons, L.A. Times, April 24, 2005]”
Salman Rushdie
“Now I know what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that's what.”
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
“Go for broke. Always try and do too much. Dispense with safety nets. Take a deep breath before you begin talking. Aim for the stars. Keep grinning. Be bloody-minded. Argue with the world. And never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things--childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves--that go on slipping , like sand, through our fingers.”
Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991
“A poet's work . . . to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.”
Salman Rushdie
“What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accomodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? – The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world.”
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
“A photograph is a moral decision taken in one eighth of a second. ”
Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet
“To understand just one life you have to swallow the world ... do you wonder, then, that I was a heavy child?”
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
“Free societies...are societies in motion, and with motion comes tension, dissent, friction. Free people strike sparks, and those sparks are the best evidence of freedom's existence.”
Salman Rushdie
“Our lives disconnect and reconnect, we move on, and later we may again touch one another, again bounce away. This is the felt shape of a human life, neither simply linear nor wholly disjunctive nor endlessly bifurcating, but rather this bouncey-castle sequence of bumpings-into and tumblings-apart.”
Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet
“faith without doubt is addiction”
Salman Rushdie
“We all owe death a life.”
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
“The only people who see the whole picture,' he murmured, 'are the ones who step out of the frame.”
Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet
“Most of what matters in our lives takes place in our absence.”
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
tags: life
“Realism can break a writer's heart.”
Salman Rushdie, Shame
“Masks beneath masks until suddenly the bare bloodless skull.”
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
“What's real and what's true aren't necessarily the same.”
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
“The world, somebody wrote, is the place we prove real by dying in it.”
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
“‎No people whose word for 'yesterday' is the same as their word for 'tomorrow' can be said to have a firm grip on the time.”
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
“Perhaps the story you finish is never the one you begin.”
Salman Rushdie
“If you were an atheist, Birbal," the Emperor challenged his first minister, "what would you say to the true believers of all the great religions of the world?" Birbal was a devout Brahmin from Trivikrampur, but he answered unhesitatingly, "I would say to them that in my opinion they were all atheists as well; I merely believe in one god less than each of them." "How so?" the Emperor asked. "All true believers have good reasons for disbelieving in every god except their own," said Birbal. "And so it is they who, between them, give me all the reasons for believing in none."

-- From "The Shelter of the World
Salman Rushdie, The Enchantress Of Florence
“We were language's magpies by nature, stealing whatever sounded bright and shiny.”
Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet
“Nobody has the right to not be offended. That right doesn't exist in any declaration I have ever read.

If you are offended it is your problem, and frankly lots of things offend lots of people.

I can walk into a bookshop and point out a number of books that I find very unattractive in what they say. But it doesn't occur to me to burn the bookshop down. If you don't like a book, read another book. If you start reading a book and you decide you don't like it, nobody is telling you to finish it.

To read a 600-page novel and then say that it has deeply offended you: well, you have done a lot of work to be offended.”
Salman Rushdie
“The fundamentalist seeks to bring down a great deal more than buildings. Such people are against, to offer just a brief list, freedom of speech, a multi-party political system, universal adult suffrage, accountable government, Jews, homosexuals, women's rights, pluralism, secularism, short skits, dancing, beardlessness, evolution theory, sex. There are tyrants, not Muslims.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that we should now define ourselves not only by what we are for but by what we are against. I would reverse that proposition, because in the present instance what we are against is a no brainer. Suicidist assassins ram wide-bodied aircraft into the World Trade Center and Pentagon and kill thousands of people: um, I'm against that. But what are we for? What will we risk our lives to defend? Can we unanimously concur that all the items in the preceding list -- yes, even the short skirts and the dancing -- are worth dying for?

The fundamentalist believes that we believe in nothing. In his world-view, he has his absolute certainties, while we are sunk in sybaritic indulgences. To prove him wrong, we must first know that he is wrong. We must agree on what matters: kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting-edge fashion, literature, generosity, water, a more equitable distribution of the world's resources, movies, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love. These will be our weapons. Not by making war but by the unafraid way we choose to live shall we defeat them.

How to defeat terrorism? Don't be terrorized. Don't let fear rule your life. Even if you are scared.”
Salman Rushdie, Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002

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