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Doris Lessing quotes (showing 1-30 of 190)

“Whatever you're meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”
Doris Lessing
“What's terrible is to pretend that second-rate is 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.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: 'You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.”
Doris Lessing, Under My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949
“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag-and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty-and vise versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you. ”
Doris Lessing
“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.”
Doris Lessing
“Do you know what people really want? Everyone, I mean. Everybody in the world is thinking: I wish there was just one other person I could really talk to, who could really understand me, who'd be kind to me. That's what people really want, if they're telling the truth.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“A public library is the most democratic thing in the world. What can be found there has undone dictators and tyrants: demagogues can persecute writers and tell them what to write as much as they like, but they cannot vanish what has been written in the past, though they try often enough...People who love literature have at least part of their minds immune from indoctrination. If you read, you can learn to think for yourself.”
Doris Lessing
“Very few people really care about freedom, about liberty, about the truth, very few. Very few people have guts, the kind of guts on which a real democracy has to depend. Without people with that sort of guts a free society dies or cannot be born.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“As you get older, you don't get wiser. You get irritable.”
Doris Lessing
tags: age
“You should write, first of all, to please yourself. You shouldn't care a damn about anybody else at all. But writing can't be a way of life - the important part of writing is living. You have to live in such a way that your writing emerges from it.”
Doris Lessing
“I am a person who continually destroys the possibilities of a future because of the numbers of alternative viewpoints I can focus on the present.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Sometimes I dislike women, I dislike us all, because of our capacity for not-thinking when it suits us; we choose not to think when we are reaching our for happiness.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Words. Words. I play with words, hoping that some combination, even a chance combination, will say what I want.”
Doris Lessing
“I am sure everyone has had the experience of reading a book and finding it vibrating with aliveness, with colour and immediacy. And then, perhaps some weeks later, reading it again and finding it flat and empty. Well, the book hasn't changed: you have.”
Doris Lessing
“For with my intuition I knew that this man was repeating a pattern over and over again: courting a woman with his intelligence and sympathy, claiming her emotionally; then, when she began to claim in return, running away. And the better a woman was, the sooner he would begin to run. I knew this with my intuition, and yet I sat there in my dark room, looking at the hazed wet brilliance of the purple London night sky, longing with my whole being.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“In university they don't tell you that the greater part of the law is learning to tolerate fools.”
Doris Lessing
“For she was of that generation who, having found nothing in religion, had formed themselves through literature.”
Doris Lessing, A Proper Marriage
“Art is the Mirror of our betrayed ideals.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“There is only one real sin, and that is to persuade oneself that the second-best is anything but the second-best”
Doris Lessing
“It is terrible to destroy a person's picture of himself in the interests of truth or some other abstraction.”
Doris Lessing
“Because I was permanently confused, dissatisfied, unhappy, tormented by inadequacy, driven by wanting towards every kind of impossible future, the attitude of mind described by 'tolerantly amused eyes' was years away from me. I don't think I really saw people then, except as appendages to my needs. It's only now, looking back, that I understood, but at the time I lived in a brilliantly lit haze, shifting and flickering according to my changing desires. Of course, that is only a description of being young.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“We are all creatures of the stars.”
Doris Lessing, Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta
“We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known. They have known for thousands of years that to lock a sick person into solitary confinement makes him worse. They have known for thousands of years that a poor man who is frightened of his landlord and of the police is a slave. They have known it. We know it. But do the great enlightened mass of the British people know it? No. It is our task, Ella, yours and mine, to tell them. Because the great men are too great to be bothered. They are already discovering how to colonise Venus and to irrigate the moon. That is what is important for our time. You and I are the boulder-pushers. All our lives, you and I, we’ll put all our energies, all our talents into pushing a great boulder up a mountain. The boulder is the truth that the great men know by instinct, and the mountain is the stupidity of mankind.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Laughter is by definition healthy.”
Doris Lessing
“You simply don't get to be wise, mature, etc., unless you've been a raving cannibal for thirty years or so.”
Doris Lessing
“How boring these emotions are that we're caught in and can't get free of, no matter how much we want to...”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty-and vise versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.”
Doris Lessing
“Novels give you the matrix of emotions, give you the flavour of a time in a way formal history cannot.”
Doris Lessing
“We stood, separated by space, certainly, in identical conditions of pleasant uncertainty and anticipation, and we both held our hearts in our hands, all pink and palpitating and ready for pleasure and pain, and we were about to throw these hearts in each other's face like snowballs, or cricket balls (How's that?) or, more accurately, like great bleeding wounds: 'Take my wound.”
Doris Lessing
tags: love

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