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Doris Lessing

“Remember that for all the books we have in print, are as many that have never reached print, have never been written down-even now, in this age of compulsive reverence for the written word, history, even social ethic, are taught by means of stories, and the people who have been conditioned into thinking only in terms of what is written-and unfortunately nearly all the products of our educational system can do no more than this-are missing what is before their eyes. For instance, the real history of Africa is still in the custody of black storytellers and wise men, black historians, medicine men: it is a verbal history, still kept safe from the white man and his predations. Everywhere, if you keep your mind open, you will find the words not written down. So never let the printed page be your master. Above all, you should know that the fact that you have to spend one year, or two years, on one book, or one author means that you are badly taught-you should have been taught to read your way from one sympathy to another, you should be learning to follow you own intuitive feeling about what you need; that is what you should have been developing, not the way to quote from other people.”


Doris Lessing
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