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On Beauty On Beauty by Zadie Smith
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On Beauty Quotes Showing 1-30 of 97
“The greatest lie ever told about love is that it sets you free.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful...and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“Right. I look fine. Except I don't,' said Zora, tugging sadly at her man's nightshirt. This was why Kiki had dreaded having girls: she knew she wouldn't be able to protect them from self-disgust. To that end she had tried banning television in the early years, and never had a lipstick or a woman's magazine crossed the threshold of the Belsey home to Kiki's knowledge, but these and other precautionary measures had made no difference. It was in the air, or so it seemed to Kiki, this hatred of women and their bodies-- it seeped in with every draught in the house; people brought it home on their shoes, they breathed it in off their newspapers. There was no way to control it.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“You don't have favourites among your children, but you do have allies. ”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“Any woman who counts on her face is a fool.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“Sometimes you get a flash of what you look like to other people.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“People talk about the happy quiet that can exist between two loves, but this, too, was great; sitting between his sister and his brother, saying nothing, eating. Before the world existed, before it was populated, and before there were wars and jobs and colleges and movies and clothes and opinions and foreign travel -- before all of these things there had been only one person, Zora, and only one place: a tent in the living room made from chairs and bed-sheets. After a few years, Levi arrived; space was made for him; it was as if he had always been. Looking at them both now, Jerome found himself in their finger joints and neat conch ears, in their long legs and wild curls. He heard himself in their partial lisps caused by puffy tongues vibrating against slightly noticeable buckteeth. He did not consider if or how or why he loved them. They were just love: they were the first evidence he ever had of love, and they would be the last confirmation of love when everything else fell away.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“They had nothing to say to each other. A five-year age gap between siblings is like a garden that needs constant attention. Even three months apart allows the weeds to grow up between you.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“I am very selfish, really. I lived for love.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“I don't ask myself what did I live for, said Carlene strongly. That is a man's question. I ask whom did I live for. ”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“The future's another country, man... And I still ain't got a passport. ”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“This, after all, was the month in which families began tightening and closing and sealing; from Thanksgiving to the New Year, everybody's world contracted, day by day, into the microcosmic single festive household, each with its own rituals and obsessions, rules and dreams. You didn't feel you could call people. They didn't feel they could phone you. How does one cry for help from these seasonal prisons?”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“He was bookish, she was not; he was theoretical, she political. She called a rose a rose. He called it an accumulation of cultural and biological constructions circulating around the mutually attracting binary poles of nature/artifice.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“She did what girls generally do when they don't feel the part: she dressed it instead.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“It's easy to confuse a woman for a philosophy”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“She represents love, beauty, purity, the ideal female and the moon...and she's the mystère of jealousy, vengeance and discord, AND, on the other hand, of love, perpetual help, goodwill, health, beauty and fortune.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“In a whisper he began begging for—and, as the sun set, received—the concession people always beg for: a little more time.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“Oh, I know that. You know me, baby, I cannot be broken. Takes a giant to snap me in half.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“This is what a woman is: unadorned, after children and work and age, and experience-these are the marks of living.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“- You look fine.
- Right. I look fine. Except I don't, said Zora, tugging sadly at her man's nightshirt. This was why Kiki had dreaded having girls: she knew she wouldn't be able to protect them from self-disgust. ”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“Each couple is its own vaudeville act.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“And so it happened again, the daily miracle whereby interiority opens out and brings to bloom the million-petalled flower of being here, in the world, with other people. Neither as hard as she had thought it might be nor as easy as it appeared.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“He was having an odd paternal rush, a blood surge that was also about blood and was presently hunting through Howard's expansive intelligence to find words that would more effectively express something like don't walk in front of cars take care and be good and don't hurt or be hurt and don't live in a way that makes you feel dead and don't betray anybody or yourself and take care of what matters and please don't and please remember and make sure
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“Jerome said, It's like, a family doesn't work anymore when everyone in it is more miserable than they would be if they were alone, You know?”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“...'this is real. This life. We're really here - this is really happening. Suffering is real. When you hurt people, it's real. When you fuck one of our best friends, that's a real thing and it hurts me.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“USURY: Everybody's looking for the job in which you never have to pay anyone their pound of flesh. Self-employed nirvana. A lot of artists like to think of themselves as uncompromising; a lot of management consultants won't tell you what they do until they've sunk five pints. I don't think anybody should give themselves air just because they don't have to hand over a pound of flesh every day at 5pm, and I don't think anyone should beat themselves with broken glass because they do. If you're an artist, well, good for you. Thank your lucky stars every evening and dance in the garden with the fairies. But don't fool yourself that you occupy some kind of higher moral ground. You have to work for that. Writing a few lines, painting a pretty picture - that just won't do it.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“He did not consider if or how or why he loved them. They were just love: they were the first evidence he ever had of love, and they would be the last confirmation of love when everything else fell away.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“This because it is never really very cold in England. It is drizzly, and the wind will blow; hail happens, and there is a breed of Tuesday in January in which time creeps and no light comes and the air is full of water and nobody really loves anybody, but still a decent jumper and a waxen jacket lined with wool is sufficient for every weather England's got to give.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“It was a kiss from the past.”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty
“How much longer on the divan? Why does sex have to mean everything? OK, it can mean something, but why everything? Why do thirty years have to go down the toilet because I wanted to touch somebody else? Am I missing something? Is this what it comes down to? Why does the sex have to mean everything?”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty

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