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Quotes of the day: Iris Murdoch

Published Monday, July 14, 2014 @ 9:14 PM EDT
Jul 14 2014

Dame Iris Murdoch DBE (July 15, 1919 - February 8, 1999) was an Irish-born British author and philosopher, best known for her novels about good and evil, sexual relationships, morality, and the power of the unconscious. Her first published novel, Under the Net, was selected in 1998 as one of Modern Library's 100 best English- language novels of the 20th century. In 1987, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


All art is the struggle to be, in a particular sort of way, virtuous.

Almost anything that consoles us is a fake.

Art is the final cunning of the human soul which would rather do anything than face the gods.

Being good is just a matter of temperament in the end.

Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved.

Emotions really exist at the bottom of the personality or at the top. In the middle they are acted. This is why all the world is a stage.

Every artist is an unhappy lover. And unhappy lovers want to tell their story.

Every man needs two women, a quiet home-maker, and a thrilling nymph.

Falling out of love is chiefly a matter of forgetting how charming someone is.

Falling out of love is very enlightening. For a short while you see the world with new eyes.

Happiness is a matter of one's most ordinary everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self. To be damned is for one's ordinary everyday mode of consciousness to be unremitting agonizing preoccupation with self.

Human affairs are not serious, but they have to be taken seriously.

I daresay anything can be made holy by being sincerely worshipped.

I think being a woman is like being Irish... Everyone says you're important and nice, but you take second place all the same.

In almost every marriage there is a selfish and an unselfish partner. A pattern is set up and soon becomes inflexible, of one person always making the demands and one person always giving way.

Jealousy is the most dreadfully involuntary of all sins.

Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real. Love, and so art and morals, is the discovery of reality.

No love is entirely without worth, even when the frivolous calls to the frivolous and the base to the base.

One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.

Only lies and evil come from letting people off.

Our actions are like ships which we may watch set out to sea, and not know when or with what cargo they will return to port.

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.

Perhaps misguided moral passion is better than confused indifference.

Perhaps when distant people on other planets pick up some wave- length of ours all they hear is a continuous scream.

Philosophy! Empty thinking by ignorant conceited men who think they can digest without eating!

Possibly, more people kill themselves and others out of hurt vanity than out of envy, jealousy, malice or desire for revenge.

The absolute yearning of one human body for another particular body and its indifference to substitutes is one of life's major mysteries.

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.

The chief requirement of the good life... is to live without any image of oneself.

The cry of equality pulls everyone down.

The notion that one will not survive a particular catastrophe is, in general terms, a comfort since it is equivalent to abolishing the catastrophe.

The sin of pride may be a small or a great thing in someone's life, and hurt vanity a passing pinprick or a self-destroying or even murderous obsession.

There is no substitute for the comfort supplied by the utterly taken-for-granted relationship.

Time, like the sea, unties all knots.

We can only learn to love by loving.

We defend ourselves with descriptions and tame the world by generalizing.

We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.

We shall be better prepared for the future if we see how terrible, how doomed the present is.

Youth is a marvelous garment.

Categories: Iris Murdoch, Quotes of the day


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