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Quotes of the day: Doris Lessing

Published Tuesday, October 21, 2014 @ 9:35 PM EDT
Oct 21 2014

Doris May Lessing (October 22, 1919 – November 17, 2013) was a Nobel prize-winning British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. Her novels include The Grass is Singing (1950), the sequence of five novels collectively called Children of Violence (1952–69), The Golden Notebook (1962), The Good Terrorist (1985), and five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos: Archives (1979–1983). (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


I'm 88 years old and they can't give the Nobel to someone who's dead, so I think they were probably thinking they'd probably better give it to me now before I've popped off.

In university they don't tell you that the greater part of the law is learning to tolerate fools.

It can be considered a rule that the probable duration of an Empire may be prognosticated by the degree to which its rulers believe in their own propaganda.

It is terrible to destroy a person's picture of himself in the interests of truth or some other abstraction.

Parents should leave books lying around marked 'forbidden' if they want their children to read.

Small things amuse small minds.

Space or science fiction has become a dialect for our time.

That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.

The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven't changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don't change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.

There's only one real sin, and that is to persuade oneself that the second-best is anything but the second-best.

Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.

We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known.

What matters most is that we learn from living.

What society doesn't realize is that in the past, ordinary people respected learning. They respected books, and they don't now, or not very much. That whole respect for serious literature and learning has disappeared.

What's terrible is to pretend that the second-rate is the first- rate.

Why should we suppose that what we remember is more important than what we forget?


(October 22 is also the birthday of Timothy Leary.)

Categories: Doris Lessing, Quotes of the day


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