I need words and print… I need print like an addict. I could live without it, perhaps. But I hope I never have to try.
Some of what we read in classical literature is not relative to our condition, but then many women novelists and poets have turned it upside down and told the stories from the other point of view.
I confidently predict the collapse of capitalism and the beginning of history. Something will go wrong in the machinery that converts money into money, the banking system will collapse totally, and we will be left having to barter to stay alive. Those who can dig in their garden will have a better chance than the rest. I’ll be all right; I’ve got a few veg.
I actually remember feeling delight, at two o’clock in the morning, when the baby woke for his feed, because I so longed to have another look at him.
Sometimes it seems the only accomplishment my education ever bestowed on me was the ability to think in quotations.
You have to be careful what you imagine, because the act of imagining is the act of encouraging yourself to be a certain kind of person.
Our desire to conform is greater than our respect for objective facts.
There are some writers who wrote too much. There are others who wrote enough. There are yet others who wrote nothing like enough to satisfy their admirers, and Jane Austen is certainly one of these.
I’d rather be at the end of a dying tradition, which I admire, than at the beginning of a tradition which I deplore.
When nothing is sure, everything is possible.
The human mind can bear plenty of reality but not too much intermittent gloom.
Novels, since the birth of the genre, have been full of rejected, seduced, and abandoned maidens, whose proper fate is to die.
Nothing fails like failure
The women are always vixens or monsters. They can’t just be normal people in the book.
What foolsmiddle-classgirls are to expect other people to respect the same gods as themselves and E M Forster.
Men and women can never be close. They can hardly speak to one another in the same language. But are compelled, forever, to try, and therefore even in defeat there is no peace.
Why can’t people be both flexible and efficient?
I used to be a reasonably careless and adventurous person before I had children; now I am morbidly obsessed by seat-belts and constantly afraid that low-flying aircraft will drop on my children’s school.
How extraordinary people are, that they get themselves into such situations where they go on doing what they dislike doing, and have no need or obligation to do, simply because it seems to be expected.
Poverty, therefore, was comparative. One measured it by a sliding scale. One was always poor, in terms of those who were richer.
I have switched on this modern laptop machine. And I have told myself that I must resist the temptation to start playing solitaire upon it.
On one thing professionals and amateurs agree: mothers can’t win.
England’s not a bad country? It’s just a mean, cold, ugly, divided, tired, clapped-out, post-imperial, post- industrial slag-heap covered in polystyrene hamburger cartons. 286
The middle years, caught between children and parents, free of neither: the past stretches back too densely, it is too thickly populated, the future has not yet thinned out.
I’ve always thought that very few people grow old as admirably as academics. At least books never let them down.
Lord knows what incommunicable small terrors infants go through, unknown to all. We disregard them, we say they forget, because they have not the words to make us remember. … By the time they learn to speak they have forgotten the details of their complaints, and so we never know. They forget so quickly, we say, because we cannot contemplate the fact that they never forget.
There are some people who cannot get onto a train without imagining that they are about to voyage into the significant unknown; as though the notion of movement were inseparably connected with the notion of discovery, as though each displacement of the body were a displacement of the soul.
Auntie Phyl’s last months in the care home were extra pieces. Age is unnecessary. Some of us, like my mother, are fortunate enough to die swiftly and suddenly, in full possession of our faculties and our fate, but more and more of us will be condemned to linger, at the mercy of anxious or indifferent relatives, careless strangers, unwanted medical interventions, increasing debility, incontinence, memory loss. We live too long, but, like the sibyl hanging in her basket in the cave at Cumae, we find it hard to die.
Because if one has an image, however dim and romantic, of a journey’s end, one may, in the end, surely reach it, after no matter how many detours and deceptions and abandonings of hope. And hope could never have been entirely abandoned, even in the worst days.
What really annoys me are the ones who write to say, I am doing your book for my final examinations and could you please tell me what the meaning of it is. I find it just so staggering–that you’re supposed to explain the meaning of your book to some total stranger! If I knew what the meanings of my books were, I wouldn’t have bothered to write them.
Family life itself, that safest, most traditional, most approved of female choices, is not a sanctuary: It is, perpetually, a dangerous place.
There would be more genuine rejoicing at the discovery of a complete new novel by Jane Austen than any other literary discovery, short of a new major play by Shakespeare.
Scenery can be a violent stimulant.
Lord knows what incommunicable small terrors infants go through, unknown to all.
If I knew what the meanings of my books were, I wouldn’t have bothered to write them.