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Margaret Atwood
Another belief of mine that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.
Margaret Atwood
I've never understood why people consider youth a time of freedom and joy. It's probably because they have forgotten their own.
Margaret Atwood
Gardening is not a rational act.
Margaret Atwood
I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one 'race' - the human race - and that we are all members of it.
Margaret Atwood
The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.
Margaret Atwood
A word after a word after a word is power.
Margaret Atwood
Time is compressed like the fist I close on my knee... I hold inside it the clues and solutions and the power for what I must do now.
Margaret Atwood
I don't think the relationship between novels and realities are one to one. Of course novels play different roles. It's essentially just a long narrative form. What you use that long narrative form for can be very different.
Margaret Atwood
If I were going to convert to any religion I would probably choose Catholicism because it at least has female saints and the Virgin Mary.
Margaret Atwood
If I pick up a book with spaceships on the cover, I want spaceships. If I see one with dragons, I want there to be dragons inside the book. Proper labeling. Ethical labeling. I don't want to open up my cornflakes and find that they're full of pebbles... You need to respect the reader enough not to call it something it isn't.
Margaret Atwood
Science fiction, to me, has not only things that wouldn't happen, but other planets.
Margaret Atwood
Popular art is the dream of society it does not examine itself.
Margaret Atwood
War is what happens when language fails.
Margaret Atwood
The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.
Margaret Atwood
Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It's like the tide going out, revealing whatever's been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future. The ruin you've made.
Margaret Atwood
I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary.
Margaret Atwood
How could I be sleeping with this particular man.... Surely only true love could justify my lack of taste.
Margaret Atwood
Hatred would have been easier. With hatred, I would have known what to do. Hatred is clear, metallic, one-handed, unwavering; unlike love.
Margaret Atwood
A truth should exist,it should not be usedlike this. If I love youis that a fact or a weapon?
Margaret Atwood
How could I have been so ignorant? she thinks. So stupid, so unseeing, so given over to carelessness. But without such ignorance, such carelessness, how could we live? If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next
Margaret Atwood
She imagines him imagining her. This is her salvation.In spirit she walks the city, traces its labyrinths, its dingy mazes: each assignation, each rendezvous, each door and stair and bed. What he said, what she said, what they did, what they did then. Even the times they argued, fought, parted, agonized, rejoined. How they'd loved to cut themselves on each other, taste their own blood. We were ruinous together, she thinks. But how else can we live, these days, except in the midst of ruin?
Margaret Atwood
This is how the girl who couldn't speak and the man who couldn't see fell in love.
Margaret Atwood
What is it the I'll want from you? Not love: that would be too much to ask. Not forgiveness, which isn't yours to bestow. Only a listener, perhaps; only someone who will see me. Don't prettify me though, whatever else you do: I have no wish to be a decorated skull. But I leave myself in your hands. What choice do I have? By the time you read this last page, that- if anywhere- is the only place I will be.
Margaret Atwood
The Eskimo has fifty-names for snow because it is important to them; there ought to be as many for love.
Margaret Atwood
If I love you, is that a fact or a weapon?
Margaret Atwood
A home filled with nothing but yourself. It's heavy, that lightness. It's crushing, that emptiness.
Margaret Atwood
Potential has a shelf life.
Margaret Atwood
Time folds you in its arms and gives you one last kiss, and then it flattens you out and folds you up and tucks you away until it's time for you to become someone else's past time, and then time folds again.
Margaret Atwood
Don't let the bastards grind you down.
Margaret Atwood
So much for endings. Beginnings are always more fun. True connoisseurs, however, are known to favor the stretch in between, since it's the hardest to do anything with. That's about all that can be said for plots, which anyway are just one thing after another, a what and a what and a what.
Margaret Atwood
I'm not senile, I snapped. If I burn the house down it will be on purpose.
Margaret Atwood
A Paradox, the doughnut hole. Empty space, once, but now they've learned to market even that. A minus quantity; nothing, rendered edible. I wondered if they might be used-metaphorically, of course-to demonstrate the existence of God. Does naming a sphere of nothingness transmute it into being?
Margaret Atwood
By now you must have guessed: I come from another planet. But I will never say to you, Take me to your leaders. Even I - unused to your ways though I am - would never make that mistake. We ourselves have such beings among us, made of cogs, pieces of paper, small disks of shiny metal, scraps of coloured cloth. I do not need to encounter more of them.Instead I will say, Take me to your trees. Take me to your breakfasts, your sunsets, your bad dreams, your shoes, your nouns. Take me to your fingers; take me to your deaths.These are worth it. These are what I have come for.
Margaret Atwood
The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.
Margaret Atwood
The truth is seldom welcome, especially at dinner.
Margaret Atwood
It must have been then that I began to lose faith in reasonable argument as the sole measure of truth.
Margaret Atwood
There were a lot of gods. Gods always come in handy, they justify almost anything.
Margaret Atwood
Our heaven is their hell, said God. I like a balanced universe.
Margaret Atwood
You might even provide a Heaven for them. We need You for that. Hell we can make for ourselves.
Margaret Atwood
How could I have been so ignorant? she thinks. So stupid, so unseeing, so given over to carelessness. But without such ignorance, such carelessness, how could we live? If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next
Margaret Atwood
We understand more than we know.
Margaret Atwood
We shouldn't have been so scornful; we should have had compassion. But compassion takes work, and we were young.
Margaret Atwood
Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.
Margaret Atwood
There I am, in the Grade Six class picture, smiling broadly. Happy as a clam, is what my mother says for happy. I am happy as a clam: hardshelled, firmly closed.
Margaret Atwood
Romance takes place in the middle distance. Romance is looking in at yourself through a window clouded with dew. Romance means leaving things out: where life grunts and shuffles, romance only sighs.
Margaret Atwood
Neither of us says the word love, not once. It would be tempting fate; it would be romance, bad luck.
Margaret Atwood
I was taking something away from her, although she didn't know it. I was filching. Never mind that it was something she apparently didn't want or had no use for, had rejected even; still, it was hers, and if I took it away, this mysterious it I couldn't quite define.
Margaret Atwood
We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability?
Margaret Atwood
One of the gravestones in the cemetery near the earliest church has an anchor on it and an hourglass, and the words In Hope.In Hope. Why did they put that above a dead person? Was it the corpse hoping, or those still alive?
Margaret Atwood
...we must be a beacon of hope, because if you tell people there's nothing they can do, they will do worse than nothing.
Margaret Atwood
I planned my death carefully, unlike my life, which meandered along from one thing to another, despite my feeble attempts to control it.
Margaret Atwood
Glenn used to say the reason you can't really imagine yourself being dead was that as soon as you say, 'I'll be dead,' you've said the word I, and so you're still alive inside the sentence. And that's how people got the idea of the immortality of the soul - it was a consequence of grammar.
Margaret Atwood
If you really want to stay the same age you are now forever and ever, she'd be thinking, try jumping off the roof: death's a sure-fire method for stopping time.
Margaret Atwood
The reason they invented coffins, to lock the dead in, preserve them, they put makeup on them; they didn't want them spreading or changing into anything else. The stone with the name and date was on them to weight them down.
Margaret Atwood
The Chorus Line:A Rope-Jumping Rhymewe are the maidsthe ones you killedthe ones you failedwe danced in airour bare feet twitchedit was not fairwith every goddess, queen, and bitchfrom there to hereyou scratched your itchwe did much lessthan what you didyou judged us badyou had the spearyou had the wordat your commandwe scrubbed the bloodof our deadparamours from floors, from chairsfrom stairs, from doors,we knelt in waterwhile you staredat our bare feetit was not fairyou licked our fearit gave you pleasureyou raised your handyou watched us fallwe danced on airthe ones you failedthe ones you killed
Margaret Atwood
I have periods now, like normal girls; I too am among the knowing, I too can sit out volleyball games and go to the nurse's for aspirin and waddle along the halls with a pad like a flattened rabbit tail wadded between my legs, sopping with liver-colored blood.
Margaret Atwood
You fit into melike a hook into an eyea fish hookan open eye
Margaret Atwood
I am tempted to think that to be despised by her sex is a very great compliment to a woman.
Margaret Atwood
Kill what you can't savewhat you can't eat throw outwhat you can't throw out buryWhat you can't bury give awaywhat you can't give away you must carry with you,it is always heavier than you thought.
Margaret Atwood
Where do the words gowhen we have said them?
Margaret Atwood
with shrunken fingerswe ate our oranges and bread,shivering in the parked car;though we know we had neverbeen there before,we knew we had been there before.
Margaret Atwood
Then there's the twoof us. This wordis far too short for us, it has onlyfour letters, too sparseto fill those deep barevacuums between the starsthat press on us with their deafness.It's not love we don't wishto fall into, but that fear.This word is not enough but it willhave to do. It's a singlevowel in this metallicsilence, a mouth that saysO again and again in wonderand pain, a breath, a fingergrip on a cliffside. You canhold on or let go.
Margaret Atwood
Fatigue is here, in my body, in my legs and eyes. That is what gets you in the end. Faith is only a word, embroidered.
Margaret Atwood
By telling you anything at all I'm at least believing in you, I believe you're there, I believe you into being. Because I'm telling you this story I will your existence. I tell, therefore you are.
Margaret Atwood
Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.
Margaret Atwood
All stories are about wolves. All worth repeating, that is. Anything else is sentimental drivel.All of them?Sure, he says. Think about it. There's escaping from the wolves, fighting the wolves, capturing the wolves, taming the wolves. Being thrown to the wolves, or throwing others to the wolves so the wolves will eat them instead of you. Running with the wolf pack. Turning into a wolf. Best of all, turning into the head wolf. No other decent stories exist.
Margaret Atwood
It's impossible to say a thing exactly the way it was, because of what you say can never be exact, you always have to leave something out, there are too many parts, sides, crosscurrents, nuances; too many gestures, which could mean this or that, too many shapes which can never be fully described, too many flavors, in the air or on the tongue, half-colors, too many.
Margaret Atwood
Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be.
Margaret Atwood
Good writing takes place at intersections, at what you might call knots, at places where the society is snarled or knotted up.
Margaret Atwood
Everyone thinks writers must know more about the inside of the human head, but that's wrong. They know less, that's why they write. Trying to find out what everyone else takes for granted.
Margaret Atwood
For me the experience of writing is really an experience of losing control.… I think it's very much like dreaming or like surfing. You go out there and wait for a wave, and when it comes it takes you somewhere and you don't know where it'll go.
Margaret Atwood
I learned about religion the way most children learned about sex, [in the schoolyard]. . . . They terrified me by telling me there was a dead man in the sky watching everything I did and I retaliated by explaining where babies came from. Some of their mothers phoned mine to complain, though I think I was more upset than they were: they didn't believe me but I believed them.
Margaret Atwood
Maybe I don't really want to know what's going on. Maybe I'd rather not know. Maybe I couldn't bear to know. The Fall was a fall from innocence to knowledge.
Margaret Atwood
Knowing was a temptation. What you don't know won't tempt you.
Margaret Atwood
So we couldn't mingle with them, but we could eavesdrop. We got our knowledge that way--we caught it like germs.
Margaret Atwood
Maybe I don't really want to know what's going on. Maybe I'd rather not know. Maybe I couldn't bear to know.The Fall was a fall from innocence to knowledge.
Margaret Atwood
If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next
Margaret Atwood
Ignoring isn't the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.
Margaret Atwood
Better not to invent her in her absence. Better to wait until she's actually here. Then he can make her up as she goes along.
Margaret Atwood
If you worked out enough, maybe the man would too. Maybe you would be able to work it out together, as if the two of you were a puzzle that could be solved; otherwise, one of you, most likely the man, taking his addictive body with him and leaving you with bad withdrawal, which you could counteract by exercise. If you didn't work it out it was because one of you had the wrong attitude.
Margaret Atwood
You shouldn't do that, said Laura. You could set yourself on fire.
Margaret Atwood
In the end, we'll all become stories
Margaret Atwood
He has to find more and better ways of occupying his time. His time, what a bankrupt idea, as if he's been given a box of time belonging to him alone, stuffed to the brim with hours and minutes that he can spend like money. Trouble is, the box has holes in it and the time is running out, no matter what he does with it.
Margaret Atwood
Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. If you can bend space you can bend time also, and if you knew enough and could move faster than light you could travel backward in tie and exist in two places at once.
Margaret Atwood
Time: old cold time, old sorrow, settling down in layers like silt in a pond.
Margaret Atwood
All this will happen because people have neglected the basic lessons of Science, they have gone in for politics and religion and wars instead, and sought out passionate excuses for killing one another. Science on the other hand is dispassionate and without bias, it is the only universal language. The language is numbers. When at last we are up to our ears in death and garbage, we will look to Science to clean up our mess.
Margaret Atwood
Perhaps they were looking for passion; perhaps they delved into this book as into a mysterious parcel - a gift box at the bottom of which, hidden in layers of rustling tissue paper, lay something they'd always longed for but couldn't ever grasp.
Margaret Atwood
We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces on the edges of print.
Margaret Atwood
That is how we writers all started: by reading. We heard the voice of a book speaking to us.
Margaret Atwood
I lie on the floor, washed by nothing and hanging on. I cry at night. I am afraid of hearing voices, or a voice. I have come to the edge, of the land. I could get pushed over.
Margaret Atwood
Modesty is invisibility...Never forget it. To be seen
Margaret Atwood
Fear is a powerful stimulant.
Margaret Atwood
Why is it we want so badly to memorialize ourselves? Even while we're still alive. We wish to assert our existence, like dogs peeing on fire hydrants. We put on display our framed photographs, our parchment diplomas, our silver-plated cups; we monogram our linen, we carve our names on trees, we scrawl them on washroom walls. It's all the same impulse. What do we hope from it? Applause, envy, respect? Or simply attention, of any kind we can get?At the very least we want a witness. We can't stand the idea of our own voices falling silent finally, like a radio running down.
Margaret Atwood
What am I living for and what am I dying for are the same question.
Margaret Atwood
This is what I miss, Cordelia: not something that's gone, but something that will never happen. Two old women giggling over their tea.
Margaret Atwood
I don't smile. Why tempt her to friendship?
Margaret Atwood
Perhaps its not the world that is soundless but we who are deaf.
Margaret Atwood
It wasn't so easy though, ending the war. A war is a huge fire; the ashes from it drift far, and settle slowly.
Margaret Atwood
Could it be he was feeling a certain nostalgia for the war, despite its stench and meaningless carnage? For that questionless life of instinct?
Margaret Atwood
How did the war creep up? How did it gather itself together? What was it made from? What secrets, lies, betrayals? What loves and hatreds? What sums of money, what metals?
Margaret Atwood
When you're young, you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, crumpling time up in your hands, tossing it away. You're your own speeding car. You think you can get rid of things, and people too
Margaret Atwood
But my dreaming self refuses to be consoled. It continues to wander, aimless, homeless, alone. It cannot be convinced of its safety by any evidence drawn from my waking life.
Margaret Atwood
In my dreams of this city I am always lost.
Margaret Atwood
from under the ground, from under the waters,they clutch at us, they clutch at us,we won't let go.
Margaret Atwood
In the daylight we knowwhat's gone is gone,but at night it's different.Nothing gets finished,not dying, not mourning;
Margaret Atwood
We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.We lived in the gaps between the stories.
Margaret Atwood
There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it.
Margaret Atwood
The sun is free, it is still there to be enjoyed.
Margaret Atwood
I know why there is no glass, in front of the watercolor picture of blue irises, and why the window opens only partly and why the glass in it is shatter-proof. It isn't running away they're afraid of. We wouldn't get far. It's those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge.
Margaret Atwood
These things sneak up on him for no reason, these flashes of irrational happiness. It's probably a vitamin deficiency.
Margaret Atwood
I always thought eating was a ridiculous activity anyway. I'd get out of it myself if I could, though you've got to do it to stay alive, they tell me.
Margaret Atwood
Her metaphors for her children included barnacles encrusting a ship and limpets clinging to a rock.
Margaret Atwood
Here's a health to our Captain, so gallant and freeWhether stuck on a rock or asleep 'neath a treeOr rolled in the arms of some nymph of the seaWhich is where we would all like to be, man!
Margaret Atwood
According to Tobias, women hang around longer because they're less capable of indignation and better at being humiliated, for what is old age but one long string of indignities? What person of integrity would put up with it?
Margaret Atwood
Our big mistake was teaching them to read. We won't do that again.
Margaret Atwood
My self is a thing that I must now compose...as one composes a speech. What I must present is a 'made' thing. Not something born.
Margaret Atwood
To have them putting him on, trying him on, trying him out while he himself puts them on like a sock over a foot onto the stub of himself--his extra sensitive thumb, his tentacle, his delicate, stalked slug's eye which extrudes, expands, winces and shrivels back into himself when touched wrongly, grows big again. Bulging a little at the tip, traveling forward as if along a leaf into them, avid for vision. To achieve vision in this way; this journey into a darkness that is composed of women--a woman--who can see in darkness while he himself strains blindly forward.
Margaret Atwood
If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next
Margaret Atwood
We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.
Margaret Atwood
Vanity is becoming a nuisance, I can see why women give it up, eventually. But I'm not ready for that yet.
Margaret Atwood
Forgiving men is so much easier than forgiving women.
Margaret Atwood
There is never only one, of anyone
Margaret Atwood
As we know from the study of history, no new system can impose itself upon a previous one without incorporating many of the elements to be found in the latter...
Margaret Atwood
Like preachers, I sell vision,like perfume ads, desireor its facsimile. Like jokesor war, it's all in the timing.I sell men back their worse suspicions:that everything's for sale,
Margaret Atwood
You can't lead if no one will follow.
Margaret Atwood
When any civilization is dust and ashes, he said, art is all that's left over. Images, words, music. Imaginative structures. Meaning
Margaret Atwood
I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most.
Margaret Atwood
The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose.
Margaret Atwood
If writing novels - and reading them - have any redeeming social value, it's probably that they force you to imagine what it's like to be somebody else. Which increasingly is something we all need to know.
Margaret Atwood
What did they want from it? Lechery, smut, confirmation of their worst suspicions. But perhaps some of them wanted, despite themselves, to be seduced. Perhaps they were looking for passion; perhaps they delved into this book as into a mysterious parcel - a gift box at the bottom of which, hidden in layers of rustling tissue paper, lay something they'd always longed for but couldn't ever grasp.
Margaret Atwood
I wasn't discriminating in my reading, and I'm still not. I read then primarily to be entertained, as I do now. And I'm not saying that apologetically: I feel that if you remove the initial gut response from reading
Margaret Atwood
We want to get there faster. Get where? Wherever we are not. But a human soul can only go as fast as a man can walk, they used to say. In that case, where are all the souls? Left behind. They wander here and there, slowly, dim lights flickering in the marshes at night, looking for us. But they're not nearly fast enough, not for us, we're way ahead of them, they'll never catch up. That's why we can go so fast: our souls don't weigh us down.
Margaret Atwood
As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it; but what they say to us is imbued with the obscurity of the matrix out of which they come; and try as we may, we cannot always decipher them precisely in the clearer light of our day.
Margaret Atwood
How easy it is to invent a humanity, for anyone at all.
Margaret Atwood
Of course there are mothers,squeezing their breastsdry, pawning their bodies,shedding teeth for their children,or that's our fond belief.But remember - Hanseland Gretel were dumped in the forestbecause their parents were starving.
Margaret Atwood
What else can I do? Once you've gone this far you aren't fit for anything else. Something happens to your mind. You're overqualified, overspecialized, and everybody knows it. Nobody in any other game would be crazy enough to hire me. I wouldn't even make a good ditch-digger, I'd start tearing apart the sewer-system, trying to pick-axe and unearth all those chthonic symbols - pipes, valves, cloacal conduits... No, no. I'll have to be a slave in the paper-mines for all time.
Margaret Atwood
Nature is to zoos as God is to churches.
Margaret Atwood
Nature is an expert in cost-benefit analysis,' she says. 'Although she does her accounting a little differently. As for debts, she always collects in the long run...
Margaret Atwood
As Charles Darwin said,'The economy shown by Nature in her resources is striking,'' says the Spirit. 'All wealth comes from Nature. Without it, there wouldn't be any economics. The primary wealth is food, not money. Therefore anything that concerns the handling of the land also concerns me.
Margaret Atwood
...the values ascribed to the Indian will depend on what the white writer feels about Nature, and America has always had mixed feelings about that. At one end of the spectrum is Thoreau, wishing to immerse himself in swamps for the positive vibrations; at the other end is Benjamin Franklin, who didn't like Nature. [p.91]
Margaret Atwood
In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood
They will not let you have peace, they don't want you to have anything they don't have themselves.
Margaret Atwood
But who can remember pain, once it's over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.
Margaret Atwood
What you don't know won't hurt you. A dubious maxim: sometimes what you don't know can hurt you very much.
Margaret Atwood
She did understand, or at least she understood that she was supposed to understand. She understood, and said nothing about it, and prayed for the power to forgive, and did forgive. But he can't have found living with her forgiveness all that easy. Breakfast in a haze of forgiveness: coffee with forgiveness, porridge with forgiveness, forgiveness on the buttered toast. He would have been helpless against it, for how can you repudiate something that is never spoken? She resented, too, the nurse, or the many nurses, who had attended my father in the various hospitals. She wished him to owe his recovery to her alone
Margaret Atwood
Longed for him. Got him. Shit.