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Top quotes by Doris Lessing on education, feminism, change, love and other things.

74 Top Quotes By Doris Lessing, The Author Of The Golden Notebook

Quick Facts

Famous As: Novelist, Short Story Writer

Born On: October 22, 1919

Died On: November 17, 2013

Born In: Kermanshah

Died At Age: 94

Doris May Lessing was a poet, playwright, novelist, short story writer and biographer from Great Britain, who went on to become one of the greatest authors in the world and won plenty of accolades across a career spanning several decades. She was born in Iran and also lived in erstwhile Rhodesia and South Africa. Lessing started writing stories when she was still a child and got them published in magazines in South Africa. ‘The Grass is Singing’, Lessing’s first novel,  was published in 1950 however it was with her novel ‘The Golden Notebook’, published 12 years later that she became a global sensation and subsequently went on to become one of the world’s foremost authors. Some of her best known works include ‘Children of Violence’, ‘The Good Terrorist’, ‘The Fifth Child’, ‘The Sweetest Dream’, ‘Memories of a Survivor’ and the 5 novel collection titled ‘Canopus in Argos’, among many other works, including short story collections and biographies. Lessing’s lifelong dedication to the craft of writing brought her plenty of accolades and awards from different parts of the world, including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007. Lessing’s work and life also provided a veritable feast of profound quotes that would be quoted for years to come. Here are the best ones.
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Whatever you're meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.

Doris Lessing

What's terrible is to pretend that second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don't need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you're capable of better.

Doris Lessing

Trust no friend without faults, and love a woman, but no angel.

Doris Lessing

There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.

Doris Lessing

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

Doris Lessing

As you get older, you don't get wiser. You get irritable.

Doris Lessing

I am a person who continually destroys the possibilities of a future because of the numbers of alternative viewpoints I can focus on the present.

Doris Lessing

Sometimes I dislike women, I dislike us all, because of our capacity for not-thinking when it suits us; we choose not to think when we are reaching our for happiness.

Doris Lessing

Words. Words. I play with words, hoping that some combination, even a chance combination, will say what I want.

Doris Lessing

Art is the Mirror of our betrayed ideals.

Doris Lessing

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

Doris Lessing

For she was of that generation who, having found nothing in religion, had formed themselves through literature.

Doris Lessing

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

Doris Lessing

How boring these emotions are that we're caught in and can't get free of, no matter how much we want to...

Doris Lessing

Laughter is by definition healthy.

Doris Lessing

We are all creatures of the stars.

Doris Lessing

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

Doris Lessing

Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty-and vise versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.

Doris Lessing

Novels give you the matrix of emotions, give you the flavour of a time in a way formal history cannot.

Doris Lessing

You simply don't get to be wise, mature, etc., unless you've been a raving cannibal for thirty years or so.

Doris Lessing

Loneliness, she thought, was craving for other people's company. But she did not know that loneliness can be an unnoticed cramping of the spirit for lack of companionship.

Doris Lessing

People are just cannibals unless they leave each other alone.

Doris Lessing

Advice to young writers? Always the same advice: learn to trust our own judgment, learn inner independence, learn to trust that time will sort the good from the bad– including your own bad.

Doris Lessing

A woman without a man cannot meet a man, any man, of any age, without thinking, even if it's for a half-second, 'Perhaps this is THE man.

Doris Lessing

All sanity depends on this: that it should be a delight to feel heat strike the skin, a delight to stand upright, knowing the bones moving easily under the flesh.

Doris Lessing

I don't know why I still find it so hard to accept that words are faulty and by their very nature innacurate

Doris Lessing

Anna, there's something very arrogant about insisting on the right to be right.

Doris Lessing

For women like me, integrity isn't chastity, it isn't fidelity, it isn't any of the old words. Integrity is the orgasm. That is something I haven't any control over.

Doris Lessing

Her own contempt for any forms of pressure society might put on her was so profound and instinctive that she as instinctively despised anyone who paid tribute to them.

Doris Lessing

We've got to believe in our beautiful impossible blueprints.

Doris Lessing

I hated the 1960's feminists," she says. "They were dogmatists, you see. In comes ideology, and out goes common sense. This is my experience of life.

Doris Lessing

I am increasingly afflicted by vertigo where words mean nothing

Doris Lessing

With a library you are free, not confined by temporary political climates. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one - but no one at all - can tell you what to read and when and how.

Doris Lessing

...We try to have things both ways. We’ve always refused to live by the book and the rule; but then why start worrying because the world doesn’t treat us by rule?

Doris Lessing

...She thinks, for the hundredth time, that in their emotional life all these intelligent men use a level so much lower than anything they use for work, that they might be different creatures.

Doris Lessing

...or like an old friend one has known too well and doesn't want to see.

Doris Lessing

A writer falls in love with an idea and gets carried away.

Doris Lessing

Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty.

Doris Lessing

What I had that others didn't was a capacity for sticking to it.

Doris Lessing

This is an inevitable and easily recognizable stage in every revolutionary movement: reformers must expect to be disowned by those who are only too happy to enjoy what has been won for them.

Doris Lessing

Bad luck for both of us, we are both boulder-pushers.

Doris Lessing

If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then cat is a diagram and pattern of suble air.

Doris Lessing

Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.

Doris Lessing

I have you for being normal, I hate you for it. You’re a normal human being. What right have you to that?

Doris Lessing

Sometimes I dislike women I dislike us all because of our capacity for not thinking when it suits us...

Doris Lessing

It's amazing what you find out about yourself when you write in the first person about someone very different from you.

Doris Lessing

I write because I've always written, can't stop. I am a writing animal. The way a silk worm is a silk-producing animal.

Doris Lessing

A hundred things to do, but only one thing to be," he said, obstinately. "But perhaps I don't feel myself worthy of such a wealth of opportunity?

Doris Lessing

Most novels, if they are successful at all, are original in the sense that they report the existence of an area of society, a type of person, not yet admitted to the general literate consciousness.

Doris Lessing

Yes, cannibals. People are just cannibals unless they leave each other alone.

Doris Lessing

So love is rest? The cosy corner? The little nook? Sometimes it ought to be. Sometimes it is.

Doris Lessing

Women often get dropped from memory, and then history.

Doris Lessing

...you can only value something if you've experienced it.

Doris Lessing

Little Tamar, forget the long ago. We are here and we are now, and that is all. We are making a new start.

Doris Lessing

But after all, to kind of like people, doc, puts you in a pretty privileged class for a start--so few citizens can afford to really kinda like people.

Doris Lessing

If someone cracks up, what does that mean? At what point does a person about to fall to pieces say: I'm cracking up? And if I were to crack up, what form would it take?

Doris Lessing

Her source of self respect was that she had not - as she put it - given up and crawled into safety somewhere. Into a safe marriage.

Doris Lessing

So very Russian," people around were murmuring. That they did meant this was an audience pretty low down on the scale of sophistication, otherwise they would be saying, "Just like us, isn't it?

Doris Lessing

As always he behaved as if he were an abstraction, not really there, a machine without a soul.

Doris Lessing

This is because the nature of this place is a strong emotion - "nostalgia" is their word for it - which means a longing for what has never been, or at least not in the form and shape imagined.

Doris Lessing

Women are the cowards they are because they have been semi-slaves for so long.

Doris Lessing

Yes, it’s because it’s one thing to think poor things and another to allow that African politics could have any resemblance at all to English politics—even such a long time ago.

Doris Lessing

A continuity isn't necessarily right, just because it's a continuity.' 'Yes, Ella, it is. It is. Believe me, it is,

Doris Lessing

For she was suffering that misery peculiar to the young, that they are going to be cheated by circumstances out of the full life every nerve and instinct is clamouring for.

Doris Lessing

It is not too much to say that when the word "blood" is pronounced, this is a sign that reason is about to depart.

Doris Lessing

A writer is the conscience of the world.

Doris Lessing

He leaves and she thinks for the hundredth time that in their emotional life all these intelligent men use a level so much lower than anything they use for work, that they might be different creatures.

Doris Lessing

The charge that the United Nations are using bacteriological warfare in Korea cannot be dismissed merely because it would be insane.

Doris Lessing

[I wrote] '...letters designed to hide behind.

Doris Lessing

Is it being said too often how much we in the West have suffered because of the long wars between Islam and Christianity, leaving us biased and with gaps in our information? I think not.

Doris Lessing

The boulder is the truth that the great men know by instinct, and the mountain is the stupidity of mankind.

Doris Lessing

The worst of a woman is that she expects you to make love to her, or to pretend to make love to her. —BARON CORVO

Doris Lessing

...Victim-eyes of impersonal tragedy, to be impersonal no longer.

Doris Lessing

People who lack economic and social power often expand their physical impact on the world." "-In Pursuit of Silence

Doris Lessing