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A collection of quotes by Margaret Attwood on age, animals, books, childhood, climate change, democracy, greed, humanity, inspiration, ignorance, literature, life, soul, technology, war, time, truth, writing etc.

227 Powerful Quotes By Margaret Atwood That Will Enlighten You

Quick Facts

Also Listed In

Famous As
Writer, Environmental Activist

Born On
18 November 1939 AD

Born In
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Age
78

Margaret Atwood is a celebrated Canadian poet, essayist, novelist and environmental activist. She has a wide range of credentials in technical field, but she is known for her work in literature. A majority of her work is inspired by fairy tales and myths from her childhood. She is the winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke and Prince of Asturias award for Literature. She was also inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame and nominated for the Booker’s Prize five times, eventually winning it once. Margaret Atwood has often portrayed female characters being suppressed due to patriarchy. Her writings press for the need of women empowerment in the face of prevalent gender bias. She is an ardent supporter of speculative fiction which she believes is different from the science fiction due to its realism. We have curated Margaret Atwood’s quotes from her writings, thoughts, observations, and general life. A collection of quotes by Margaret Attwood on age, animals, books, childhood, climate change, democracy, greed, humanity, inspiration, ignorance, literature, life, soul, technology, war, time, truth, writing etc.

War is what happens when language fails.

- 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

A word after a word after a word is power.

- Margaret Atwood

Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.

- Margaret Atwood

Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead, and democracy - which many believe goes hand in hand with it - will be dead as well.

- Margaret Atwood

A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together.

- 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

All fiction is about people, unless it's about rabbits pretending to be people. It's all essentially characters in action, which means characters moving through time and changes taking place, and that's what we call 'the plot'.

- Margaret Atwood

Heroes need monsters to establish their heroic credentials. You need something scary to overcome.

- Margaret Atwood

Our problem right now is that we're so specialized that if the lights go out, there are a huge number of people who are not going to know what to do. But within every dystopia there's a little utopia.

- Margaret Atwood

Reality simply consists of different points of view.

- Margaret Atwood

Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.

- Cat's Eye, Margaret Atwood

The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation. I don't think I solve problems in my poetry; I think I uncover the problems.

- Margaret Atwood

Every aspect of human technology has a dark side, including the bow and arrow.

- Margaret Atwood

Some people mistakenly think nature is very nice and benevolent and never betrays.

- Margaret Atwood

You're never going to kill storytelling, because it's built into the human plan. We come with it.

- Margaret Atwood

The thing about delirium is you think it's great, but it actually isn't.

- Margaret Atwood

Gardening is not a rational act.

- Margaret Atwood

Another belief of mine; that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.

- Margaret Atwood

Science fiction, to me, has not only things that wouldn't happen, but other planets.

- Margaret Atwood

Every utopia - let's just stick with the literary ones - faces the same problem: What do you do with the people who don't fit in?

- Margaret Atwood

The society in 'The Handmaid's Tale' is a throwback to the early Puritans whom I studied extensively at Harvard under Perry Miller, to whom the book is dedicated.

- Margaret Atwood

There may not be one Truth - there may be several truths - but saying that is not to say that reality doesn't exist.

- Margaret Atwood

When I was 16, I started publishing all kinds of things in school magazines.

- Margaret Atwood

Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I'm a realist.

- Margaret Atwood

Social media is called social media for a reason. It lends itself to sharing rather than horn-tooting.

- Margaret Atwood

Religions in general have to rediscover their roots. In Hinduism and the Koran, animals are described as equals. If you walk into a cathedral and look at the decorations of early Christianity, there are vines, animals, creatures and birds thriving all over the stonework.

- Margaret Atwood

I'm a person of whim, and easily distracted. I don't like multitasking. When I'm doing one thing, I like to do just that thing.

- Margaret Atwood

An eye for an eye only leads to more blindness.

- Margaret Atwood

I'm a strict, strict agnostic. It's very different from a casual, 'I don't know.' It's that you cannot present as knowledge something that is not knowledge. You can present it as faith, you can present it as belief, but you can't present it as fact.

- Margaret Atwood

I hate to tell you this, but you will never actually go to a galaxy far, far away and encounter Darth Vader. That's science fiction; it isn't going to happen.

- Margaret Atwood

The object is very clear in the fight against racism; you have reasons why you're opposed to it. But when you're writing a novel, you don't want the reader to come out of it voting yes or no to some question. Life is more complicated than that.

- Margaret Atwood

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.

- Bluebeard's Egg, Margaret Atwood

If I waited for perfection... I would never write a word.

- Margaret Atwood

If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia.

- Margaret Atwood

The beginning of Canadian cultural nationalism was not 'Am I really that oppressed?' but 'Am I really that boring?'

- Margaret Atwood

You will always have partial points of view, and you'll always have the story behind the story that hasn't come out yet. And any form of journalism you're involved with is going to be up against a biased viewpoint and partial knowledge.

- Margaret Atwood

I was once a graduate student in Victorian literature, and I believe as the Victorian novelists did, that a novel isn't simply a vehicle for private expression, but that it also exists for social examination. I firmly believe this.

- Margaret Atwood

Canada was built on dead beavers.

- Margaret Atwood

If you're put on a pedestal, you're supposed to behave yourself like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around.

- Margaret Atwood

Don't let the bastards grind you down.

- The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

Please don't make the mistake of thinking that 'Oryx and Crake' is anti-science. Science is a way of knowing, and a tool. Like all ways of knowing and tools, it can be turned to bad uses. And it can be bought and sold, and it often is. But it is not in itself bad. Like electricity, it's neutral.

- Margaret Atwood

A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there's less of you.

- Margaret Atwood

Vampires get the joy of flying around and living forever, werewolves get the joy of animal spirits. But zombies, they're not rich, or aristocratic, they shuffle around. They're a group phenomenon, they're not very fast, they're quite sickly. So what's the pleasure of being one?

- 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

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

The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.

- Margaret Atwood

The threat to the planet is us. It's actually not a threat to the planet - it's a threat to us.

- Margaret Atwood

Genres aren't closed boxes. Stuff flows back and forth across the borders all the time.

- Margaret Atwood

I was warped early by Ray Bradbury and Edgar Allan Poe. I was very fond of Franz Kafka.

- Margaret Atwood

If social stability goes pear-shaped, you have a choice between anarchy and dictatorship. Most people will opt for more security, even if they have to give up some personal freedom.

- Margaret Atwood

Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.

- Margaret Atwood

Speculative fiction encompasses that which we could actually do. Sci-fi is that which we're probably not going to see.

- Margaret Atwood

When things are really dismal, you can laugh, or you can cave in completely.

- Margaret Atwood

Once you publish a book, it is out of your control. You cannot dictate how people read it.

- Margaret Atwood

You could tell 'The Handmaid's Tale' from a male point of view. People have mistakenly felt that the women are oppressed, but power tends to organise itself in a pyramid. I could pick a male narrator from somewhere in that pyramid. It would interesting.

- Margaret Atwood

If you feel that there's the author and then the character, then the book is not working. People have a habit of identifying the author with the narrator, and you can't, obviously, be all of the narrators in all of your books, or else you'd be a very strange person indeed.

- Margaret Atwood

Myths can't be translated as they did in their ancient soil. We can only find our own meaning in our own time.

- Margaret Atwood

There's a difference between describing and evoking something. You can describe something and be quite clinical about it. To evoke it, you call it up in the reader. That's what writers do when they're good.

- Margaret Atwood

If you're waiting for the perfect moment, you'll never write a thing because it will never arrive. I have no routine. I have no foolproof anything. There's nothing foolproof.

- Margaret Atwood

Their mothers had finally caught up to them and been proven right. There were consequences after all but they were the consequences to things you didn't even know you'd done.

- Margaret Atwood

This above all, to refuse to be a victim.

- Margaret Atwood

For years I wanted to be older, and now I am.

- 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

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

As soon as you have a language that has a past tense and a future tense you're going to say, 'Where did we come from, what happens next?' The ability to remember the past helps us plan the future.

- Margaret Atwood

Sooner or later, I hate to break it to you, you're gonna die, so how do you fill in the space between here and there? It's yours. Seize your space.

- Margaret Atwood

When I am writing fiction, I believe I am much better organized, more methodical - one has to be when writing a novel. Writing poetry is a state of free float.

- Margaret Atwood

Science is a tool, and we invent tools to do things we want. It's a question of how those tools are used by people.

- Margaret Atwood

My brother and I were both good at science, and we were both good at English literature. Either one of us could have gone either way.

- Margaret Atwood

I began writing at the age of 5, but there was a dark period between the ages of 8 and 16 when I didn't write. I started again at 16 and have no idea why, but it was suddenly the only thing I wanted to do.

- Margaret Atwood

Because I am a mother, I am capable of being shocked: as I never was when I was not one.

- Margaret Atwood

Popular art is the dream of society; it does not examine itself.

- Margaret Atwood

A ratio of failures is built into the process of writing. The wastebasket has evolved for a reason.

- Margaret Atwood

You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer.

- Margaret Atwood

Longed for him. Got him. Shit.

- Margaret Atwood

The story as told in The Odyssey doesn't hold water. There are too many inconsistencies.

- Margaret Atwood

Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.

- The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

All fat women look the same; they all look 42.

- Margaret Atwood

I'm not interested in cutting the feet off my characters or stretching them to make them fit my certain political view.

- Margaret Atwood

As an artist your first loyalty is to your art. Unless this is the case, you're going to be a second-rate artist.

- Margaret Atwood

I tend to feel if people say they're going to do something, they will, if given the chance.

- 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

Our generation in the west was lucky: we had readymade gateways. We had books, paper, teachers, schools and libraries. But many in the world lack these luxuries. How do you practice without such tryout venues?

- Margaret Atwood

I got into trouble a while ago for saying that I thought the internet led to increased literacy - people scolded me about the shocking grammar to be found online - but I was talking about fundamentals: quite simply, you can't use the net unless you can read.

- Margaret Atwood

Reading and writing are connected. I learned to read very early so I could read the comics, which I then started to draw.

- 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.

- The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

We shouldn't be saying 'Save the planet'; we should be saying: 'Save viable conditions in which people can live.' That's what we're dealing with here.

- Margaret Atwood

I'm the only person you've ever met who has read Longfellow.

- Margaret Atwood

I'm bad at picking heroes.

- Margaret Atwood

I grew up in the golden age of Flash Gordon and sci-fi.

- Margaret Atwood

I grew up with the biologists. I know how they think.

- Margaret Atwood

I have a big following among the biogeeks of this world. Nobody ever puts them in books.

- Margaret Atwood

Canada is a balloon-puncturing country. You are not really allowed to be an icon unless you also make an idiot of yourself.

- Margaret Atwood

I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most.

- Margaret Atwood

I learned to read very early so I could read the comics, which I then started to draw.

- Margaret Atwood

Victorian literature was my subject at Harvard.

- Margaret Atwood

I grew up in the north woods of Canada. You had to know certain things about survival. Wilderness survival courses weren't very formalized when I was growing up, but I was taught certain things about what to do if I got lost in the woods.

- Margaret Atwood

Foreignness is all around. Only in the heart of the heart of the country, namely the heart of the United States, can you avoid such a thing. In the center of an empire, you can think of your experience as universal. Outside the empire or on the fringes of the empire, you cannot.

- Margaret Atwood

If one of the arguments against eating meat is to do with cruelty and animal intelligence, then lab meat avoids that. There's also the environmental argument for it.

- Margaret Atwood