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    a. s. byatt Quotes

    Where would we be without inhibitions? They're quite useful things when you look at some of the things humans do if they lose them.
    — A. S. Byatt
    We talk about feelings. And about sex. And about bodies, and their gratification, violation, repair, decoration, deferred, maybe permanently deferred, mortality. Feelings are a bodily thing, and respecting them is called, is, kindness.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: kindness  body  sex 
     
    Reading a newspaper is like reading someone's letters, as opposed to a biography or a history. The writer really does not know what will happen. A novelist needs to feel what that is like.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: reading 
     
    In novels in general - and also on the television - we do live in a world where bodies is what we are. We do not talk about the spirit or the soul, and there is a sense that we no longer talk about beliefs, either Freudian or Marxist.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: belief  live  world  soul  body  novel  spirit 
     
    You learn a lot about love before you ever get there. You learn at least as much about love from books as you do from watching your parents.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: learn  book  parent 
     
    The point of painting is not really deception or imitation.
    — A. S. Byatt
    I am not sure how much good is done by moralising about fairy tales. This can be unsubtle - telling children that virtue will be rewarded, when in fact it is mostly simply the fact of being the central character that ensures a favourable outcome. Fairy tales are not, on the whole, parables.
    — A. S. Byatt
    For a long time, I felt instinctively irritated - sometimes repelled - by scientific friends' automatic use of the word 'mechanism' for automatic bodily processes. A machine was man-made; it was not a sentient being; a man was not a machine.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: time  men  friends  process  machine 
     
    I am suspicious of writers who go looking for issues to address. Writers are neither preachers nor journalists. Journalists know much more than most writers about what's going on in the world. And if you want to change things, you do journalism.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: world 
     
    There are things I take sides about, like capital punishment, which it seems to me there is only one side about: it is evil. But there are two or three sides to sexual harassment, and the moment you get into particular cases, there is injustice in every conceivable direction. It's a mess.
    — A. S. Byatt
    If a novelist tells you something she knows or thinks, and you believe her, that is not because either of you think she is God, but because she is doing her work - as a novelist.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: work  believe  god 
     
    I have never been able to read Agatha Christie - the pleasure is purely in the puzzle, and the reader is toyed with by someone who didn't decide herself who the killer was until the end of the writing.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: pleasure  writing  read 
     
    You learn different things through fiction. Historians are always making a plot about how certain things came to happen. Whereas a novelist looks at tiny little things and builds up a sort of map, like a painting, so that you see the shapes of things.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: learn  fiction  painting 
     
    I think literary theory has not been terribly good for English studies in a while. It's not that theory isn't interesting, but it isn't about books, or the idiosyncrasies and complexities of putting language together.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: language  book 
     
    I sort of mind living in a time when most of the literature is terribly personal. I suppose it's because I grew up on a love of history, philosophy, science and religion, but not to think too much about yourself.
    — A. S. Byatt
    I always say I write my own novels and the characters don't take control of me, but in fact, I look at the characters in the early stages and I think, 'What is he or she like,' and they slowly come together and they become the person they are.
    — A. S. Byatt
    My professional and human obsession is the nature of language, and my best relationships are with other writers. In many ways, I know George Eliot better than I know my husband.
    — A. S. Byatt
    The true exercise of freedom is - cannily and wisely and with grace - to move inside what space confines - and not seek to know what lies beyond and cannot be touched or tasted.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: freedom  grace  lies  true  space  exercise 
     
    Why do we take pleasure in gruesome death, neatly packaged as a puzzle to which we may find a satisfactory solution through clues - or if we are not clever enough, have it revealed by the all-powerful tale-teller at the end of the book? It is something to do with being reduced to, and comforted by, playing by the rules.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: death  pleasure  rules 
     
    America is full of readers of all different sorts who love books in many different ways, and I keep meeting them. And I think editors should look after them, and make less effort to please people who don't actually like books.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: people  america  book  meeting 
     
    I like to write about painting because I think visually. I see my writing as blocks of color before it forms itself. I think I also care about painting because I'm not musical. Painting to me is not a metaphor for writing, but something people do that can never be reduced to words.
    — A. S. Byatt
    If you want to teach women to be great writers, you should show them the best, and the best was often done by men. It was more often done by men than by women, if we're going to be truthful.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: men  women 
     
    I find the attempt to find things out, which scientists are possessed by, to be as human as breathing, or feeding, or sex. And so the science has to be in the novels as science and not just as metaphors.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: human  metaphor  sex  novel  scientist 
     
    I'm quite interested in my own mental processes, simply because I'm a failed scientist, and because I'm interested in how the brain and the mind works, and I like to avoid easy descriptions.
    — A. S. Byatt
    I think my characters with my fingers, I think my characters with my guts. But when I say I think them, that is what I do, I feel them with the sympathetic neurons and I work out with my brain what it is that I am trying to write about, or I can't do it.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: character  work  brain  write 
     
    I think that most of the children's writers live in the world that they've created, and their children are kind of phantoms that wander around the edge of it in the world, but actually the children's writers are the children.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: children  live  world  child 
     
    You know, it's a truism that writers for children must still be children themselves, deep down, must still feel childish feelings, and a child's surprise at the world.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: children  world  child 
     
    As a little girl, I didn't like stories about little girls. I liked stories about dragons and beasts and princes and princesses and fear and terror and the Four Musketeers and almost anything other than nice little girls making moral decisions about whether to tell the teacher about what the other little girl did or did not do.
    — A. S. Byatt
    Only write to me, write to me, I love to see the hop and skip and sudden starts of your ink.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: write 
     
    Lists are a form of power.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: power 
     
    Ice burns, and it is hard to the warm-skinned to distinguish one sensation, fire, from the other, frost.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: fire 
     
    Vocabularies are crossing circles and loops. We are defined by the lines we choose to cross or to be confined by.
    — A. S. Byatt
    Human beings love stories because they safely show us beginnings, middles and ends.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: human  stories 
     
    I think vestigially there's a synesthete in me, but not like a real one who immediately knows what colour Wednesday is.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: real 
     
    Pain hardens, and great pain hardens greatly, whatever the comforters say, and suffering does not ennoble, though it may occasionally lend a certain rigid dignity of manner to the suffering frame.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: pain  suffering  dignity 
     
    We two remake our world by naming it / Together, knowing what words mean for us / And for the other for whom current coin / Is cold speech-but we say, the tree, the pool, / And see the fire in the air, the sun, our sun, / Anybody's sun, the world's sun, but here, now / Particularly our sun....
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: world  fire  knowing 
     
    I have a dreadful fear that the more you try to prevent revealing the self, the more you do.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: fear  self 
     
    It is good for a man to invite his ghosts into his warm interior, out of the wild night, into the firelight, out of the howling dark.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: men  dark  night  wild  ghost 
     
    I am a creature of my pen. My pen is the best of me.
    — A. S. Byatt
    I think the names of colors are at the edge, between where language fails and where it's at its most powerful.
    — A. S. Byatt
    tags: language  powerful  fail 
     
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