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Previous weeks' quotations

2001

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Jan 2001

3rd January 2001

Neither the 100 per cent man nor the 100 per cent woman are well adapted for married life or indeed for life in the world generally. A man's constitution is all the better for a dash of woman, and a woman's for a dash of man. I have always been impressed by the worldly wisdom of the old Irish priest who, when he visited the village school, used to pray that the boys might be modest and the girls might be brave.

Havelock Ellis, 'Love and the Equality of the Sexes' in Questions of Our Day (1936)

[No quotation for 10th January]

17th January 2001

'No, my dear, you don't know what you're up agen yet. But you wait until you've been to bed over three thousand nights with the same man like me, and had to put up with everything. Then you'd be blooming glad the old Kayser went potty'

M Leonora Eyles, The Woman in the Little House (1922)

24th January 2001

He had had a ghastly childhood and an empty youth, for his mother would let him take no part in the royal functions of government, which he longed to perform, and was to perform with some ability after her death. Almost the only royal duty he was allowed to perform was to run the risk of being shot at on some insignificant occasion.

Rebecca West, 1900 (1982)

31st January 2001

The variability of the sexual emotion in women is absolutely basic and primary. It can never be expressed or satisfied by either patriarchal marriage or prostitution. It is found in the same woman as between different times, and in different individuals.

Stella Browne, The Sexual Variety and Variability Among Women (1915/1917)

Feb 2001

7th February 2001

The commercial plasticity of rubber and the expansion of our biochemical knowledge have had a drastic effect on conduct, within a very few decades.

Max Hodann (trans. Stella Browne), A History of Modern Morals (1937)

14th February 2001

Every woman member, I include myself, always speaks to the House as one who simply cannot get accustomed to the collective stupidity of so many men.

Ellen Wilkinson, MP, 1937, quoted in Johanna Alberti, Eleanor Rathbone (1996)

21st February 2001

How did Helen think of these wonderful things to want, for instance, why should she... be gifted with such fierce desires for silk underwear, a sequin evening dress, ocean voyages, a stage career - and why should it be such rotten injustice for her to be deprived of these things. After all, none of the other Dell River girls had them or even felt entitled to them.

Dawn Powell, Come Back to Sorrento (1932)

28th February 2001

When I was menstruating, I used to avoid controversy because I was afraid that when the situation came to a head, I wouldn't 'feel well'. Always, in the back of my mind, lay the knowledge that if I shot off my mouth on, say, the fourteenth of the month, that by the thirtieth, when everyone was good and mad, I would have cramps and be unable to follow through. Now, I no longer worry.

Florence King, Lump It or Leave It (1990)

Mar 2001

7th March 2001

The behavior that causes women so much grief evidently brings men very little joy; on the contrary, men appear to be consumed with sexual frustration, rage, and anxiety.

Ellen Willis, No More Nice Girls (1992)

14th March 2001

You told them you were mad. You had been mad since you saw something nasty in the woodshed, years and years and years ago. If any of them went away, to any other part of the country, you would go much madder. Any attempt by any of them to get away from the farm made one of your attacks of madness come on. It was unfortunate in some ways but useful in others... The woodshed incident had twisted something in your child-brain seventy years ago.
And seeing that because of that incident that you sat here ruling the roost and having five meals a day brought up to you as regularly as clockwork, it hadn't been such a bad break for you, that day you saw something nasty in the woodshed.

Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm (1932)

21st March 2001

After all, childhood, if not the happiest, is the saddest period of life--pains, griefs, petty tyrannies, neglects, and terrors have not the alleviation of the experience that 'this also shall pass away'; time moves with a tardier pace, and in the narrower sphere of interests, there is less to distract the attention from the load of grievances.

Charlotte Yonge, The Young Stepmother (1861)

28th March 2001

Why should so much poetry be written about sexual love and so little about eating, since it is just as pleasurable and never lets you down?

W H Auden, Lectures on Shakespeare (2001)
[Thanks to David Doughan for this one]

Apr 2001

4th April 2001

It was getting rather alarming. I realized one day that in twenty-four hours I had slept with three different men. And one morning I was in bed with somebody while over his head I talked on the telephone with somebody else. Though slightly scared by what things were coming to, I did not feel promiscuous. Maybe no-one does. And maybe more girls sleep with more men than you would ever think to look at them.

Mary McCarthy, Intellectual Memoirs: New York 1936-1938 (1992)

11th April 2001

Unfortunately the worst thought of all, during insomnia, is nothing more definite than insomnia itself: the dread that on this night of all others, this hour before dawn, you have for ever lost the knack of going to sleep, with no guarantee from anywhere that you will ever recover it again.

G B Stern, Trumpet Voluntary (1944)

18th April 2001

In order to feel love, to risk responding, I needed someone who would throw herself against me, encircle me, and Dana was such a person.

Sue Miller, While I Was Gone (1999)

25th April 2001

She has what might be called a polytheistic intellect: eclectic and non-reductive, eschewing the tight logic of the single approach for a whole variety of serially invoked methodological deities

Review by Katharine Eisaman Maus for the Times Literary Supplement, 15 Dec 2000, of Wendy Doniger, The Bed Trick: Tales of sex and masquerade (2000)

May 2001

2nd May 2001

Not being overly favoured gave her the freedom to find her own autonomy without undue pressures and expectations.

Sally Vincent on Georgia O'Keeffe, The Guardian Weekend, 28th April 2001

9th May 2001

Women with a vote can defy the church and public opinion, without the vote they are afraid to speak out on birth control as it may prevent them getting the vote.

Edith How Martyn to Margaret Sanger, 6 Oct 1931

16th May 2001

Sherry was valiantly trying to get some sexual attention, a valentine's worth of attraction, and that is perfectly normal and even admirable. She wants her body to be appreciated, in a special situation that is safe and fun, and which signals the promise of her sexuality to the peers she wants to attract.... It's not a crime or a weakness to want sexual attention, as much as society wants to make young women feel that way.

Susie Bright, The Sexual State of the Union (1997)

23rd May 2001

Young means what it felt like to me all those years ago: thin, poor in resources, pathetically vulnerable to dominant cultural scripts, torn by feeble longings to resist, individualized and isolated from others, powerless to formulate--not to mention execute--resistances.

Margaret Morganroth Gullette, Declining to Decline: Cultural Combat and the Politics of the Midlife (1997)

30th May 2001

Marriage as a mutuality of true minds and tender hearts, so long as it lasts, is the happiest of states, whatever the number and gender of the parties to it; and the only effect that marriage in the socio-legal sense has had on marriage in this deeper sense, is usually to spoil it.

A C Grayling, The last word on Marriage, The Guardian, 26 May 2001

Jun 2001

6th June 2001

I am now the kind of white-haired, thick-waisted, superficially presentable male who people give huge responsibility to and ask directions of on the street. And often, I'm just making it up.... I'm asked a question, no answer presents itself in my brain, and I begin to answer anyway. My mouth moves and the words come out, propelled by pure syntax or by the momentum of language, while I watch from a distance, as curious as anybody else to hear what I'm going to say.

Ian Frazier, in Mother Jones, May/June 2001

13th June 2001

Some minds go hungry all their life without knowing it. They chew over the details of everyday... and make them larger and more dramatic because of this hunger, and when such a mind is given a large, rich, nourishing Fact to eat, it bolts it greedily, aware of a new and delightful pleasure

Stella Gibbons, The Rich House (1941)

20th June 2001

People always seemed to know half of history, and to get it confused with the other half.

Jane Haddam, True Believers (2001)

27th June 2001

The subtle and varied pains springing from the higher sensibility that accompanies higher culture are perhaps less pitiable than that dreary absence of impersonal enjoyment and consolation which leaves ruder minds to the perpetual urgent companionship of their own griefs and discontents.

George Eliot, Silas Marner (1861)

Ju1 2001

4th July 2001

'Hermann is such a good husband,' went on Mrs Bauer. 'I've never had a care. When we were first married it was the same. What, doing the supper dishes when you're so tired, he'd say! No, no, Hulda, he'd say, I won't have you worn out like that. You wait and do them in the morning, he'd say.'

Dawn Powell, Dance Night (1930)

11th July 2001

Contrary to those who mock it, confession is good for the soul. The confessional narrative can function in many different ways. Therapeutically it can be a way to recover a lost sense of self or a way to release the past. It can be purely documentary. It can be an inspirational guide for life's journey. And it can also be a gesture of unadulterated exhibitionism.

bell hooks, Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work (1999)

18th July 2001

Everywhere I was beginning to see people like Jem succeed, those whose enthusiasm far outweighed their talent.... To those sorts, failure was just a setback and not proof that they were cosmically doomed. It startled me to realise that lack of talent was no bar to success; that in fact talent itself might be a bar to success.

Sophie Stewart, Sharking (1999)

25th July 2001

The heterosexuality or homosexuality of many individuals is not an all-or-none proposition.

Alfred C Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948)

Aug 2001

1st August 2001

I have also - and I say this as a matter of public duty - the knowledge in my own person that, if abortion were necessarily fatal or injurious, I should not now be here before you.

F. W. Stella Browne, evidence to the Interdepartmental (Birkett) Committee on Abortion, 17th November 1937.

8th August 2001

If we really want to be free, women must realise that at the end of that struggle, we will not be women any more. Or at least we will not be women the way we understand that term today. Nor will men, as a paradigm, remain unscathed.

Pat Califia, Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism (1997)

[No quotation for 15th August]

22nd August 2001

The truth is that the city is a device for reducing stress - by giving humans a free choice of escapes from the pressure (along with the weather) of their environment.... The city is one of the great indispensible devices of civilisation.

Brigid Brophy, 'The Menace of Nature', in Reads (1989)

29th August 2001

A tail behind, a trunk in front,
Complete the usual elephant.
The tail in front, the trunk behind,
Is what you very seldom find.

If you for specimens should hunt
With trunks behind and tails in front,
That hunt would occupy you long
The force of habit is so strong.

A. E. Housman (1859-1936), 'The Elephant, or The Force of Habit'

Sep 2001

5th September 2001

At the Family Planning clinics inquiry is always made at every patient's first visit as to her happiness, or otherwise. in her sex life.... The wording of the question is made as clear as possible. "Do you enjoy having connection with your husband, as you should do?"... [T]he patient... usually looks quite blank and says nothing. The question is repeated. She realises that something is meant and asks "Why, doctor? What is there to enjoy?" It is evident that it has never occurred to her, nor, presumably, to her husband, that she should have any part at all in sexual pleasure.

Helena Wright, More About the Sex Factor in Marriage (1947)

12th September 2001

"Man" always includes "woman" when there is a penalty to be incurred but never includes "woman" when there is a privilege to be conferred.

Charlotte Carmichael Stopes, The Sphere of man in relation to that of Woman in the Constitution, 1907

[no quotations for 19th and 26th September]

Oct 2001

3rd October 2001

She had all their timidity, all their fear; but she could not, like them, be happy within the walls of her own shyness. She was frantic with self-consciousness and envy and desire.

Nancy Hale, The Prodigal Women, 1942

10th October 2001

At last she was at work again, acutely aware of backache, eye-strain and nervous exasperation. She was aware also, although much less consciously, of having lived up to her own ideal of a woman achieving, by sheer force of will, the next-to-impossible.

EM Delafield, "Faster! Faster!, 1936

The rich pleasures of 'boredom' have been overlooked in the theory of reading and should be recognised as an important theoretical category. It is often the most boring part of a book that gives the most pleasure.

Frances Wilson, Literary Seductions: Compulsive writers and diverted readers, 1999

24th October 2001

The brute facts keep tripping me up.... Facts are never simple, they come in awkward bunches. You find yourself reacting to several different facts at one and the same time, and this is messy and unclear and undramatic.

Christopher Isherwood, diary entry, Thanksgiving Day 1970, cited in introduction to Lost Years: A memoir 1945-51, 2000

31st October 2001

For those of us who before this war loved pictures, music and good writing, find that in these days their delights are intensified.... For, of course, art gives us hope that history may change its spots and become honourable. What is art? It is not decoration. It is the re-living of experience.... What is understood is mastered. If art could investigate all experiences then man would understand the whole of life, and could control his destiny.

Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1942)

Nov 2001

7th November 2001

Any city that is capable of teaching urbanity and tolerance must have a hard edge. Cleaned-up, tidy, purified disney-land cities (or sections of cities) where nothing shocks, nothing disgusts, nothing is even slightly feared may be pleasant sites for family outings or corporate gatherings, but their public places will not help to create cosmopolitans.

Lyn H. Lofland 'Urbanity, tolerance and public space: The creation of cosmopolitans' in L. Deben, W. Heinemeijer, D. van der Vaart (eds), Understanding Amsterdam: essays on economic vitality, city life and urban form (2000)

14th November 2001

Her life remains a kaleidoscope of gaudy fragments, and each shake of the available information... resolves into a completely different pattern.

Review in the Times Literary Supplement, 22nd June 2001 by Catherine Peters,
of Susan Normington, Lady Caroline Lamb: This infernal woman (2001)

21st November 2001

We are dealing with issues so extremely obvious and grossly plain that it takes enormous social forces (as with racism) to make these phenomena seem 'invisible' or 'natural'. So everybody looks for 'deep' causes and fancy ways of talking about what is not nearly so complex as they think.

Joanna Russ To Write Like a Woman (1995)

28th November 2001

Her strengths were all second-order characteristics, and those can support both good and bad purposes, as any tyrant knows. First order principles - the commitment to the search for truth or to human rights, say - are non-conditional and cannot be suborned. They can be followed through life with courage or with a stubborn meekness.

Richard Hoggart on the recently-deceased Mrs Mary Whitehouse, The Guardian 24th Nov 2001

Dec 2001

5th December 2001

He suppressed his suspicion that she had enjoyed her teaching, because she so bitterly resisted any interpretation that allowed her past pleasure - or any pleasure ever. She wanted the martyr's crown of gold.

Margaret Drabble, The Peppered Moth (2000)

[No quotation for 12th December]

19th December 2001

General Blade sometimes felt that leading a resistance movement was far exceeding his debt to decent society and that one day soon he would allow his peaceful nature to override his indignant pursuit of justice

Charles Harness, 'Time Trap' (1948), collected in An Ornament to his Profession (1998)

26th December 2001

We agreed that it was a fine thing when people did not let you know them too well or refused to know you too well, that human relationships were better on a tantalising scale.

Dawn Powell to Sara Murphy, 22 Sep 1947, in Tim Page (ed) Selected letters of Dawn Powell, 1913-1965 (1999)

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