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Previous weeks' quotations 2002

2002

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

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Jan 2002

2nd January 2002

This fiery architecture, these fragments of luminous music, these bright, dream-like and impermanent pictures in the sky--what had they to do with nitre, sulphur and charcoal, with gummed paper, cotton-wool and a handful of mineral salts?

Jan Struther Mrs Miniver (1939)

9th January 2002

These people - her own people - did not talk about themselves. They did not obtrude their own views, their own opinions, their own experiences. Their conversation might be tedious, but not with the triple tediousness of egotism.

E M Delafield, The Suburban Young Man (1928)

16th January 2002

Scholarship was the best game humankind had yet invented; intricate, demanding, rich with risk and reward--akin in many ways to the hunt itself.

Suzy McKee Charnas, The Vampire Tapestry (1980)

[No quotations for 23rd or 30th January]

Feb 2002

6th February 2002

I am an old-fashioned feminist. I believe in the sex-war. I am, to use an expression that for some reason I can never understand is used as a reproach, anti-man. When those of our army whose voices are inclined to coo tells us that the day of sex-antagonism is over and that henceforth we have only to advance hand in hand with the male I do not believe it.

Rebecca West, 'On a Form of Nagging', Time and Tide, 31st October 1924, republished in Dale Spender, Time and Tide Wait for No Man (1984)

13th February 2002

Women do not always have to write about women, or gay men about gay men. Indeed, something good and new might happen if they did not.

Kathryn Hughes, review of Michael Holroyd, Works on Paper: The Craft of Biography and Autobiography (2002), New Statesman, 4 Feb 2002

20th February

Mrs Gilman is... afraid that under the knowledge and practice of Birth Control, people will be too happy and comfortable. She is afraid they may enjoy not only the psychic but the physical side of sex, more frequently and more intensely than now.
Well, WHY NOT?
F. W. Stella Browne, 'Birth Control and Sex Psychology: A reply to "Back of Birth Control"', Birth Control Review, March 1922

[No quotation for 27 Feb 2002]

Mar 2002

[No quotation for 6th March]

13th March

Just occasionally a historian chisels open a jammed, cobwebby window and reveals an astonishing view. After years of believing that X was the case (based on second-hand reports, propaganda or simple fiction), we suddenly discover that it was actually Y - and that there are bundles of overlooked primary sources to prove it.
Martin Wainwright, 'Conchies of the North, review of Cyril Pearce, Comrades in Conscience: The Story of an English Community's Opposition to the Great War in The Guardian, Saturday February 23, 2002

20th March

In youth we are apt to be too rigorous in our expectations, and to suppose that the duties of life are to be performed with unfailing exactness and regularity; but in our progress through life we are forced to abate much of our demands, and to take friends such as we can find them, not as we would make them

Samuel Johnson, letter to George Strahan, 14 July 1763

27th March

His automatic acceptance of everybody was a judgment of mankind crueller, perhaps, than Gertrude's impatient rejection of everybody. She had great expectations for humanity, expectations which any human being disappointed; anybody satisfied Gottfried's expectations. The thought of how he had acquired these expectations was a disagreeable one.

Randall Jarrell, Pictures from an Institution: A Comedy, (1954)

Apr 2002

3rd April

'I found him--I found him very amusing'
'You mean,' said Selena, 'that he laughed at your jokes.'
'Yes,' said Julia.
'I am afraid,' said Selena, 'that very few women can resist a man who laughs at their jokes.'

Sarah Caudwell, The Sirens Sang of Murder, (1989)

10th April

It is on our failures that we base a new and different and better success.

Havelock Ellis, Questions of Our Day, (1936)

17th April

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Edna St Vincent Millay, 'Dirge Without Music', from The Buck in the Snow (1928)

(In Memoriam, JPH)

24th April

The quoting of an aphorism... rarely indicates that something helpful is about to happen. An aphorism is merely a small group of words arranged in a certain order because they sound good that way, but oftentimes people tend to say them as if they were saying something very mysterious and wise.

Lemony Snicket, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Seventh: The Vile Village (2001)

May 2002

[No quotation for 1st May]

8th May

When Belle was 'in a mood' she had to do some irksome and wholly unnecessary piece of work in order to add fuel to her resentment.

Richmal Crompton, Family Roundabout (1948)
Just republished by Persephone Books

15th May

Crazy 'bout his turnip tops
Love the way he warms my chops
Just can't do without my kitchen man.
When I eat his doughnuts
All I leave is the hole
Anytime he wants to
He can use my sugar bowl.

'Kitchen Man', by Andy Razaf and Wesley Wilson, sung by Bessie Smith

22nd May

Wherever there is a general attempt on the part of women of any society to readjust their position in it, a close analysis will always show that the changed or changing conditions of that society have made women's acquiescence no longer necessary or desirable.

Olive Schreiner, Woman and Labour (1911)

29th May

It is only in some special and esoteric sense that women are the protected sex.

Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1942)

Jun 2002

[No quotation for 5th June]

12th June

The feminism I know began as politics, not rules for living. To call X a feminist issue did not then mean that there was a good way to do X and a bad way, and that we were trying to replace the bad way with the good way. X was a feminist issue because it was the locus of various social pressures (which it made visible) and those social pressures were what feminism was all about.... Those who don't see the distinction are building a religion, not a politics.

Joanna Russ, Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans and Perverts (1985)

19th June

They had sweet smiles and eyes like vacant lots. They were notorious for knowing nothing about art while retaining with steel-trap clarity the most sordid detail of the private lives of every living artist in Britain, and quite a few in New York and Paris as well. They did nothing all day but talk to each other on the telephone and cut off clients when they rang up to speak to their dealers.... aside from the rank inefficiency, they looked very pretty and that kept the punters happy.

Tania Kindersley, Elvis Has Left the Building (2000)

26th June

The peace movement was the grit in the machinery; and perhaps all machinery ought to have some grit in it, even if only to ensure its regular inspection.

T. G. Otte, review in The Times Literary Supplement, 5 April 2002, of Martin Ceadel, Semi-Detached Idealists: The British peace movement and international relations, 1854-1945 (2000) and Paul Laity The British Peace Movement, 1870-1914 (2002)

Ju1 2002

3rd July

Her way of having an opinion of her own: She does not lay it down beside yours on the table so that you can compare them; she slams it down on top of yours, always with the certainty that here is the ace to your knave and it takes the trick with game and rubber to her

G. B. Stern, Benefits Forgot (1949)

10th July

Never go to a party if you're going to be the most interesting person there.

Marcelle d'Argy Smith, 'This much I know', The Observer, 7 July 2002

17th July

The sayings and beliefs of religious fundamentalists are often taken at face value. As fervent believers, they seem not to have any truck with rational politics. But it is important to realise how pathetically little they know about the religious and spiritual traditions that supposedly inform their political beliefs; and how the superior morality they noisily lay claim to is important to them only so far as it can give legitimacy to resolutely unspiritual ambitions.

Pankaj Mishra, review of DN Jha, The Myth of the Holy Cow (2002), The Guardian, 13 July 2002

24th July

Bennis had begun to look formidable, the way women did when they entered middle age with both confidence and resources.

Jane Haddam, Somebody Else's Music (2002)

31st July

She had followed her usual amoeboid practice of ingesting the good people could do her with no feeling beyond complacency in her fine powers of ingestion.

Dawn Powell, diary entry for 15 Oct 1946, The Diaries of Dawn Powell, 1931-1965 (1995)

Aug 2002

7th August

I think that all women, unless they are absolutely asleep, must be feminists up to a point.

Ruth Rendell, in 'The Profile: Dark Lady of Whodunnits', interview in The Guardian Review, 3 Aug 2002

14th August

Suddenly her nervous irritability faded. He was watching the effect of his words with strained anxiety; he had the look of one who has had committed to him, as an awful privilege, the care of some delicate and priceless apparatus which is ordinarily entrusted only to technicians of the highest skill. To Janet it was like food to the starving. Kit had looked like that... in the first weeks they had known one another. She had never allowed herself to become aware that it was for this she had married him.

Mary Renault, Kind Are Her Answers (1940)

21st August

These people hold that the way to make life better is to add good things to it, whereas in the West we hold that the way to make life better is to take bad things away from it.

Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1942)

28th August

Women have ever been useful to ambitious young men. Why not? It is part of the social mechanisms. But until we worked it out... women then in the news were always being puzzled by how we were being embraced in theatre foyers and public places by young men we scarcely knew, whose attentiveness impressed the onlookers, if not us.

Doris Lessing, Walking in the Shade: Volume Two of my autobiography, 1949-1962 (1997)

Sep 2002

4th September

Nina, who had been wearing her celebrated resemblance to a hothouse flower buffeted by rude winds for some time... was not best pleased at its utter absence of effect.

E M Delafield, The Pelicans (1919)

11th September

It was not possible to hear him speak in fervent praise of those whose activities he approved... without realizing how implicit in all praise is condemnation by contrast.

E Arnot Robertson, The Signpost (1943)

[No quotation for 18th September]

25th September

For men read interesting, for women difficult. Just means I'm not biddable, that's all.

Kate Adie, interview by Suzie Mackenzie in Guardian Weekend, 21 September 2002

Oct 2002

2nd October

There is no delight like the illegitimate pleasure of suddenly marketing what is not quite one's own job.

G. B. Stern, Monogram (1936)

9th October

He paused and drew a long breath, then suddenly leaped from his seat and thundered at the top of his voice:
'Ye're all damned!'
An expression of lively interest and satisfaction passed over the faces of the Brethren, and there was a general rearranging of arms and legs, as though they wanted to sit as comfortably as possible while listening to the bad news.

Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm (1932)

16th October

A woman writer who fails to go mad, to have 'interesting' lovers, bear illegitimate children, commit suicide, or die in poverty is simply no fun.

Gillian Gill, Agatha Christie: The woman and her mysteries (1990)

[No quotation for 23rd October]

30th October

The thirty-year period that existed after syphilis was under control and before the outbreak of AIDS was the time certain men and women with certain careers had sex not for favors, nor for secondhand fame, but for curiosity and attraction, for fun and for free.

Elaine Dundy, Life Itself! (2001)

Nov 2002

6th November

The woman with a messy desk is telling the world that she does something important at that desk.

Florence King, He: an irreverent look at the American male (1978)

13th November

Mrs Waite, too long accustomed to seeing her most heartfelt emotions exposed, discussed, and ignored, had long since fallen into protecting herself by stating them as jokes, with an air of girlish whimsy.

Shirley Jackson, Hangsaman (1951)

20th November

He was not sure that he wanted to be understood with the lucidity, the depth, the prodigious thoroughness of which they were capable.

May Sinclair, The Creators (1910)

[no quotation for 27th November]

Dec 2002

4th December

The woman of the transition so often wants to have it both ways--to enjoy the privileges of subjection and the rights of freedom.

F. W. Stella Browne, ĎA Year of Indiscretion: Quis Custodiet?', The New Generation, Vol. 8, January 1929

11th December

Even when we are being most accepting we tend to think of a mirror-image group of homosexuals in counterpart to heterosexuals.... Even as we begin to permit differences in sexual preference, we ask individuals to align themselves one way or another.

Mary Catherine Bateson, With a Daughter's Eye: a memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson (1984)

18th December

This set of mind, this predisposition towards suffering, the unconscious belief that to understand life - or to know the score - means immersion in painful experience, shows itself in other areas.

Doris Lessing, Walking in the Shade: Volume Two of my autobiography, 1949-1962 (1997)

[no quotation for 25th December]

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