A. S. Byatt quotes

  • What literature can and should do is change the people who teach the people who don't read the books.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Change #Book #People

  • They took to silence. They touched each other without comment and without progression. A hand on a hand, a clothed arm, resting on an arm. An ankle overlapping an ankle, as they sat on a beach, and not removed. One night they fell asleep, side by side... He slept curled against her back, a dark comma against her pale elegant phrase.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Beach #Dark #Night

  • No mere human can stand in a fire and not be consumed.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Fire #Humans

  • Coherence and closure are deep human desires that are presently unfashionable. But they are always both frightening and enchantingly desirable. "Falling in love," characteristically, combs the appearances of the word, and of the particular lover's history, out of a random tangle and into a coherent plot.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Falling In Love #Desire #Plot

  • Art does not exist for politics, or for instruction- it exists primarily for pleasure, or it is nothing.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Art #Doe #Pleasure

  • Once upon a time, when men and women hurtled through the air on metal wings, when they wore webbed feet and walked on the bottom of the sea, learning the speech of whales and the songs of the dolphins, when pearly-fleshed and jewelled apparitions of Texan herdsmen and houris shimmered in the dusk on Nicaraguan hillsides, when folk in Norway and Tasmania in dead of winter could dream of fresh strawberries, dates, guavas and passion fruits and find them spread next morning on their tables, there was a woman who was largely irrelevant, and therefore happy.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Dream #Song #Morning

  • 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

    #Powerful #Thinking #Names

  • He felt changed, but there was no one to tell.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Changed

  • 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

    #Mean #Fire #Our World

  • An odd phrase, "by heart," he would add, as though poems were stored in the bloodstream.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Heart #Add #Phrases

  • 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

    #Real #Thinking #Colour

  • 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

    #Pain #Suffering #Doe

  • Human beings love stories because they safely show us beginnings, middles and ends.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Stories #Love Story #Ends

  • Narration is as much a part of human nature as breath and the circulation of the blood.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Blood #Human Nature #Circulation

  • I am a creature of my pen. My pen is the best of me.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Best Of Me #Creatures #Pens

  • I have a dreadful fear that the more you try to prevent revealing the self, the more you do.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Self #Trying #Revealing

  • 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

    #Girl #Teacher #Nice

  • There are things that happen and leave no discernible trace, are not spoken or written of, though it would be very wrong to say that subsequent events go on indifferently, all the same, as though such things had never been.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Events #Would Be #Goes On

  • Ice burns, and it is hard to the warm-skinned to distinguish one sensation, fire, from the other, frost.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Fire #Ice #Frost

  • I cannot bear not to know the end of a tale. I will read the most trivial things – once commenced – only out of a feverish greed to be able to swallow the ending – sweet or sour – and to be done with what I need never have embarked on. Are you in my case? Or are you a more discriminating reader? Do you lay aside the unprofitable?
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Sweet #Greed #Needs

  • Vocabularies are crossing circles and loops. We are defined by the lines we choose to cross or to be confined by.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Vocabulary #Circles #Lines

  • Lists are a form of power.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Lists #Form

  • The minds of stone lovers had colonised stones as lichens clung to them with golden or grey-green florid stains. The human world of stones is caught in organic metaphors like flies in amber. Words came from flesh and hair and plants. Reniform, mammilated, botryoidal, dendrite, haematite. Carnelian is from carnal, from flesh. Serpentine and lizardite are stone reptiles ; phyllite is leafy-green.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Hair #Mind #Reptiles

  • Narrative is one of the best intoxicants or tranquilisers.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Narrative

  • …words have been all my life, all my life--this need is like the Spider's need who carries before her a huge Burden of Silk which she must spin out--the silk is her life, her home, her safety--her food and drink too--and if it is attacked or pulled down, why, what can she do but make more, spin afresh, design anew….
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Home #Safety #Design

  • Only write to me, write to me, I love to see the hop and skip and sudden starts of your ink.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Writing #Ink #Hops

  • Louis de Bernires is in the direct line that runs through Dickens and Evelyn Waugh. . .he has only to look into his world, one senses, for it to rush into reality, colours and touch and taste.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Running #Reality #Looks

  • Do I do as false prophets do and puff air into simulacra? Am I a Sorcerer--like Macbeth's witches--mixing truth and lies in incandescent shapes? Or am I a kind of very minor scribe of a prophetic Book--telling such truth as in me lies, with aid of such fiction as I acknowledge mine, as Prospero acknowledged Caliban.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Lying #Book #Air

  • Well, I would hardly say I do write as yet. But I write because I like words. I suppose if I liked stone I might carve. I like words. I like reading. I notice particular words. That sets me off.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Reading #Writing #Stones

  • Harm can come about without will or action. But will and action can avert harm.
    -- A. S. Byatt

    #Action #Harm