Edna O'Brien quotes

  • History is said to be written by the victors. Fiction, by contrast, is largely the work of injured bystanders.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Bystanders #Fiction #Said

  • It is increasingly clear that the fate of the universe will come to depend more and more on individuals as the bungling of bureaucracy permeates every corner of our existence.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Fate #Novelists #Individual

  • When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Character #Tree #Ireland And The Irish

  • Irish? In truth I would not want to be anything else. It is a state of mind as well as an actual country. It is being at odds withother nationalities, having quite different philosophy about pleasure, about punishment, about life, and about death. At least it does not leave one pusillanimous.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Country #Philosophy #Odds

  • Love . . . is like nature, but in reverse; first it fruits, then it flowers, then it seems to wither, then it goes deep, deep down into its burrow, where no one sees it, where it is lost from sight, and ultimately people die with that secret buried inside their souls.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Beautiful #Flower #Love Is

  • We all leave one another. We die, we change - it's mostly change - we outgrow our best friends; but even if I do leave you, I will have passed on to you something of myself; you will be a different person because of knowing me; it's inescapable.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Knowing #Different #Persons

  • Money talks, but tell me why all it says is just Goodbye.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Goodbye #Money Talks

  • In a way Winter is the real Spring - the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Spring #Real #Winter

  • Sometimes one word can recall a whole span of life.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Sometimes #Whole #Recalls

  • Ordinary life bypassed me, but I also bypassed it. It couldn't have been any other way.Conventional life and conventional people are not for me.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #People #Ordinary #Way

  • The vote means nothing to women. We should be armed.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Women #Memorable #Mean

  • I'm an Irish Catholic and I have a long iceberg of guilt.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Long #Catholic #Guilt

  • what makes us so afraid is the thing we half see, or half hear, as in a wood at dusk, when a tree stump becomes an animal and a sound becomes a siren. And most of that fear is the fear of not knowing, of not actually seeing correctly.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Fear #Animal #Knowing

  • Writers, however mature and wise and eminent, are children at heart.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Wise #Children #Heart

  • For me to write I have to be, a, alone, and b, know that nobody is going to question me. I write the way a thief steals; it's a little covert.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Writing #Thieves #Littles

  • fear is a dreadful drawback because it stops us living in the moment.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Fear #Live In The Moment #Moments

  • Books everywhere. On the shelves and on the small space above the rows of books and all along the floor and under chairs, books that I have read, books that I have not read.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Book #Space #Chairs

  • To live with the work and the letters of James Joyce was an enormous privilege and a daunting education. Yes, I came to admire Joyce even more because he never ceased working, those words and the transubstantiation of words obsessed him. He was a broken man at the end of his life, unaware that Ulysses would be the number one book of the twentieth century and, for that matter, the twenty-first.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Book #Men #Numbers

  • ...people liking you or not liking you is an accident and is to do with them and not you. That goes for love too, only more so.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Love #People #Like You

  • ... a country encapsulates our childhood and those lanes, byres, fields, flowers, insects, suns, moons and stars are forever reoccurring.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Country #Stars #Flower

  • Promiscuity is the death of love.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Promiscuity

  • She said the reason that love is so painful is that it always amounts to two people wanting more than two people can give.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Love Is #Two #People

  • it is not good to repudiate the dead because then they do not leave you alone, they are like dogs that bark intermittently at night.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Death #Dog #Night

  • It's not the vote women need, we should be armed.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Women #Needs #Vote

  • There are times when the thing we are seeing changes before our very eyes, and if it is a landscape we praise nature, and if it is celestial we invoke God, but if it is a loved one who defects, we excuse ourselves and say we have to be somewhere and are already late for our next appointment. We do not stay to put pennies over the half-dead eyes.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Eye #Half #Landscape

  • I have some women friends but I prefer men. Dont trust women. There is a built-in competition between women.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Trust #Men #Competition

  • I always want to be in love, always. It's like being a tuning fork.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Tuning #Want #Forks

  • What we forgot as children is that our parents are children, also. The child in them has not been satisfied or met or loved, often.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Children #Parent #Mets

  • We hide the truer part of ourselves when we love.
    -- Edna O'Brien

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  • Irish Catholicism is very much founded on the stone of fear and of punishment.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Punishment #Religion #Stones

  • In our deepest moments we say the most inadequate things.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Moments #Inadequate

  • I have always espoused chastity except when one can no longer resist the temptation.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Temptation #Chastity

  • You have to be lonely to be a writer
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Lonely

  • I am not kind, I cut people off as with shears and I drop them like nettles.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Cutting #People #Kind

  • Writers really live in the mind and in hotels of the soul.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Soul #Mind #Bedtime

  • Writing is like carrying a fetus.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Writing #Fetus

  • I did not sleep. I never do when I am over-happy, over-unhappy, or in bed with a strange man.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Sleep #Men #Dating

  • literature is the last banquet between minds.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Mind #Literature #Lasts

  • IT WAS TESS who told me about the crowd going to the all-night dance. We'd been school friends. We'd picked mushrooms and pretended to have seen a big ship. She had got married since I went away; it was a made match, a man from the midlands, a Donal, who had worked in a garage but took to farming, out all day, draining fields and callows so that he could till them and sow corn.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #School #Night #Men

  • I am obsessive, also I am industrious. Besides, the time when you are most alive and most aware is in childhood and one is trying to recapture that heightened awareness.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Childhood #Fatherhood #Trying

  • Recollection is not something that I can summon up, it simply comes and I am the servant of it.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Servant #Recollection #I Can

  • I crossed the room, and what you did was to feel my hair over and over again and in different ways, touch it, with the palm of your hand... felt it, strands of hair, with your fingers, touched it as if it were cloth, the way a child touches its favorite surfaces.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Children #Hair #Hands

  • Cities, in many ways, are the best repositories for a love affair. You are in a forest or a cornfield, you are walking by the seashore, footprint after footprint of trodden sand, and somehow the kiss or the spoken covenant gets lost in the vastness and indifference of nature. In a city there are places to remind us of what has been.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Kissing #Cities #Vastness

  • Countries are either mothers or fathers, and engender the emotional bristle secretly reserved for either sire.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Mother #Country #Father

  • never forget this moment, the hum of the bee, the saffron threads of the flower, the drawn blinds, nature's assiduousness and human cruelty.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Flower #Saffron #Bees

  • I was lonelier than I should be, for a woman in love, or half in love.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Half #Should

  • In every question and every remark tossed back and forth between lovers who have not played out the last fugue, there is one question and it is this: Is there someone new?
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Lasts #Lovers #Back And Forth

  • Ideally I'd like to spend two evenings a week talking to Proust and another conversing with the Holy Ghost.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Talking #Two #Evening

  • Kindness. The most unkind thing of all.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Kindness #All Kinds #Unkind

  • Writing is the product of a deeply disturbed psyche, and by no means therapeutic.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Writing #Mean #Disturbed

  • Life, after all, was a secret with the self. The more one gave out, the less there remained for the center--that center which she coveted for herself and recognized instantly in others. Fruits had it, the very heart of, say, a cherry, where the true worth and flavor lay. Some of course were flawed or hollow in there. Many, in fact.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Heart #Self #Secret

  • August is a wicked month.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #August #Wicked #Months

  • After that dark woman you search for someone who will fit into the irregular corners of your heart.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Heart #Dark #Fit

  • All my life I had feared imprisonment, the nun's cell, the hospital bed, the places where one faced the self without distraction, without the crutches of other people.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Self #Cells #People

  • There was I, devouring books and yet allowing a man who had never read a book to walk me home for a bit of harmless fumbling on the front steps.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Book #Home #Men

  • When something has been perfect, there is a tendency to try hard to repeat it.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Perfection #Trying #Tendencies

  • jealousy is the direct result of self-betrayal.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Jealousy #Betrayal #Self

  • What matters is the imaginative truth.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #What Matters #Matter #Imaginative

  • Death in its way comes just as much of a surprise as birth.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Death #Way #Birth

  • Oh, God, who does not exist, you hate women, otherwise you'd have made them different. And Jesus, who snubbed your mother, you hate them more.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Mother #Jesus #Hate

  • My hand does the work and I dont have to think; in fact, were I to think, it would stop the flow. Its like a dam in the brain that bursts.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Thinking #Hands #Brain

  • The other me, who did not mean to drown herself, went under the sea and remained there for a long time. Eventually she surfaced near Japan and people gave her gifts but she had been so long under the sea she did not recognize what they were. She is a sly one. Mostly at night we commune. Night. Harbinger of dream and nightmare and bearer of omens which defy the music of words. In the morning the fear of her going is very real and very alarming. It can make one tremble. Not that she cares. She is the muse. I am the messenger.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Dream #Morning #Real

  • Later as the day cools and they have gone in, the cry of the corncrake will carry across those same fields and over the lake to the blue-hazed mountain, such a lonely evening sound to it, like the lonely evening sound of the mothers, saying it is not our fault that we weep so, it is nature's fault that makes us first full, then empty.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Beautiful #Mother #Lonely

  • I know the mistake I am making. I see the exits in life.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Mistake #Exit #Knows

  • Movie people are possessed by demons, but a very low form of demons.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #People #Demon #Form

  • If the Holy Communion touched my teeth, I thought that was a mortal sin
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Teeth #Sin #Holy

  • Darkness is drawn to light, but light does not know it; light must absorb the darkness and therefore meet its own extinguishment.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Light #Darkness #Doe

  • I'm a tuning fork, tense and twanging all the time.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Tuning #Forks #Tense

  • Wherever there were horses or ponies the mushrooms always sprang up.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Horse #Mushrooms #Ponies

  • It was the first time that I came face to face with madness and feared it and was fascinated by it.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Faces #Firsts #Madness

  • Oh, love, what an unreasoning creature it grew to be.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Grew #Creatures

  • ... we have so many voices in us, how do we know which ones to obey?
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Voice #Knows

  • I knew I had done something awful. I had killed love, before I even knew the enormity of what love meant.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Love Is #Done #Awful

  • shadows of love, inebriations of love, foretastes of love, trickles of love, but never yet the one true love.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Shadow #Shadow Of Love #Inebriation

  • Writers are always anxious, always on the run--from the telephone, from responsibilities, from the distractions of the world.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Running #Responsibility #World

  • She was an auxiliary nurse but training to be a true nurse because that was her calling, to serve mankind. She was a Martha. There were Marys and Marthas, but Marys got all the limelight because of being Christ's handmaiden, but Marthas were far more sincere.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Nurse #Training #Calling

  • When you fall in love, it is spring no matter when. Leaves falling make no difference, they are from another season.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Falling In Love #Spring #Differences

  • That is the mystery about writing: it comes out of afflictions, out of the gouged times, when the heart is cut open.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Writing #Heart #Cutting

  • There was always a real reason for everything - why spoons tarnished, and jam furred, and people declined into God, or drink, or card games.
    -- Edna O'Brien

    #Real #Games #People