Tag Archives: literary quotes

Consorting with Angels

“The woman who confesses is frequently read as testifying only to her anguish and her own “weakness”; she is simply revealing the awfulness of femininity which was known to be there all along, and which, in the most simplistic terms has led to her oppression in the first place. And it is here that we see the exact nature of the problem: for if the woman poet does remain silent, if the awfulness of her confessional truth is such that it will only oppress her further, she is left where she started and cannot speak at all. Alternatively, she can speak a version of self which also confirms a certain kind of femininity – that of beauty, passivity, orderliness and self-control – but which nevertheless fails to “tell it like it is”.” 
 
– Deryn Rees-Jones, Consorting with Angels: Essays on Modern Women Poets (Bloodaxe, 2005)
 
Read more about Deryn Rees-Jones, Consorting with Angels and Modern Women Poets, the companion anthology to Consorting with Angels.

An Experiment in Criticism

 
“The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way. (There is no good asking first whether the work before you deserves such a surrender, for until you have surrendered you cannot possibly find out.)”
 
– C S Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

Stevie Smith

“The human creature is alone in his carapace.  Poetry is a strong way out.  The passage out that she blasts is often in splinters, covered with blood …”

– Stevie Smith

Philip Larkin

“I think a young poet, or an old poet for that matter, should try to produce something that pleases himself personally, not only when he’s written it but a couple of weeks later.  Then he should see if it pleases anyone else, by sending it to the kind of magazine he likes reading.  But if it doesn’t, he shouldn’t be discouraged.  I mean, in the seventeenth century every educated man could turn a verse and play the lute.  Supposing no one played tennis because they wouldn’t make Wimbledon?  First and foremost, writing poems should be a pleasure.  So should reading them, by God.”

– Philip Larkin

William Faulkner

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do.  Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors.  Try to be better than yourself.  An artist is a creature driven by demons.  He doesn’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why … The writer’s only responsibility is to his art.”

– William Faulkner

Italo Calvino

“Reading means being ready to catch a voice that makes itself heard when you least expect it, a voice that comes from an unknown source, from somewhere beyond the book, beyond the author, beyond the convention of writing:  from the unsaid, from what the world has not yet said of itself and does not yet have the words to say.”

– Italo Calvino