Margaret Atwood Quotes

Margaret Eleanor Atwood

Born: 18 November 1939, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Atwood spent much of her early years with her entomologist father in the north woods of Quebec, the isolation explains her early love of reading, and didn’t start regular school attendance until sixth grade. She graduated from Leaside High School at Leaside, Toronto, graduating in 1957. She earned her BA in English from the Victoria College at the University of Toronto, received her MA at Radcliffe College under a Woodrow Wilson fellowship in 1961, and spent two years at Harvard but never turned in her doctoral dissertation. She taught at four different Canadian universities between 1965 and 1971, was the visiting MFA Chair at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 1985, and was Berg Professor of English at New York University. Atwood started writing poetry at age sixteen, her first novel, The Edible Woman (1969), came eight years later, and she made her name with The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985. She has claimed not to write science fiction (once dismissing the genre as “talking squids in outer space”), but the first year the Arthur C. Clarke Award was given, it went to her breakout novel. She has been shortlisted for Britain’s Man Booker Prize five times, winning once, and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award seven times, winning twice. Perhaps to compensate for not completing her Harvard doctorate, she has at least sixteen honorary degrees.

Margaret Atwood quotes:

A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there’s less of you.
    Margaret Atwood – Time magazine (19 March 1973)

A man is just a woman’s strategy for making other women.
    Margaret Atwood

A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together.
    Margaret Atwood

A word after a word after a word is power.
    Margaret Atwood

All observations of life are harsh, because life is. I lament that fact, but I cannot change it.
    Margaret Atwood – The Tent (2006)

All stories are about wolves. All worth repeating, that is. Anything else is sentimental drivel.
    Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin (2000

Another belief of mine: That everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

As I was whizzing around the United States on yet another demented book tour, getting up at four in the morning to catch planes, doing two cities a day, eating the Pringle food object out of the mini-bar at night as I crawled around on the hotel room floor, too tired even to phone room service, I thought, ‘There must be a better way of doing this’.
    Margaret Atwood

But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.
    Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)

Canada was built on dead beavers.
    Margaret Atwood

Canadians are fond of a good disaster, especially if it has ice, water, or snow in it. You thought the national flag was about a leaf, didn’t you? Look harder. It’s where someone got axed in the snow.
    Margaret Atwood

Cleverness is a quality a man likes to have in his wife as long as she is some distance away from him. Up close, he’ll take kindness any day of the week, if there’s nothing more alluring to be had.
    Margaret Atwood – The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (2005)

Don’t eat anything you aren’t prepared to kill. Don’t kill anything you aren’t prepared to eat.
    Margaret Atwood

Faith is only a word, embroidered.
    Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)

Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up to the bright shadow cast by its absence. Time and distance blur the edges; then suddenly the beloved has arrived, and it’s noon with its merciless light, and every spot and pore and wrinkle and bristle stands clear.
    Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin (2000

For every age there is a popular idea about what madness is, what causes it, and how a mad person should look and behave; and it’s usually these popular ideas, rather than those of medical professionals, that turn up in songs and stories and plays and books.
    Margaret Atwood – “Ophelia Has a Lot to Answer For” speech at the Stratford Festival (September 1997)

Forgiving men is so much easier than forgiving women.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

Gardening is not a rational act.
    Margaret Atwood

Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.
    Margaret Atwood

Happy as a clam, is what my mother says for happy. I am happy as a clam: hard-shelled, firmly closed.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

He’s just a contact of hers, which is not the same as a friend. While she was in the hospital she decided that most of her friends were really just contacts.
    Margaret Atwood – Bodily Harm (1981)

How could I be sleeping with this particular man? … Surely only true love could justify my lack of taste.
    Margaret Atwood – Lady Oracle (1976)

I am certain that a Sewing Machine would relieve as much human suffering as a hundred Lunatic Asylums, and possibly a good deal more.
    Margaret Atwood – Alias Grace (1996)

I became a poet at the age of sixteen. I did not intend to do it. It was not my fault.
    Margaret Atwood – “On Writing Poetry” lecture at Hay On Wye, Wales (June 1995)

I did not know how to paint or even what to paint, but I knew I had to begin.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

I knew what love was supposed to be: obsession with undertones of nausea.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

I no longer feel I’ll be dead by thirty; now it’s sixty. I suppose these deadlines we set for ourselves are really a way of saying we appreciate time, and want to use all of it. I’m still writing, I’m still writing poetry, I still can’t explain why, and I’m still running out of time.
    Margaret Atwood – “On Writing Poetry” lecture at Hay On Wye, Wales (June 1995)

I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most.
    Margaret Atwood

I would rather dance as a ballerina, though faultily, than as a flawless clown.
    Margaret Atwood – Lady Oracle (1976)

If I love you, is that a fact or a weapon?
    Margaret Atwood – Power Politics (1971)

If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia.
    Margaret Atwood

If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.
    Margaret Atwood – Alias Grace (1996)

Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.
    Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)

In Heaven, there are no debts – all have been paid, one way or another – but in Hell there’s nothing but debts, and a great deal of payment is exacted, though you can’t ever get all paid up. You have to pay, and pay, and keep on paying. So Hell is like an infernal maxed-out credit card that multiplies the charges endlessly.
    Margaret Atwood

In Paradise there are no stories, because there are no journeys. It’s loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward, along its twisted road.
    Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin (2000

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
    Margaret Atwood

It’s a feature of our age that if you write a work of fiction, everyone assumes that the people and events in it are disguised biography — but if you write your biography, it’s equally assumed you’re lying your head off.
    Margaret Atwood – “On Writing Poetry” lecture at Hay On Wye, Wales (June 1995)

Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a claim on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

Like all twenty-one-year-old poets, I thought I would be dead by thirty, and Sylvia Plath had not set a helpful example. For a while there, you were made to feel that, if a poet and female, you could not really be serious about it unless you’d made a least one suicide attempt. So I felt I was running out of time.
    Margaret Atwood – “On Writing Poetry” lecture at Hay On Wye, Wales (June 1995)

Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It’s like the tide going out, revealing whatever’s been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future. The ruin you’ve made.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.
    Margaret Atwood

Never pray for justice, because you might get some.
    Margaret Atwood

Nobody dies from the lack of sex. It’s lack of love we die from.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

Old lovers go the way of old photographs, bleaching out gradually as in a slow bath of acid: first the moles and pimples, then the shadings. Then the faces themselves, until nothing remains but the general outlines.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

People cry at weddings for the same reason they cry at happy endings: because they so desperately want to believe in something they know is not credible.
    Margaret Atwood

Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.
    Margaret Atwood

Plato said that poets should be excluded from the ideal republic because they are such liars. I am a poet, and I affirm that this is true. About no subject are poets tempted to lie so much as about their own lives; I know one of them who has floated at least five versions of his autobiography, none of them true. I of course — being also a novelist — am a much more truthful person than that. But since poets lie, how can you believe me?
    Margaret Atwood – “On Writing Poetry” lecture at Hay On Wye, Wales (June 1995)

Potential has a shelf life.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

Romance takes place in the middle distance. Romance is looking in at yourself through a window clouded with dew. Romance means leaving things out: where life grunts and shuffles, romance only sighs.
    Margaret Atwood

Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.
    Margaret Atwood – Surfacing (1972)

The beginning of Canadian cultural nationalism was not “Am I really that oppressed?” but “Am I really that boring?”
    Margaret Atwood

The best way of keeping a secret is to pretend there isn’t one.
    Margaret Atwood

The Eskimo has fifty-two names for snow because it is important to them; there ought to be as many for love.
    Margaret Atwood – Surfacing (1972)

The one good thing to be said about announcing yourself as a writer in the colonial Canadian fifties is that nobody told me I couldn’t do it because I was a girl. They simply found the entire proposition ridiculous. Writers were dead and English, or else extremely elderly and American; they were not sixteen years old and Canadian.
    Margaret Atwood – “On Writing Poetry” lecture at Hay On Wye, Wales (June 1995)

The truly fearless think of themselves as normal.
    Margaret Atwood

The truth is seldom welcome, especially at dinner.
    Margaret Atwood – Morning in the Burned House (1995)

The world is being run by people my age, men my age, with falling-out hair and health worries, and it frightens me. When the leaders were older than me I could believe in their wisdom, I could believe they had transcended rage and malice and the need to be loved. Now I know better. I look at the faces in newspapers, in magazines, and wonder: what greeds, what furies drive them on?
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

There is more than one kind of freedom…. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.
    Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)

There were a lot of gods. Gods always come in handy, they justify almost anything.
    Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin (2000

They will not let you have peace, they don’t want you to have anything they don’t have themselves.
    Margaret Atwood – Surfacing (1972)

When women let their hair down, it means either sexiness or craziness or death, the three by Victorian times having become virtually synonymous.
    Margaret Atwood – “Ophelia Has a Lot to Answer For” speech at the Stratford Festival (September 1997)

You aren’t sick and unhappy, only alive and stuck with it.
    Margaret Atwood – Power Politics (1971)

You can think clearly only with your clothes on.
    Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)

This above all, to refuse to be a victim.
    Margaret Atwood

Time folds you in its arms and gives you one last kiss, and then it flattens you out and folds you up and tucks you away until it’s time for you to become someone else’s past time, and then time folds again.
    Margaret Atwood – The Tent (2006)

Time in dreams is frozen. You can never get away from where you’ve been.
    Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin (2000

Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth.
    Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin (2000

Vanity is becoming a nuisance, I can see why women give it up, eventually. But I’m not ready for that yet.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like paté.
    Margaret Atwood

War is what happens when language fails.
    Margaret Atwood – The Robber Bride (1993)

We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.
    Margaret Atwood

We thought we were running away from the grownups, and now we are the grownups.
    Margaret Atwood

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.
    Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)

We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability?
    Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)

What is it the I’ll want from you? Not love: that would be too much to ask. Not forgiveness, which isn’t yours to bestow. Only a listener, perhaps; only someone who will see me. Don’t prettify me though, whatever else you do: I have no wish to be a decorated skull.
    Margaret Atwood – The Blind Assassin (2000

What we share may be a lot like a traffic accident but we get one another. We are survivors of each other. We have been shark to one another, but also lifeboat. That counts for something.
    Margaret Atwood – Cat’s Eye (1988)

When I was sixteen, it was simple. Poetry existed; therefore it could be written; and nobody had told me — yet — the many, many reasons why it could not be written by me.
    Margaret Atwood – “On Writing Poetry” lecture at Hay On Wye, Wales (June 1995)

What do you think?

861 Points
Upvote Downvote

Written by MoneyNet

MoneyNet is the team behind the research and fact-checking of our net worth listings. We strive to provide the most up-to-date listings of the wealthiest people in the world from a wide range of industries and professions. If you have a tip, or think that we have something factually incorrect, then please let us know. Aside from that, enjoy learning everything there is to know about the rich and famous.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Douglas Adams Quotes

Phillips Brooks Quotes