Nadine Gordimer quotes:

  • The gap between the committed and the indifferent is a Sahara whose faint trails, followed by the mind's eye only, fade out in sand.

  • The creative act is not pure. History evidences it. Sociology extracts it. The writer loses Eden, writes to be read and comes to realize that he is answerable.

  • Perhaps the best definition of progress would be the continuing efforts of men and women to narrow the gap between the convenience of the powers that be and the unwritten charter.

  • Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you've made sense of one small area.

  • Exile as a mode of genius no longer exists; in place of Joyce we have the fragments of work appearing in Index on Censorship.

  • Responsibility is what awaits outside the Eden of Creativity.

  • From Ernest Hemingway's stories, I learned to listen within my stories for what went unsaid by my characters.

  • September 2001. A sunny day in New York. Many of us who are writers were at work on the transformation of life into a poem, story, a chapter of a novel, when terror pounced from the sky, and the world made witness to it.

  • The country of the tourist pamphlet always is another country, an embarrassing abstraction of the desirable that, thank God, does not exist on this planet, where there are always ants and bad smells and empty Coca-Cola bottles to keep the grubby finger-print of reality upon the beautiful.

  • Time is change; we measure its passing by how much things alter.

  • The primacy of the word, basis of the human psyche, that has in our age been used for mind-bending persuasion and brain-washing pulp, disgraced by Gobbles and debased by advertising copy, remains a force for freedom that flies out between all bars.

  • Art defies defeat by its very existence, representing the celebration of life, in spite of all attempts to degrade and destroy it.

  • And this indifference is still very much present in modern South Africa. Just listen to Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer - a representative of the British elite in this country: Afrikaner women are lower than rats, closer related to plants, just fit enough to be raped in an act of genus preservation.

  • In a democracy - even if it is a so-called democracy like our white-?litist one - the greatest veneration one can show the rule of law is to keep a watch on it, and to reserve the right to judge unjust laws and the subversion of the function of the law by the power of the state. That vigilance is the most important proof of respect for the law.

  • The truth isn't always beauty, but the hunger for it is.

  • A desert is a place without expectation.

  • Music has no limits of a life-span.

  • Well, you know, in the fundamentalist milieu of the Afrikaners, there was a sense that they were a chosen people, that they were bringing civilization to the blacks.

  • What is the purpose of writing? For me personally, it is really to explain the mystery of life, and the mystery of life includes, of course, the personal, the political, the forces that make us what we are while there's another force from inside battling to make us something else.

  • A truly living human being cannot remain neutral.

  • I'm a candle flame that sways in currents of air you can't see. You need to be the one who steadies me to burn."

  • Peace. The upland serenity of high altitude, the openness of grassland without indigenous bush or trees; the greening, yellowing or silver-browning that prevailed, according to season.

  • Keenness of hearing revives when one is alone.

  • If people would forget about utopia! When rationalism destroyed heaven and decided to set it up here on earth, that most terrible of all goals entered human ambition. It was clear there'd be no end to what people would be made to suffer for it.

  • Nothing factual that I write or say will be as truthful as my fiction.

  • A child understands fear, and the hurt and hate it brings.

  • People give one another things that can't be gift wrapped.

  • If you live in Europe . . . things change . . . but continuity never seems to break. You don't have to throw the past away.

  • I would be guilty only if I were innocent of working to destroy racism in my country.

  • They say (she had read somewhere) that no one ever disappears, up in the atmosphere, stratosphere, whatever you call space--atoms infinitely minute, beyond conception of existence, are up there forever, from the whole world, from all time.

  • Writing is always a voyage of discovery.

  • Power is something of which I am convinced there is no innocence this side of the womb.

  • Written words still have the amazing power to bring out the best and worst of human nature

  • There is no moral authority like that of sacrifice.

  • I cannot live with someone who can't live without me.

  • Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever.

  • a writer doesn't only need the time when he's actually writing - he or she has got to have time to think and time just to let things work out. Nothing is worse for this than society. Nothing is worse for this than the abrasive, if enjoyable, effect of other people.

  • About the joys and the courage, I really don't know what other people think. I just know that I've never left Africa. I've lived there all my life. And one of the wonderful things, in spite of all the terrible things that happen in South Africa, is the way people continue to keep their dignity.

  • Afrikaner women are lower than rats, closer related to plants, just fit enough to be raped in an act of genus preservation.

  • All worthwhile writing... comes from an individual vision, privately pursued.

  • Any writer of any worth at all hopes to play only a pocket-torch of light - and rarely, through genius, a sudden flambeau - into the bloody yet beautiful labyrinth of human experience, of being.

  • As writers, we are exploring the mystery, the mystery of existence.

  • Books dont need batteries

  • Can you imagine a writer in England influencing? Absolutely not. And in France? It used to be, but no more-absolutely not. France used to, at least, have writers as diplomats, but not any more.

  • Censorship may have to do with literature; but literature has nothing whatever to do with censorship.

  • Certainly the people who are close to me are happier. They feel freer.

  • Communists are the last optimists.

  • Disaster is private, in its way, as love is.

  • Everyone ends up moving alone towards the self

  • Fiction is a way of exploring possibilities present but undreamt of in the living of a single life.

  • Humans, the only self-regarding animals, blessed or cursed with this torturing higher faculty, have always wanted to know why.

  • I believe - I know (there are not many things I should care to dogmatize about, on the subject of writing) that writers need solitude, and seek alienation of a kind every day of their working lives. (And remember, they are not even aware when and when not they are working.) ... The tension between standing apart and being fully involved; that is what makes a writer.

  • I couldn't be sufficiently interested in human beings to be a writer if I had contempt for human beings.

  • I don't think I am a citizen of the world; I am very much a citizen of my own country. But my own country is closely related to other parts of the world and influenced by what happens there.

  • I don't understand writers who feel they shouldn't have to do any of the ordinary things of life, because I think that this is necessary: one has to keep in touch with that... The ordinary action of taking a dress down to the dry cleaner's or spraying some plants infected with greenfly is a very sane and good thing to do. It brings one back, so to speak. It also brings the world back.

  • I have failed at many things, but I have never been afraid.

  • I have learned since that sometimes the things we want most are impossible for us. You may long to come home, yet wander forever.

  • I never talk about what I'm writing about currently, never. It's private work on your own, no need or obligation to talk about it. Writers are made into performers these days, including myself, but there are some instances in which I will not perform.

  • I shall never write an autobiography, I'm much too jealous of my privacy for that.

  • If I dreamt this, while walking, walking in the London streets, the subconscious of each and every other life, past and present, brushing me in passing, what makes it real? Writing it down.

  • If one will always have to feel white first, and African second, it would be better not to stay on in Africa

  • I'm a candle flame that sways in currents of air you can't see. You need to be the one who steadies me to burn.

  • I'm forty-nine but I could be twenty-five except for my face and my legs.

  • In a certain sense a writer is 'selected' by his subject - his subject being the consciousness of his own era.

  • In various and different circumstances certain objects and individuals are going to turn out to be vital. The wager of survival cannot, by its nature, reveal which, in advance of events.

  • in writing, sex doesn't matter; it's the writing that matters.

  • It is not the conscious changes made in their lives by men and women-a new job, a new town, a divorce-which really shape them...but a long slow mutation of emotion, hidden, all-penetrative...

  • It was a miracle; it was all a miracle: and one ought to have known, from the sufferings of saints, that miracles are horror.

  • It's absolutely fatal to your writing to think about how your work will be received. It's a betrayal of whatever talent you have.

  • It's easier for the former masters to put aside the masks that hid their humanity than for the former slaves to recognise the faces underneath. Or to trust that this is not a new mask these are wearing.

  • it's impossible to conquer all fear and loss by preparation. There are always sources of desolation that aren't taken into account because no one knows what they will be.

  • Learning to write sent me falling, falling through the surface of the South African way of life.

  • Literature is one of the few areas left where black and white feel some identity of purpose; we all struggle under censorship.

  • Mostly I'm interviewed by white people, and identified with white society.

  • Mumbling obeisance to abhorrence of apartheid is like those lapsed believers who cross themselves when entering a church.

  • My answer is: Recognize yourself in others

  • Newspapers are horror happening to other people.

  • Nothing fades so quickly as what is unchanged.

  • One can't measure how a mood of confidence comes about.

  • Perhaps the best way to write is to do so as if one were already dead, afraid of no one's reactions, answerable to no one's views.

  • Perhaps there is no other way of reaching some understanding of being than through art? Writers themselves don't analyze what they do; to analyze would be to look down while crossing a canyon on a tightrope. To say this is not to mystify the process of writing but to make an image out of the intense inner concentration the writer must have to cross the chasms of the aleatory and make them the word's own, as an explorer plants a flag.

  • Rebirth. I mean by this simply what happens when the child begins to realise the fact that the black does not enter through the white's front door is not in the same category as the fact that the dead will never come back.

  • Sentiment is for those who don't know what to do next.

  • Sincerity is never having an idea of oneself.

  • Success sometimes may be defined as a disaster put on hold. Qualified. Has to be.

  • The caged eagle become a metaphor for all forms of isolation, the ultimate in imprisonment. A zoo is prison.

  • The Communist Party is very popular in South Africa, especially among the young people. Never having had a chance to travel, and having suffered so much under capitalism, they still can't believe that the Russian people themselves have rejected it.

  • The creative act is not pure. History evidences it. Ideology demands it. Society exacts it.

  • The facts are always less than what really happened.

  • The function of a writer is to make sense of life. It is such a mystery, it changes all the time, like the light.

  • The process of writing fiction is totally unconscious. It comes from what you are learning, as you live, from within. For me, all writing is a process of discovery. We are looking for the meaning of life. No matter where you are, there are conflicts and dramas everywhere. It is the process of what it means to be a human being; how you react and are reacted upon, these inward and outer pressures. If you are writing with a direct cause in mind, you are writing propaganda. It's fatal for a fiction writer.

  • The solitude of writing is also quite frightening. It's quite close to madness, one just disappears for a day and loses touch.

  • The tension between standing apart, and being fully involved; that is what makes a writer.

  • There's no tiling moral about beauty.

  • Time is change; we measure its passage by how much things alter.

  • Very often we support change, and then are swept away by the change. I think just make your own response to your own generation. A response adequate to your time.

  • what a writer does is to try to make sense of life. I think that's what writing is, I think that's what painting is. It's seeking that thread of order and logic in the disorder, and the incredible waste and marvelous profligate character of life. What all artists are trying to do is to make sense of life.

  • When I was a child, we seemed to be living in a world remote from the rest of the world. But television has made a great difference to all of us.

  • when it comes to their essential faculty as writers, all writers are androgynous beings.

  • Where do whites fit in the New Africa? Nowhere, I'm inclined to sayand I do believe that it is true that even the gentlest and most westernised Africans would like the emotional idea of the continent entirely without the complication of the presence of the white man for a generation or two. But nowhere, as an answer for us whites, is in the same category as remarks like What's the use of living? in the face of the threat of atomic radiation. We are living; we are in Africa.

  • Writers themselves don't analyze what they do; to analyze would be to look down while crossing a canyon on a tightrope.

  • Writing is making sense of life.

  • You can't be afraid to do good in case evil results.

  • You can't change a regime on the basis of compassion. There's got to be something harder.