Quotes by: A. S. Byatt

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For a long time, I felt instinctively irritated - sometimes repelled - by scientific friends' automatic use of the word 'mechanism' for automatic bodily processes. A machine was man-made; it was not a sentient being; a man was not a machine.
A. S. Byatt
Reading a newspaper is like reading someone's letters, as opposed to a biography or a history. The writer really does not know what will happen. A novelist needs to feel what that is like.
A. S. Byatt
There are things I take sides about, like capital punishment, which it seems to me there is only one side about: it is evil. But there are two or three sides to sexual harassment, and the moment you get into particular cases, there is injustice in every conceivable direction. It's a mess.
A. S. Byatt
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
Books that change you, even later in life, give you a kind of electrical shock as the world takes a different shape.
A. S. Byatt
I think literary theory has not been terribly good for English studies in a while. It's not that theory isn't interesting, but it isn't about books, or the idiosyncrasies and complexities of putting language together.
A. S. Byatt
The more research you do, the more at ease you are in the world you're writing about. It doesn't encumber you, it makes you free.
A. S. Byatt
I don't understand why, in my work, writing is always so dangerous. It's very destructive. People who write books are destroyers.
A. S. Byatt
There is a certain aesthetic pleasure in trying to imagine the unimaginable and failing, if you are a reader.
A. S. Byatt
We talk about feelings. And about sex. And about bodies, and their gratification, violation, repair, decoration, deferred, maybe permanently deferred, mortality. Feelings are a bodily thing, and respecting them is called, is, kindness.
A. S. Byatt
Cyclists. I really hate them. I wish they would not be so self-righteous and realise they are a danger to pedestrians. I wish cyclists would not vindictively snap off wing mirrors on cars when they were trying to cross in front of the car at a danger to motorists and pedestrians.
A. S. Byatt
You learn a lot about love before you ever get there. You learn at least as much about love from books as you do from watching your parents.
A. S. Byatt
You can understand a lot about yourself by working out which fairytale you use to present your world to yourself in.
A. S. Byatt
You learn different things through fiction. Historians are always making a plot about how certain things came to happen. Whereas a novelist looks at tiny little things and builds up a sort of map, like a painting, so that you see the shapes of things.
A. S. Byatt
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
Where would we be without inhibitions? They're quite useful things when you look at some of the things humans do if they lose them.
A. S. Byatt
I think my characters with my fingers, I think my characters with my guts. But when I say I think them, that is what I do, I feel them with the sympathetic neurons and I work out with my brain what it is that I am trying to write about, or I can't do it.
A. S. Byatt
The true exercise of freedom is - cannily and wisely and with grace - to move inside what space confines - and not seek to know what lies beyond and cannot be touched or tasted.
A. S. Byatt
I'm more interested in books than people, and I always expect everybody else to be, but they're not.
A. S. Byatt
I am not sure how much good is done by moralising about fairy tales. This can be unsubtle - telling children that virtue will be rewarded, when in fact it is mostly simply the fact of being the central character that ensures a favourable outcome. Fairy tales are not, on the whole, parables.
A. S. Byatt
I like to write about painting because I think visually. I see my writing as blocks of color before it forms itself. I think I also care about painting because I'm not musical. Painting to me is not a metaphor for writing, but something people do that can never be reduced to words.
A. S. Byatt
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