Memorable quotations from the maestro

MARGARET ATWOOD READING MONTHMargaret Atwood Reading Month is a literary jolly organized by Naomi at Consumed by Ink and Marcie at BuriedInPrint. Every November participants read and review Atwood’s work (including her journalism, fiction, poetry and comics), take part in scheduled events or simply concentrate on a single piece of her writing.

With only one day to spare, I’m scrambling to catch Week Four of MARM (hosted by Naomi). I have been rifling through old jotters, discoloured clippings and scribbled-on Post-it notes left inside books to share with you a mere handful of my favourite Atwood quotations. There are so very many from which to choose but I’ve dwindled it down to the most succinct, amusing and epigrammatic:


“Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”
The Handmaid’s Tale

“If I love you, is that a fact or a weapon?”
Power Politics

“Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.”

“He’s pretty good – he mostly just keeps out of the way.”
– On her partner, Graeme Gibson

“If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.”
Alias Grace

“I wanted to forget the past, but it refused to forget me; it waited for sleep, then cornered me.”
Lady Oracle

“Which of us can resist the temptation of being thought indispensable?”
The Penelopiad

“Our biggest moral debt is to the environment. Take-take-take, nothing given back.”
Maclean’s Interview: Margaret Atwood

“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read.”
The Blind Assassin

“The truth is seldom welcome, especially at dinner.”
Morning in the Burned House

“First wave, the vote. Second wave, the image. Now it’s about violence and rape and death: we’ve got down to the nitty-gritty.”
– On feminism

“War is what happens when language fails.”
The Robber Bride

“Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.”
Cat’s Eye

“Nature is to zoos as God is to churches.”
– The MaddAddam Trilogy

“I’ve never understood why people consider youth a time of freedom and joy. It’s probably because they have forgotten their own.”
Dancing Girls

Menopause. A pause while you reconsider men.
Wilderness Tips

“Time rises and rises, and when it reaches the level of your eyes you drown.”
The Blind Assassin

Categories: Readathons / Challenges

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33 replies

  1. Lovely selection Paula. She *is* eminently quotable!

  2. Oh, those are good.I can’t even pick a favourite. The one about her husband makes me laugh.
    So glad you joined in! 🙂

  3. Oh, how I love me a good quote. I’ve stolen these, thanks! 😀

  4. Loving these quotation posts, and what wonderful news from Atwood today!

    • I’m so excited, Susan, but we must wait until 10th Sept 2019! 😆

      • I’m already imagining this date scribbled on yet another little scrap or napkin or some such thing! (Yes, that’s exciting news, for sure!) This is such a terrific list: I love that you focussed on the epigrammatic. Very suitable indeed.

      • Thank you, Marcie. You’re so right. I can see from this thread that I must invest in a little black book – it’s obviously the done thing in book blogging circles! 😃

  5. So many great quotes- if I ever manage to say one thing as witty and clever as Atwood I think I’ll feel smug to the end of my days!

  6. Wonderful selection of quotes, Paula! I’ll have to write these down in my quotes book.

  7. Love your selection, Paula!

  8. Excellent selection: the zoos and churches quote struck me, and also “Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.”

    I see that her sequel to THT is to be entitled ‘The Testaments’, just announced today.

    • Sorry, I have only this minute spotted your comment, Chris. Yes indeed, little girls are anything but cute when you are the same size. Very exciting news about Atwood’s sequel!

      • Just got Hag-seed as my first proper entry into Atwood, having tried Handmaid’s Tale many years ago and stopped, disgusted and distressed at men’s inhumanity to women, as I knew even then not confined to fiction. And there’s also The Penelopaiad waiting…

      • Thank goodness there are men like you, Chris, who realise we’re all members of the same species and should muddle along together for everyone’s sake. Hope you enjoy HS. 😃

  9. These are great, and I see I need to get my own little black book!

  10. Those are amazing quotes. And I came down to inform you a good news. There is going to be a sequel to the Handmaid’s Tale from Margaret Atwood herself, called Testaments narrated by three women. I can’t wait.

    Read the full news at Her official FB Page here

  11. Alias Grace is a masterpiece.

  12. I simply adore this author.


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