Welcome to the web’s most comprehensive site of quotations by women. 44,279 quotations are searchable by topic, by author's name, or by keyword. Many of them appear in no other collection. And new ones are added continually.

See All TOPICS Available:
See All AUTHORS Available:

Search by Topic:

  • topic cats
  • topic books
  • topic moon

Find quotations by TOPIC (coffee, love, dogs)
or search alphabetically below.

Search by Last Name:

  • Quotes by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Quotes by Louisa May Alcott
  • Quotes by Chingling Soong

Find quotations by the AUTHOR´S LAST NAME
or alphabetically below.

Search by Keyword:

  • keyword fishing
  • keyword twilight
  • keyword Australie

Pearl S. Buck

  • When we define democracy now it must still be as a thing hoped for but not seen.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • speech before the House of Representatives ()
  • At my age the bones are water in the morning until food is given them.

  • It is better not to say lend. There is no lending in that house. There is only giving.

  • Hunger makes a thief of any man.

  • ... there are no honorable rulers ...

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • Sons
    • ()
  • A man was lost if he went to a usurer, for the interest ran faster than a tiger upon him ...

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • "The Frill," The First Wife ()
  • Never, if you can possibly help it, write a novel. It is, in the first place, a thoroughly unsocial act. It makes one obnoxious to one's family and to one's friends. One sits about for many weeks, months, even years, in the worst cases, in a state of stupefaction.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • introduction, The First Wife ()
  • ... music is not technique and melody, but the meaning of life itself, infinitely sorrowful and unbearably beautiful.

  • Religion was their meat and their excitement, their mental food and their emotional pleasure.

  • She had once been a Southern belle and she had never got over it. But that disease is a curiously inverted one. It sickens almost to death any number of persons about her, but it remains robust and incurable in the woman who possesses it.

  • Religion ... has hardened their hearts and made it impossible for them to see, except through the dark glass of their own creed, what life is or ought to be.

  • ... no one needed to do more than see the two together to know that Sallie had Lem's gentle soul between her thumb and forefinger and that she pinched it cruelly.

  • ... there was no fatherhood in him. He had to be viewed, to be considered, not as a father but as a man. His children were merely accidents which had befallen him.

  • But Andrew when compelled against his will had a trick of falling ill. It was not conscious pretense — it was an actual disturbance caused by the distress of not having his own way.

  • ... to him, as to all old, there came gradually the knowledge that there were not many more days in which to work, not many nights left in which to lie down to sleep, and there would soon be a dawn to which he would not wake.

  • But the body was so little a part of him that its final stillness seemed nothing of importance. He was half out of it anyway and death was only a slipping out of it altogether and being at last what he always was, a spirit. We buried the pearly shell upon the mountain top.

  • There were many ways of breaking a heart. Stories were full of hearts being broken by love, but what really broke a heart was taking away its dream — whatever the dream might be.

  • That river — it was full of good and evil together. It would water the fields when it was curbed and checked, but then if an inch were allowed it, it crashed through like a roaring dragon.

  • Only very coarse persons wanted wars.

  • I don't wait for moods — you'd never get anything done if you did.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in The Modern Review ()
  • I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in human beings. Like Confucius of old, I am so absorbed in the wonder of Earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and the angels. I have enough for this life.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Clifton Fadiman, ed., I Believe ()
  • When hope is taken away from a people moral degeneration follows swiftly after.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in The New York Times ()
  • Every era of renaissance has come out of new freedoms for peoples. The coming renaissance will be greater than any in human history, for this time all the peoples of the earth will share in it.

  • ... all birth is unwilling.

  • ... race prejudice is not only a shadow over the colored — it is a shadow over all of us, and the shadow is darkest over those who feel it least and allow its evil effects to go on.

  • It is not healthy when a nation lives within a nation, as colored Americans are living inside America. A nation cannot live confident of its tomorrow if its refugees are among its own citizens.

  • ... as surely as night follows day our country will fail in its democracy because of race prejudice unless we root it out. We cannot grow in strength and leadership for democracy so long as we carry deep in our being that fatal fault.

  • There is, of course, a difference between what one seizes and what one really possesses.

  • The main barrier between East and West today is that the white man is not willing to give up his superiority and the colored man is no longer willing to endure his inferiority.

  • It is natural anywhere that people like their own kind, but it is not necessarily natural that their fondness for their own kind should lead them to the subjection of whole groups of other people not like them.

  • ... 'men of action,' whose minds are too busy with the day's work to see beyond it ... are essential men, we cannot do without them, and yet we must not allow all our vision to be bound by the limitations of 'men of action.'

  • ... none who have always been free can understand the terrible fascinating power of the hope of freedom to those who are not free.

  • People on the whole are very simple-minded, in whatever country one finds them. They are so simple as to take literally, more often than not, the things their leaders tell them.

  • One faces the future with one's past ...

  • Too many escape into complexity these days. For it is an escape for persons to cry, when this question of the equality of peoples is raised in India or in our own South, 'Ah, but the situation is not so simple.' ... no great stride forward is ever made for the individual or for the human race unless the complex situation is reduced to one simple question and its simple answer.

  • The mind that doggedly insists on prejudice often has not intelligence enough to change.

  • Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.

  • Men would rather be starving and free than fed in bonds.

  • It may be that religion is dead, and if it is, we had better know it and set ourselves to try to discover other sources of moral strength before it is too late.

  • It is ironical that in an age when we have prided ourselves on our progress in the intelligent care and teaching of children we have at the same time put them at the mercy of new and most terrible weapons of destruction.

  • The melting-pot idea is futile ... The brew in a melting pot is always boiling over.

  • The only real danger to our country is from within, that we forget our own power to be what we want to be.

  • ... there's two kinds of folk in the world, just like there's two kinds of life in a seed. Something sends one kind up to hunt its food in the light and air, and sends the other kind down into the earth to make the roots.

  • Love cannot be forced, love cannot be coaxed and teased. It comes out of Heaven, unasked and unsought.

  • She had always been too wise to tell him all she thought and felt, knowing by some intuition of her own womanhood that no man wants to know everything of any woman.

  • Self-expression must pass into communication for its fulfillment ...

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Helen Hull, ed., The Writer's Book ()
  • Introversion, at least if extreme, is a sign of mental and spiritual immaturity.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Helen Hull, ed., The Writer's Book ()
  • ... endurance of inescapable sorrow is something which has to be learned alone. And only to endure is not enough. Endurance can be a harsh and bitter root in one's life, bearing poisonous and gloomy fruit, destroying other lives. Endurance is only the beginning. There must be acceptance and the knowledge that sorrow fully accepted brings its own gifts. For there is an alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmuted into wisdom, which, if it does not bring joy, can yet bring happiness.

  • Euthanasia is a long, smooth-sounding word, and it conceals its danger as long, smooth words do, but the danger is there, nevertheless.

  • ... I learned to distinguish between the two kinds of people in the world: those who have known inescapable sorrow and those who have not.

  • ... starvation is a shame and disgrace to the world and totally unnecessary in modern times.

  • A starving man can't see right or wrong. He just sees food.

  • Anger can give energy to the mind but only if it is harnessed and held in control.

  • Sooner or later the young always betrayed the old.

  • What the common man cannot understand he hates.

  • He knew now that the only way to interest the rich was to suggest more riches.

  • But he had ceased already to value what he had, so immense was his desire for what was yet to come.

  • ... she did not mind sitting and watching him while he slept. They were so close, so nearly one, that his sleep seemed to rest her, too.

  • ... there was no end to a road once he had set his feet upon it.

  • At heart a truly modest man, he had nevertheless the modest man's pride in his modesty in the face of achievement.

  • The head raised too high even in good will be struck off too soon.

  • When we know what we want to prove, we go out and find our facts. They are always there.

  • An Englishman is never afraid of being laughed at. He just thinks the other fellow is a fool. But Americans still can't risk anybody laughing at them.

  • He's like those lawyer fellows — he wants laws as clubs, see? Clubs to make the other fellow do what you want! But my idea is to use laws to keep my freedom to do what I want.

  • His conscience was the fox in his vitals.

  • People don't care to read what they already think or what any people think — they know all that well enough. They want to know what they ought to think.

  • ... nobody listened to a man who had spent his life on one idea.

  • There will not cease to be ferment in the world unless people are sure of their food.

  • God is not in the vastness of greatness. He is hid in the vastness of smallness. He is not in the general. He is in the particular. When we understand the particular, then we will know all.

  • It is better to learn early of the inevitable depths, for then sorrow and death take their proper place in life, and one is not afraid.

  • The years have taught me that nothing is less reliable than [machines] ... it is difficult not to wonder whether that combination of elements which produces a machine for labor does not create also a soul of sorts, a dull resentful metallic will, which can rebel at times.

  • Our children ... are not treated with sufficient respect as human beings, and yet from the moment they are born they have this right to respect. We keep them children for too long, their world separate from the real world of life.

  • ... somehow our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members.

  • Nothing was private in the Chinese world, nothing could be kept secret, the very word for secret also meant unlawful.

  • ... in a democracy such as ours the leading minds seldom achieve a place of permanent influence. And the men who sit in Congress or even in the White House are usually not our leading minds. They are not the thinkers. Still less have they time for reflection ...

  • ... when the people of any country choose peace at all costs, not even generals can make war.

  • The complete overturn every four years in our central government, or at least the effort to make the overturn, the intervening upset of local politics, the shortness of the term of office, not only for major officials, but for the lesser ones as well, make impossible the development of enduring policies and principles. A sense of haste and hurry pervades our daily life, bred of the necessity for action before the change again, and this permeates our thinking. ... To this, more than to any other single cause, I began to ascribe the superficiality of American life and thought. We live from day to day unable to plan for long years ahead, lest a new goverment bring about far-reaching changes.

  • The older a people grows, the more it absorbs its own landscape and builds to it.

  • I am not given to superstition, yet there are certain places in old Asian countries where human beings have been born and have lived and died for so many generations that the very earth is saturated with their flesh and the air seems crowded with their continuing presence.

  • The best government in the world, the best religion, the best traditions of any people, depend upon the good or evil of the men and women who administer them.

  • No writer, I believe, should attempt a novel before he is thirty, and not then unless he has been hopelessly and helplessly involved in life. For the writer who goes out to find material for a novel, as a fishermen goes out to sea to fish, will certainly not write a good novel. Life has to be lived thoughtlessly, unconsciously, at full tilt and for no purpose except its own sake before it becomes, eventually, good material for a novel.

  • I love people. I love my family, my children ... but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that's where you renew your springs that never dry up.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in New York Post ()
  • The greatest problem that war leaves, in a man, is how to recapture reality. That's because war is unreal.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • "Begin to Live," Fourteen Stories ()
  • ... destructiveness comes only when life isn't lived. People who can live their lives don't destroy themselves.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • "Melissa," Fourteen Stories ()
  • In our changing world nothing changes more than geography.

  • When one commits one's self to an airborne craft and the door is fastened against earth and home, there is no escape even by running away. The result is a strange sense of peace — desperate, perhaps, but peace.

  • Exclusion is always dangerous. Inclusion is the only safety if we are to have a peaceful world ...

  • ... in this unbelievable universe in which we live, there are no absolutes. Even parallel lines, reaching into infinity, meet somewhere yonder.

  • ... all things are possible until they are proved impossible — and even the impossible may only be so, as of now.

  • The typhoon came out of the sea first as a deep hollow roar. ... I was surrounded by the madness, the unreason, of uncontrolled, undisciplined energy. None of this made any sense. It was worse than useless — it was nature destroying its own creation — its own self. To create by the long process of growth and then to destroy by a fit of wild emotion — was this not madness, was this not unreason?

  • Science and religion, religion and science, put it as I may, they are two sides of the same glass, through which we see darkly until these two, focusing together, reveal the truth.

  • To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.

  • The secret of joy in work is contained in one word — excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.

  • If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.

  • The community must assume responsibility for each child within its confines. Not one must be neglected whatever his condition. The community must see that every child gets the advantages and opportunities which are due him as a citizen and as a human being.

  • ... nature knows no sex limitations and does not bestow brains upon men alone. Daughters inherit gifts exactly as often and as much as sons.

  • Once the 'what' is decided, the 'how' always follows. We must not make the 'how' an excuse for not facing and accepting the 'what.'

  • To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.

  • Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together.

  • The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and find no other inspiration.

  • ... to eat bread without hope is still slowly to starve to death.

  • Food for all is a necessity. Food should not be a merchandise, to be bought and sold as jewels are bought and sold by those who have the money to buy. Food is a human necessity, like water and air, and it should be as available.

  • Growth itself contains the germ of happiness.

  • Love dies only when growth stops.

  • You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.

  • I do not believe in a child world. It is a fantasy world. I believe the child should be taught from the very first that the whole world is his world, that adult and child share one world, that all generations are needed.

  • We need to restore the full meaning of that old word, duty. It is the other side of rights.

  • Praise out of season, or tactlessly bestowed, can freeze the heart as much as blame.

  • A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love.

  • The concept of 'Momism' is male nonsense. It is the refuge of a man seeking excuses for his own lack of virility. I have listened to many women in various countries, and I have never found a woman who willingly 'mothers' her husband. The very idea is repulsive to her. She wants to mother the children while they are young, but never their fathers. True, she may be forced into the role of mother by a man's weaknesses and childishness, and then she accepts the role with dignity and patience, or with anger and impatience, but always with a secret, profound sadness unexpressed and inexpressible.

  • Nothing in life is as good as the marriage of true minds between man and woman. As good? It is life itself.

  • Order is the shape upon which beauty depends.

  • No daughter is ever her mother's darling. That spot is always reserved for the son.

  • If I have learned anything in my long life it is to be grateful for every occasion when I followed my sympathies and avoided my antipathies.

  • ... the heart never grows old.

  • Love can never be a sin. It can be only a blessing. Even if you're not loved in return — though I can't imagine that — to love is a proof of life — indeed, it's the only proof, for once you can't love another human being, you're not alive.

  • It is love itself that is important — the ability to love, no matter whom you love. For when you can no longer love anyone, you are no longer a living person. The heart dies if it loses the capacity to love.

  • The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create ... so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or building or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Theodore F. Harris, Pearl S. Buck: A Biography, vol. 2 ()
  • ... Iowans know themselves and what they are doing. They are doing well.

  • ... the proper place to eat lobster ... is in a lobster shack as close to the sea as possible. There is no menu card because there is nothing else to eat except boiled lobster with melted butter.

  • Vermont is a country unto itself.

  • All in all, Vermont is a jewel state, small but precious.

  • Nothing and no one can destroy the Chinese people. They are relentless survivors. They are the oldest civilized people on earth. Their civilization passes through phases but its basic characteristics remain the same. They yield, they bend to the wind, but they never break.

  • Ah well, perhaps one has to be very old before one learns how to be amused rather than shocked.

  • No one really understood music unless he was a scientist, her father had declared, and not just a scientist, either, oh, no, only the real ones, the theoreticians, whose language was mathematics.

  • The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible — and achieve it, generation after generation.

  • ... an artist is always seeking revelation.

  • What a man does in his own house cannot concern the nation.

  • There is no beauty without order.

  • The uncommitted life is not worth living. We either believe in something or we don't ... Commitment is willingness to stand up and be counted. It is a human must for young and old, for black and white, for Christian, Moslem and Buddhist. It is skill plus goodwill. It is a thoughtful decision on the part of an individual to participate passionately in the events of his time ... Commitment will bring sadness as well as joy, loneliness as well as friendship, but whichever it is, it brings excitement and demands the use of all a person's resources. Even beyond this, it increases our capacity for the generous enjoyment of life and colors all we do with a concern for others ... With commitment, we can move mountains. Without it we cannot move a molehill.

    • Pearl S. Buck
  • As for inhibitions, I've spent a lifetime developing them, and I don't intend to lose them.

    • Pearl S. Buck
  • Upon the profound discontent of the young in every country do I set my faith. I beg you, the young, to be discontented. I pray that you may rebel against what is wrong, not with feeble negative complaining but with strong positive assertion of what is right for all humanity.

    • Pearl S. Buck
  • Just about everything significant in my life happened after I passed forty. I was a housewife and mother, but yearned to be a writer. I worked at my writing whenever I could snatch a moment, and I assembled several manuscripts. I was just about forty when my first novel, East Wind, West Wind, was published. Then a few months later came The Good Earth. My career was launched at last, and it has given me the richest possible satisfaction

    • Pearl S. Buck
  • The highest civilizations — the longest to last and I believe the most successful in human terms — are those which have come the closest to achieving real understanding and mutual appreciation between men and women.

    • Pearl S. Buck
  • When good people in any country cease their vigilance and struggle, then evil men prevail.

    • Pearl S. Buck
  • I know that the only completely happy life for man and for woman is their life, first together, and then with their children. I am a firm believer that no marriage can be really happy, and no home a happy one for the children as well, unless man puts woman first and woman puts man first, each for the other the giver of every good gift. Children are the fruit of this total love.

    • Pearl S. Buck
  • We sent missionaries to China so the Chinese could get to heaven, but we wouldn't let them into our country.

    • Pearl S. Buck
  • If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.

    • Pearl S. Buck
  • The basic discovery about any people, therefore, is the discovery of the relationship between its men and women.

  • ... men cannot be free in a nation where women are forbidden freedom.

  • A man is educated and turned out to work. But a woman is educated — and turned out to grass.

  • The feeling one has after coming to know American women is that they are starving at their sources.

  • For no country is a true democracy whose women have not an equal share in life with men, and until we realize this we shall never achieve a real democracy on this earth.

  • I do not believe there is any important difference between men and women — certainly not as much as they may be between one woman and another or one man and another.

  • ... the vicious result of privilege is that the creature who receives it becomes incapacitated by it as by a disease.

  • For Nature is not unjust. She does not steal into the womb and like an evil fairy give her good gifts secretly to men and deny them to women. Men and women are born free and equal in ability and brain. The injustice begins after birth.

  • ... doing and being are very closely tied together, and unless you are doing what you secretly want to do, you aren't able to be the sort of person you want to be.

  • War is the most devastating endemic and epidemic disease the human race has to endure, and yet too little has been done to discover and eliminate its cause by intelligent early control.

  • For war to man, like childbirth to women, is simplifying in its emotions and activities. All the real problems of life can be put aside while the one thing is done and little thought is needed to do it. ... His hatreds can be expressed without censure, he can let his emotions run free, he can behave as dramatically, as heroically as he likes, and no one laughs at him. It is almost impossible for a man to behave heroically in the cool and ordinary times of peace. But in war anything is allowed him, he is praised and applauded and made much of, as women are excused and allowed for in pregnancy.

  • The truth has never been told about women in history: that everywhere man has gone woman has gone too, and what he has done she has done also. Women are ignorant of their own past and ignorant of their own importance in that past.

  • Let woman out of the home, let man into it, should be the aim of education. The home needs man, and the world outside needs woman. Children need their fathers at home and they need their mothers outside of it. That is, the work of the world needs to be done by men and women together.

  • It is easy to overthrow a government but very difficult to build a new one ...

  • ... day by day they were learning to live in resistance to the enemy, and this is a greater thing than to die in resistance.

  • ... though some men did not make war as others did, if they sold their goods for profit to the war-makers, did it make them better because the weapon was not in their own hands, if they had made the weapon and sold it and so put it into the hands of those used it upon the innocent?

  • Only people who are assured of daily food can concern themselves with matters of principle and ethic. A man will become a slave rather than starve.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Pearl S. Buck and Carlos P. Romulo, Friend to Friend ()
  • ... prejudice is a manifestation of irrational hostility against certain persons and groups. Obviously there is nothing definitive about the persons and the groups, since in different parts of the world the victims are white Americans, dark Americans, Jews, Gentiles, women, Irish, Catholics, Puerto Ricans — in fact, anybody, anywhere. ... the cause is not to be found primarily in the hate-object. Therefore it must be found in the hate-subject, which is to surmise that the root of prejudice is not really in the person or group against whom discrimination and prejudice are vented but in the person or group expressing such emotion. The aggressor, not the victim, is the guilty party. ... The prejudiced person hates ... because it is necessary for him to hate.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Pearl S. Buck and Carlos P. Romulo, Friend to Friend ()
  • Prejudice ... is a subjective emotion which expresses itself upon others only because of an inner necessity for release. The object is irrelevant and opportune. The person who feels prejudice is the victim of himself and his own unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Life is not what he wants it to be and it has not been what he wishes it had been.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Pearl S. Buck and Carlos P. Romulo, Friend to Friend ()
  • A favorite means of escaping the solution to any problem is to declare it too complex for solution. This absolves us from attempting solution. ... Any problem is too complex to solve when we do not wish to accept the conditions of solution. Solution is possible where acceptance is ready.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Pearl S. Buck and Carlos P. Romulo, Friend to Friend ()
  • ... the scientist we need most may be hidden in a little girl, or in a dark-skinned infant. Prejudice will cost us more than we can replace if we allow the prejudiced among those who make the search.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Pearl S. Buck and Carlos P. Romulo, Friend to Friend ()
  • No longer can we afford to stuff the brains of the young with facts. The time is too short, the necessity for results too pressing. The new education must be based on the elimination of facts except as they illustrate principles. How to use facts, not how to accumulate them, is the purpose of true education.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Pearl S. Buck and Carlos P. Romulo, Friend to Friend ()
  • A foreigner is a friend I have yet to meet.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Pearl S. Buck and Carlos P. Romulo, Friend to Friend ()
  • Fatalism is a false premise. What will be is not necessarily what must be ...

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • in Pearl S. Buck and Carlos P. Romulo, Friend to Friend ()
  • ... she doesn't try to improve us. She makes us want to improve ourselves. It's quite different.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • "India, India," East and West ()
  • ... he made no joke in his own home and he was seldom merry even with his own children. He was such a one as seemed to save all his good humor and his merry, lovable looks for strangers and for those who were not of his own house.

  • ... you seem to grieve for what is not so ... and there is no need to let your heart run ahead into evils that may never come.

  • Story belongs to the people. They are sounder judges of it than anyone else, for their senses are unspoiled and their emotions are free.

    • Pearl S. Buck,
    • Nobel speech ()
  • The truth is always exciting. Speak it, then. Life is dull without it.

Pearl S. Buck, U.S. novelist, Nobel Prize winner

(1892 - 1973)

Full name: Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker Buck. Some of her books were published under the name John Sedges.