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Dorothy Canfield Fisher

"... we don't decide anything. We just slide along thinking of something else. If people would only give, just once in their lives, the same amount of serious reflection to what they want to get out of life that they give to the question of what they want to get out of a two-weeks' vacation ..."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Squirrel-Cage (1912)

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"... like other potentates with a long habit of arbitrary authority, she covered her perplexity with a smart show of decision."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Bent Twig (1915)

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"I've always noticed that nobody can be single-minded who isn't narrow-minded; and I think it likely that people who aren't so cocksure what they want to do with themselves, hesitate because they have a great deal more to deal with. A nature rich in fine and complex possibilities takes more time to dispose of itself, but when it does, the world's beauty is the gainer."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Bent Twig (1915)

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"There's no healthy life possible without some sensual feeling between the husband and wife, but there's nothing in the world more awful than married life when it's the only common ground."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Bent Twig (1915)

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"... don't let anything make you believe that there are not as many decent men in the world as women, and they're just as decent. Life isn't worth living unless you know that -- and it's true."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Bent Twig (1915)

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"... one reason we haven't any national art is because we have too much magnificence. All our capacity for admiration is used up on the splendor of palace-like railway stations and hotels. Our national tympanum is so deafened by that blare of sumptuousness that we have no ears for the still, small voice of beauty."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Bent Twig (1915)

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"Mrs. Marshall-Smith, continuing steadily to talk (on the theory that talking prevents too great concentration of thought), and making the round of all the possible things to say ..."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Bent Twig (1915)

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"... perhaps all this modern ferment of what's known as 'social conscience' or 'civic responsibility' isn't a result of the sense of duty, but of the old, old craving for beauty."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Bent Twig (1915)

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"... the encounter with death is the great turning-point in the lives of those who live on."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Bent Twig (1915)

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"... you are dipped up from the great river of consciousness, and death only pours you back."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Bent Twig (1915)

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"Life takes hold of us with strong hands and makes us greater than we thought. "

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Bent Twig (1915)

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"... I'm as fixed in my opinion as the man who thought he was a hard-boiled egg."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Bent Twig (1915)

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"The teachers of small children are paid more than they were, but still far less than the importance of their work deserves, and they are still regarded by the unenlightened majority as insignificant compared to those who impart information to older children and adolescents, a class of pupils which, in the nature of things, is vastly more able to protect its own individuality from the character of the teacher."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, A Montessori Mother (1916)

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"... help that is not positively necessary is a hindrance to a growing organism."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, A Montessori Mother (1916)

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"... the most elementary experience of life proves that the effects of compulsion last exactly as long as the physical or moral club can be applied."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, A Montessori Mother (1916)

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"Some people think that doctors and nurses can put scrambled eggs back into the shell."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, "Supply and Demand," Raw Material (1923)

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"Oh, yes, of course I like music, too. Very much. It's so pleasant of an evening, especially when made by your friends at home. I often say I like it better than cards. Though I must say I do like a good game of bridge."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Her Son's Wife (1926)

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"There is no human relationship more intimate than that of nurse and patient, one in which the essentials of character are more rawly revealed."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Her Son's Wife (1926)

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"... a mother is not a person to lean upon, but a person to make leaning unnecessary."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Her Son's Wife (1926)

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"What is life but one long risk?"

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Deepening Stream (1930)

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"Taking somebody's sacrifices is like taking counterfeit money. You're only the poorer."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Bonfire (1933)

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"On New Year's Day every calendar, large and small, has the same number of dates. But we soon learn that the years are of very different lengths."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Bonfire (1933)

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"... you think religion is what's inside a little building filled with pretty lights from stained glass windows! But it's not. It's wings! Wings"

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Bonfire (1933)

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"Mamma was a crackerjack of a business woman. The kind that'd make money if you let her down a well ..."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Bonfire (1933)

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"You can't wish a body any worse luck than to get what he wants."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Bonfire (1933)

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"The skull of life suddenly showed through its smile."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Bonfire (1933)

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"Vermont tradition is based on the idea that group life should leave each person as free as possible to arrange his own life. This freedom is the only climate in which (we feel) a human being may create his own happiness. ... Character itself lies deep and secret below the surface, unknown and unknowable by others. It is the mysterious core of life, which every man or woman has to cope with alone, to live with, to conquer and put in order, or to be defeated by."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Vermont Tradition (1935)

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"The relation of man to the animals he has lived with -- from the cave age to the machine age -- has been a vital one, to which many scratched-on-rock pictures bear witness. ... Our relations with kept animals has nothing in common with the older, organically sound relation, when animals had their allotted place in the great struggle for survival. Perhaps the slow, almost unobserved, disappearance of animals as our fellow-workers is a sign of our turn away from the past, towards a new future. The desperate clutch at them as pets, as useless ornaments living in a psychological vacuum, may be due to our unconscious consternation at the departure of so visible a part of our past. Our hearts, if not our minds, are dismayed to see them silently moving towards the exit sign, leaving us alone with the machine -- and with each other."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Vermont Tradition (1935)

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"... I never heard of anybody who admired the character of sheep. Even the gentlest human personalities in contact with them are annoyed by their lack of brains, courage and initiative, by their extraordinary ability to get themselves into uncomfortable or dangerous situations and then wait in inert helplessness for someone to rescue them."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Vermont Tradition (1935)

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"Compared with more emotional types, Vermonters seem to have few passions. But those they have are great and burning. The greatest is their conviction that without freedom human life is not worth living."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Vermont Tradition (1935)

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"Never since the dawn of human history, as far as I can find out, did people long settled in any region give a friendly welcome to newcomers. One of the disagreeable traits of our human nature seems to be to dislike on sight people who come later than the first settlers."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Vermont Tradition (1935)

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"If we could learn how to utilize all the intelligence and patent good will children are born with, instead of ignoring much of it -- why -- there might be enough to go around! There might be enough to solve our alarming human problems, to put an end to poverty, to stop waging wars."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Vermont Tradition (1935)

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"The classroom in the modern city child's life is the only equivalent for what used to be 'his community.'"

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Vermont Tradition (1935)

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"... it was always insolent for a common man to take a chair in the presence of a lady -- the word LADY, we may be sure, capitalized in her mind, and denoting not sex but rank."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Vermont Tradition (1935)

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"Almost anything is enough to keep alive someone who wishes nothing for himself but time to write music ..."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, "An Unprejudiced Mind," Fables for Parents (1937)

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"Libraries are the vessels in which the seed corn for the future is stored. "

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, in Emily M. Danton, ed., The Library of Tomorrow (1939)

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"The matter was that never before had [Betsy] known what she was doing in school. She had always thought she was there to pass from one grade to another, and she was ever so startled to get a glimpse of the fact that she weas there to learn how to use her mind, so she could take care of herself when she came to be grown up."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Understood Betsy (1945)

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"No Vermont town ever let anybody in it starve."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, "Henry and His Aunt Anna," Four-Square (1949)

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"Regularity was an air they could not breathe."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, "Henry and His Aunt Anna," Four-Square (1949)

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"Professional psychologists seem to think that they are the only people who make sense out of human actions. The rest of us know that everybody tries to do just this. What else is gossip?"

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, "The Moran Scandal," Four-Square (1949)

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"One of the many things nobody ever tells you about middle age is that it's such a nice change from being young."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, in Herbert V. Prochnow, Speaker's Handbook of Epigrams and Witticisms (1955)

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"What better can any of us do than to reach for our own stars ... and know which they are?"

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, "What My Mother Taught Me," A Harvest of Stories (1956)

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"Everyone bowed to that unwritten law of family life which ordains that, in the long run, everyone submerges his personal preference in the effort to conform to that of the member of the circle who complains most loudly and is most difficult to satisfy."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, "Uncle Giles," A Harvest of Stories (1956)

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"For they were undertaking a hazardous feat compared to which hunting big game or living among hostile savages is sport for children. They were moving from one social class to the one above it."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, "The Murder on Jefferson Street," A Harvest of Stories (1956)

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"... he was impelled, by the fatality that hangs over people who have struck a false note, to strike it yet more loudly."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, "The Murder on Jefferson Street," A Harvest of Stories (1956)

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"What a fearfully distracting, perplexing and heart-searching business it is to live."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, in Elizabeth Yates, Pebble in a Pool (1958)

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"... gossip ... is only fiction produced by non-professionals."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, in Elizabeth Yates, Pebble in a Pool (1958)

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"The richness and endless variety of human relationships ... that's what authors, even the finest and greatest, only succeed in hinting at. It's a hopeless business, like trying to dip up the ocean with a tea-spoon."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, 1920, in Mark J. Madigan, ed., Keeping Fires Night and Day: Selected Letters of Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1993)

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"What's the use of inventing a better system as long as there just aren't enough folks with sense to go around?"

Dorothy Canfield Fisher

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"The actions of a human being, even of fifteen months of age, may not be without significance to a sympathetic eye."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher

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"The memory of man could not go back to a time when that town had not had a public library. It was the pride of the remote village, lost among the Green Mountains, that long before Carnegie ever left Scotland there had been a collection of books free to all in the wing of Deacon Bradlaugh's house. Then as now the feat was achieved by the united efforts of all inhabitants."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Hillsboro People (1915)

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"Freedom is not worth fighting for if it means no more than license for everyone to get as much as he can for himself."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Seasoned Timber (1939)

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"... there's no such thing as luck. Nothing ever just happens to anybody. ... nothing can really happen to a person till he lets it happen."

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Seasoned Timber (1939)

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Dorothy Canfield Fisher, U.S. writer
(1879 - 1958)