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Marilynne Robinson

  • Then there is the matter of my mother's abandonment of me. Again, this is the common experience. They walk ahead of us, and walk too fast, and forget us, they are so lost in thoughts of their own, and soon or late they disappear. The only mystery is that we expect it to be otherwise.

  • To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it? And here again is a foreshadowing — the world will be made whole. For to wish for a hand on one's hair is all but to feel it. So whatever we may lose, its very craving gives it back to us again. Though we dream and hardly know it, longing, like an angel, fosters us, smooths our hair, and brings us wild strawberries.

  • Fact explains nothing. On the contrary, it is fact that requires explanation.

  • The force behind the movement of time is a mourning that will not be comforted. That is why the first event is known to have been an expulsion, and the last is hoped to be a reconciliation and return. So memory pulls us forward, so prophecy is only brilliant memory — there will be a garden where all of us as one child will sleep in our mother Eve, hooped in her ribs and staved by her spine.

  • And there is no living creature, though the whims of eons had put its eyes on boggling stalks and clamped it in a carapace, diminished it to a pinpoint and given it a taste for mud and stuck it down a well or hid it under a stone, but that creature will live on if it can.

  • ... pity and charity may be at root an attempt to propitiate the dark powers that have not touched us yet.

  • For families will not be broken. Curse and expel them, send their children wandering, drown them in floods and fires, and old women will make songs out of all these sorrows and sit in the porches and sing them on mild evenings.

  • Every sorrow suggests a thousand songs, and every song recalls a thousand sorrows, and so they are infinite in number, and all the same.

  • He [Christ] even restored the severed ear of the soldier who came to arrest Him — a fact that allows us to hope the resurrection will reflect a considerable attention to detail.

  • Dawn and its excesses always reminded me of heaven, a place where I have always known I would not be comfortable.

  • I think the essence of family is that you have to agree to it, and then supply, out of your imagination and capacity for loyalty, the contents of it.

    • Marilynne Robinson,
    • in Neil Baldwin and Diane Osen, eds., The Writing Life ()
  • Many times when I stop working on a problem consciously, my mind continues to work on it below the surface. Often solutions come on me quite by surprise. I've learned over time to allow that to happen, rather than to feel that I can simply solve the problem by continuous, grueling effort.

    • Marilynne Robinson,
    • in Arts & Sciences ()
  • I wrote almost all of it in the deepest hope and conviction. Sifting my thoughts and choosing my words. Trying to say what was true. And I'll tell you frankly, that was wonderful.

    • Marilynne Robinson,
    • Gilead
    • ()
  • There was some sort of maze-learning experiment involved in my final grade and since I remember the rat who was my colleague as uncooperative, or perhaps merely incompetent at being a rat, or tired of the whole thing, I don't remember how I passed.

  • The great truth that is too often forgotten is that it is in the nature of people to do good to one another.

  • That's one good thing about the way life is, that no one can know you if you don't let them.

    • Marilynne Robinson,
    • Lila
    • ()
  • This is not to say that joy is a compensation for loss, but that each of them, joy and loss, exists in its own right and must be recognised for what it is ... So joy can be joy and sorrow can be sorrow, with neither of them casting either light or shadow on the other.

    • Marilynne Robinson,
    • Lila
    • ()
  • A letter makes ordinary things seem important.

    • Marilynne Robinson,
    • Lila
    • ()
  • The old man always said we should attend to the things we have some hope of understanding, and eternity isn't one of them. Well, this world isn't one either.

    • Marilynne Robinson,
    • Lila
    • ()

Marilynne Robinson, U.S. writer

(1943)

Full name: Marilynne Summers Robinson.