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Hortense Calisher

  • But memory, after a time, dispenses its own emphasis, making a feuilleton of what we once thought most ponderable, laying its wreath on what we never thought to recall.

    • Hortense Calisher,
    • "A Wreath for Miss Totten," In the Absence of Angels ()
  • His book was an instant success with those who thought of themselves as thinking for themselves (if they had only had time for it).

    • Hortense Calisher,
    • "A Christmas Carillon," The Collected Stories of Hortense Calisher ()
  • She was one of those women who used their charge accounts for retaliation. With each crisis in their deteriorating relationship, Grorley noted gloomily, Eunice's wardrobe had improved.

    • Hortense Calisher,
    • "A Christmas Carillon," The Collected Stories of Hortense Calisher ()
  • ... the words! I collected them in all shapes and sizes, and hung them like bangles in my mind.

    • Hortense Calisher,
    • "Little Did I Know," Extreme Magic ()
  • I always say that one's poetry is a solace to oneself and a nuisance to one's friends.

    • Hortense Calisher,
    • "Little Did I Know," Extreme Magic ()
  • It has always seemed to me that if you could talk about your work in fully-formed phrases, you wouldn't write it. The writing is the statement, you see, and it seems to me that the poem or the story or the novel you write is the kind of metaphor you cast on life.

    • Hortense Calisher,
    • in Roy Newquist, Conversations ()
  • I don't suppose there's really any critic except posterity.

    • Hortense Calisher,
    • in Roy Newquist, Conversations ()
  • A happy childhood can't be cured. Mine'll hang around my neck like a rainbow, that's all, instead of a noose.

  • The standard dreaming of a society has to be listened to.

  • It took most people a lifetime to join the human race.

  • The young show the genetic process, the old merely die of it.

  • Speech isn't for agony.

  • First publication is a pure, carnal leap in that dark which one dreams is light.

    • Hortense Calisher,
    • in Hortense Calisher: Herself ()
  • Families never die.

  • Aaa — deliver me from married people's parties. Couples who have bashes all the time, so that the ree-lay-shun-ship may have an audience.

  • In a family, the same spoken lines come in over and over. Intimacy exhausts.

  • People's energies flag after they've been with her for awhile — she knows that.

  • Women can't travel light. We're in charge of the basic facts.

  • Sociology, the guilty science, functions best by alarm.

    • Hortense Calisher,
    • in The New York Times ()
  • ... if you listen too hard to the technology, your ear goes deaf to its implications.

  • But the trek that starts with the feet always rises in time to the head. There had never been any of mankind's that didn't.

  • How clerks love refusing. It salves them for being clerks.

  • ... to her cabbies had always been the city's nurses, its twenty-four-hours-a-day attendants through whose changing licenses one could clock the city's migrants — the world's.

  • Agony without genius was gaucherie.

  • Decades go faster toward the end of a century.

  • Balance is compromise. Of the muscles.

  • Diplomacy is what is practiced after-the-fact. Never be too right too soon — as any smart Uncle will tell you. The man who guesses what will happen will be blamed for it. No one will believe he has merely guessed.

  • ... perhaps there's no sharper spur to meditation than answered prayer.

  • The novel is rescued life.

    • Hortense Calisher

Hortense Calisher, U.S. novelist, educator

(1911 - 2009)