Welcome to the web’s most comprehensive site of quotations by women. 44,539 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

Joyce Carol Oates

  • Like hungry flies, his thoughts buzzed around inside his head.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • title story, By the North Gate ()
  • He did not like children; he instinctively feared their honesty.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "The Census Taker," By the North Gate ()
  • Whoever was stupid was beneath worry or thought; you did not have to figure them out. This eliminated hundreds of people. In this life you had time only for a certain amount of thinking, and there was no need to waste any of it on people who were not threatening.

  • The use of language is all we have to pit against death and silence.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • speech at National Book Awards ()
  • This is a work of history in fictional form — that is, in personal perspective, which is the only kind of history that exists.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • Them
    • ()
  • Loneliness is dangerous. It's bad for you to be alone, to be lonely, because if aloneness does not lead to God, it leads to the devil. It leads to self.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Shame," The Wheel of Love ()
  • ... he had made the transition from 'promising' to 'established' without anything in between, like most middle-aged critics of prominence.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Accomplished Desires," The Wheel of Love ()
  • ... a daydreamer is prepared for most things ...

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Accomplished Desires," The Wheel of Love ()
  • There is a terrible weight in all kinds of beauty

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Bodies," The Wheel of Love ()
  • The skin is the most impermeable barrier of the body. It is always thirsty. Its thirst is insatiable. Human thirsts are satisfied from time to time, but the thirst of the human skin is never satisfied so long as it lives.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Bodies," The Wheel of Love ()
  • Night comes to the desert all at once, as if someone turned off a light.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Interior Monologue," The Wheel of Love ()
  • In love there are two things — bodies and words.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Mademsoiselle ()
  • After love a formal feeling comes.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • poem title, Love and Its Derangements ()
  • The brain is a muscle / of busy hills, the struggle / of unthought things with things / eternally thought.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "The Grave Dwellers," Love and Its Derangements ()
  • ... like all virtuous people he imagines he must speak the truth ...

  • The only people who claim that money is not important are people who have enough money so that they are relieved of the ugly burden of thinking about it.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Barbaralee Diamonstein, Open Secrets ()
  • The worst cynicism: a belief in luck.

  • Art does the same things dreams do. We have a hunger for dreams and art fulfills that hunger. So much of real life is a disappointment. That's why we have art.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Newsweek ()
  • One must be pitiless about this matter of 'mood.' In a sense the writing will create the mood. ... I have forced myself to begin writing when I've been utterly exhausted, when I've felt my soul as thin as a playing-card, when nothing has seemed worth enduring for another five minutes ... and somehow the activity of writing changes everything. Or appears to do so.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Robert Phillips, "Joyce Carol Oates: The Art of Fiction LXXII," The Paris Review ()
  • ... doesn't everyone feel rather exiled? ... the mere passage of time makes us all exiles.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Robert Phillips, "Joyce Carol Oates: The Art of Fiction LXXII," The Paris Review ()
  • If you are a writer, you locate yourself behind a wall of silence and no matter what you are doing, driving a car or walking or doing housework ... you can still be writing because you have that space.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Lucinda Franks, "The Emergence of Joyce Carol Oates," New York Times Magazine ()
  • Childhood is the province of the imagination and when I immerse myself in it, I re-create it as it was, as it could have been, as I wanted — and didn't want — it to be.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Lucinda Franks, "The Emergence of Joyce Carol Oates," New York Times Magazine ()
  • The suicide does not play the game, does not observe the rules. He leaves the party too soon, and leaves the other guests painfully uncomfortable.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "The Art of Suicide," in Margaret Pabst Battin, ed., Suicide: The Philsophical Issues ()
  • We are stimulated to emotional response not by works that confirm our sense of the world, but by works that challenge it.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • introduction, Contraries ()
  • I am inclined to think that as I grow older I will come to be infatuated with the art of revision, and there may come a time when I will dread giving up a novel at all.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in George Plimpton, ed., Writers at Work, 5th series ()
  • Perhaps the inevitable tragedy of our complex civilization is that we must be specialists in our fields — and our fields have become increasingly difficult, so that communication is nearly impossible.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Leif Sjoberg, "An Interview With Joyce Carol Oates," Contemporary Literature ()
  • I believe that the creative impulse is natural in all human beings, and that it is particularly powerful in children unless it is suppressed. Consequently, one is behaving normally and instinctively and healthily when one is creating — literature, art, music, or whatever. An excellent cook is also creative! I am disturbed that a natural human inclination [creative work] should, by some Freudian turn of phrase, be considered compulsive — perhaps even pathological. To me this is a complete misreading of the human enterprise. One should also enjoy one's work, and look forward to it daily.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Leif Sjoberg, "An Interview With Joyce Carol Oates," Contemporary Literature ()
  • One gains a certain hold on one's life / by boldly casting it aside.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Homage to Virginia Woolf," Invisible Woman ()
  • My love: you make me permanent / like old unlovely clay relics / unearthed in the Egypt / of the ancient dead.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Domestic Miracles," Invisible Woman ()
  • Nothing comes of so many things, if you have patience.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Master Race," Partisan Review ()
  • Great art is cathartic; it is always moral.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, eds., The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women ()
  • The blow you can't see coming is the blow that knocks you out ...

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Golden Gloves," Raven's Wing ()
  • If food is poetry is not poetry also food?

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Writers' Hunger: Food as Metaphor," in The New York Times ()
  • Boxing is a celebration of the lost religion of masculinity, all the more trenchant for its being lost.

  • There are boxers possessed of such remarkable intuition, such uncanny prescience, one would think they were somehow recalling their fights, not fighting them as we watch.

  • The 'third man in the ring' ... makes boxing possible.

  • ... love commingled with hate is more powerful than love. Or hate.

  • My writing is full of lives I might have led.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Jay Parini, "My Writing Is Full of Lives I Might Have Led," The Boston Globe Magazine ()
  • Getting the first draft finished is like pushing a peanut with your nose across a very dirty floor.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Robert Compton, "Joyce Carol Oates Keeps Punching," The Dallas Morning News ()
  • When I'm really involved or getting towards the end of a novel, I can write for up to ten hours a day. At those times, it's as though I'm writing a letter to someone I'm desperately in love with.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in Rita D. Jacobs, "A Day in the Life," T.W.A. Ambassador ()
  • Easier, she thinks, to hate yourself than to respect yourself: it involves less imagination.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Tick," The Assignation ()
  • One of life's minor satisfactions is forgetting.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "In Traction," The Assignation ()
  • Not even the most devastating truth can be told; it must be evoked.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Selections from a Journal: January 1985-January 1988," in Daniel Halpern, ed., Antaeus ()
  • Ideas brush past fleeting and insubstantial as moths. But I let them go, I don't want them. What I want is a voice.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Selections from a Journal: January 1985-January 1988," in Daniel Halpern, ed., Antaeus ()
  • ... while there are 'women writers' there are not, and have never been, 'men writers.' This is an empty category, a class without specimens; for the noun 'writer' — the very verb 'writing' — always implies masculinity.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "(Woman) Writer: Theory and Practice," (Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities ()
  • Prose — it might be speculated — is discourse; poetry ellipsis. Prose is spoken aloud; poetry overheard. The one is presumably articulate and social, a shared language, the voice of 'communication'; the other is private, allusive, teasing, sly, idiosyncratic as the spider's delicate web, a kind of witchcraft unfathomable to ordinary minds.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "The Romance of Emily Dickinson's Poetry," (Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities ()
  • Budapest in late May is a city of lilacs. The sweet, languid, rather sleepy smell of lilacs wafts everywhere. And it is a city of lovers, many of them quite middle-aged. Walking with their arms around each other, embracing and kissing on park benches. A sensuousness very much bound up (it seems to me) with the heady ubiquitous smell of lilacs.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Budapest Journal: May 1980," (Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities ()
  • The quintessential American city. That fast-beating stubborn heart.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Visions of Detroit," (Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities ()
  • Boxing is an American sport — a 'so-called sport' to many — in which images of incalculable beauty and violence, desperation and ingenuity, are routinely entwined; the sport that evokes the most extreme reactions — loathing, revulsion, righteous indigation; a fierce and often inexplicable loyalty.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Five Prefaces," (Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities ()
  • I used to think getting old was about vanity — but actually it's about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in The Guardian ()
  • In families there are frequently matters of which no one speaks, nor even alludes. There are no words for these matters. As the binding skeleton beneath the flesh is never acknowledged by us and, when at last it defines itself, is after all an obscenity.

  • Near the point of impact, time acelerates to the speed of light.

  • Can compromise be an art? — yes, but a minor art.

  • [Emily] Dickinson, our supreme poet of inwardness.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "The One Unforgivable Sin," New York Times Book Review ()
  • What is a family, after all, except memories? — haphazard and precious as the contents of a catchall drawer in the kitchen.

  • Evil isn't a cosmological riddle, only just selfish human behavior.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in The New York Times Book Review ()
  • Writing is the most solitary of arts.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • introduction, The Faith of a Writer ()
  • I believe that art is the highest expression of the human spirit. I believe that we yearn to transcend the merely finite and ephemeral; to participate in something mysterious and communal called 'culture' — and that this yearning is as strong in our species as the yearning to reproduce the species.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "My Faith As a Writer," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • ... I read books. Avidly, ardently! As if my life depended upon it.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "District School," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • Early publication can be a dubious blessing: we all know writers who would give anything not to have published their first book, and go about trying to buy up all existing copies.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "To a Young Writer," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • The novel is the affliction for which only the novel is the cure.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "To a Young Writer," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • ... I believe that any form of art is a species of exploration and transgression. ... Art by its nature is a transgressive act, and artists must accept being punished for it. The more original and unsettling their art, the more devastating the punishment.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Running and Writing," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • Stories come to us as wraiths requiring precise embodiments.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Running and Writing," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • Art originates in play — in improvisation, experiment, and fantasy; it remains forever, in its deepest instincts, playful and spontaneous, an exercise of the imagination analogous to the exercising of the physical body to no purpose other than ecstatic release.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "What Sin to Me Unknown .. ," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • Art is fueled by rebellion: the need, in some amounting to obsessions, to resist what is, to defy one's elders, even to the point of ostracism; to define oneself, and by extension one's generation, as new, novel, ungovernable.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "What Sin to Me Unknown .. ," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • ... the art of reading hardly differs from the art of writing, in that its most intense pleasures and pains must remains private, and cannot be communicated to others.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Notes on Failure," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • ... that supreme artist of solitude, Emily Dickinson ...

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "Reading As a Writer," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • Self-criticism, like self-administered brain surgery, is perhaps not a good idea. Can the 'self' see the 'self' with any objectivity?

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "The Enigmatic Art of Self-Criticism," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • It's rare that we actively and consciously 'forget'; most of the time we have simply forgotten, with no consciousness of having forgotten. In individuals, the phenomenon is called 'denial'; in entire cultures and nations, it's usually called 'history.'

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "The Enigmatic Art of Self-Criticism," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • And what is 'art'? — a firestorm rushing through Time, arising from no visible source and conforming to no principles of logic or causality.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • "'JCO' and I (After Borges)," The Faith of a Writer ()
  • No person could save another.

  • Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make famous.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • commencement speech, Mount Holyoke ()
  • ... we are linked by blood, and blood is memory without language.

    • Joyce Carol Oates
  • The very sound of the word, the dazzling exotic color that shimmers inside the word, is a poem of surpassing beauty, complete in this line: Orange.

    • Joyce Carol Oates
  • I learned long ago that being Lewis Carroll is infinitely more exciting than being Alice.

    • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.

    • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Any writer who has difficulty in writing is probably not onto his true subject, but wasting time with false, petty goals; as soon as you connect with your true subject you will write.

    • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Our enemy is by tradition our savior, in preventing us from superficiality.

    • Joyce Carol Oates,
    • in William Phillips, ed., Partisan Review 50th Anniversary Edition ()

Joyce Carol Oates, U.S. writer, poet, educator

(1938)

Oates also has written under the names Rosamond Smith and Lauren Kelly.