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Edna O'Brien

  • Oh, God, who does not exist, you hate women, otherwise you'd have made them different.

  • Upstairs she lay awake and planned a new, heroic role for herself. She would expiate all her sins by sinking into domesticity. ... she would put her lily hand down into sewerages and save him the trouble of lifting up the ooze and hairs and gray slime that resulted from their daily lives.

  • August is a wicked month.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • book title ()
  • Kindness. The most unkind thing of all.

  • She looks like her eyes have been taken out and deep-fried ...

  • When you fall in love, it is spring no matter when. Leaves falling make no difference, they are from another season ...

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "Diary of an Unfaithful Wife," in Cosmopolitan ()
  • We hide the truer part of ourselves when we love.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "Diary of an Unfaithful Wife," in Cosmopolitan ()
  • I always want to be in love, always. It's like being a tuning fork.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "Diary of an Unfaithful Wife," in Cosmopolitan ()
  • ... jealousy is the direct result of self-betrayal.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "Diary of an Unfaithful Wife," in Cosmopolitan ()
  • I did not sleep. I never do when I am over-happy, over-unhappy or in bed with a strange man.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • title story, The Love Object ()
  • She looked like a woman who was being sent to a mental institution, but did not know it.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "Cords," The Love Object ()
  • To Crystal, hair was the most important thing on earth. She would never get married because you couldn't wear curlers in bed then.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "Irish Revel," The Love Object ()
  • ... shadows of love, inebriations of love, foretastes of love, trickles of love, but never yet the one true love.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • Night
    • ()
  • There are times when the thing we are seeing changes before our very eyes, and if it is a landscape we praise nature, and if it is celestial we invoke God, but if it is a loved one who defects, we excuse ourselves and say we have to be somewhere and are already late for our next appointment. We do not stay to put pennies over the half-dead eyes.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • title story, A Scandalous Woman ()
  • I am not kind, I cut people off as with shears and I drop them like nettles.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "Over," A Scandalous Woman ()
  • ... it is not good to repudiate the dead because then they do not leave you alone, they are like dogs that bark intermittently at night.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "Love Child," A Scandalous Woman ()
  • ... fear is a dreadful drawback because it stops us living in the moment.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • in Joseph McCulloch, Under Bow Bells ()
  • ... Irish Catholicism is very much founded on the stone of fear and of punishment.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • in Joseph McCulloch, Under Bow Bells ()
  • ... what makes us so afraid is the thing we half see, or half hear, as in a wood at dusk, when a tree stump becomes an animal and a sound becomes a siren. And most of that fear is the fear of not knowing, of not actually seeing correctly.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • in Joseph McCulloch, Under Bow Bells ()
  • Death in its way comes just as much of a surprise as birth.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "A Rose in the Heart," Mrs. Reinhardt ()
  • In a way winter is the real spring, the time when the inner thing happens, the resurge of nature.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "Clara," Mrs. Reinhardt ()
  • Bitterness had become a habit between them.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "A Woman by the Seaside," Mrs. Reinhardt ()
  • There was always a real reason for everything — why spoons tarnished, and jam furred, and people declined into God, or drink, or card games.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "A Woman by the Seaside," Mrs. Reinhardt ()
  • ... we have so many voices in us, how do we know which ones to obey?

  • In our deepest moments we say the most inadequate things.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "Sister Imelda," Returning ()
  • I know the mistake I am making. I see the exits in life.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "Violets," A Fanatic Heart ()
  • This recollection, or whatever it is, invades me. It is not something that I can summon up, it simply comes and I am the servant of it.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • in The New York Times Book Review ()
  • My hand does the work and I don't have to think; in fact, were I to think, it would stop the flow. It's like a dam in the brain that bursts.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • in The New York Times ()
  • ... writers are always anxious, always on the run — from the telephone, from people, from responsibilities, from the distractions of this world.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • in Shusha Guppy, "Edna O’Brien, The Art of Fiction No. 82," The Paris Review ()
  • ... literature is the last banquet between minds.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • in The New York Times ()
  • Promiscuity is the death of love.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • interview ()
  • For me to write I have to be, a, alone, and b, know that nobody is going to question me. I write the way a thief steals; it's a little covert.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • in International Herald Tribune ()
  • It's not the vote women need, we should be armed.

  • What we forgot as children is that our parents are children, also. The child in them has not been satisfied or met or loved, often.

    • Edna O'Brien
  • I'm an Irish Catholic and I have a long iceberg of guilt.

    • Edna O'Brien
  • When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious. The Irish have got gab but are too touchy to be humorous. Me too.

    • Edna O'Brien
  • Movie people are possessed by demons, but a very low form of demons.

    • Edna O'Brien
  • Writers, however mature and wise and eminent, are children at heart.

    • Edna O'Brien
  • Ideally I'd like to spend two evenings a week talking to Proust and another conversing with the Holy Ghost.

    • Edna O'Brien
  • She was a spasmodic selfless torrent like the fizz from her own cider bottles.

    • Edna O'Brien,
    • "Trespasses," A Gift Horse ()
  • Language lives longer than people and therefore its permanence is vital. It moves us from one generation to the next; it's immortal.

    • Edna O'Brien

Edna O'Brien, Irish writer, playwright, pacifist

(1930)