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Laura Riding Jackson

  • The problem of good and evil is not the problem of good and evil, but only the problem of evil. In opposition to good there are evil characters, but there are no good characters in opposition to evil. Evil is arguable, but good is not. Therefore the Devil always wins the argument.

  • ... whatever is not happening now is unimportant; it is merely curious.

    • Laura Riding Jackson,
    • preface, Progress of Stories ()
  • My function as a writer is not story-telling but truth-telling: to make things plain.

    • Laura Riding Jackson,
    • preface, Progress of Stories ()
  • Emile Saint-Blague had been a lively, versatile painter in his youth, but he had abused his energy by painting too many pictures; so that in what might have been the ripe period of his art he had nothing left but ideas. A man who has nothing left but ideas may be of great service to his friends, but he is of no use at all to himself. Emile was certainly an inspiration to his friends.

    • Laura Riding Jackson,
    • "The Incurable Virtue," Progress of Stories ()
  • Ideas are the old-age of art. Artists have to keep young; they must not think too much — thought is death, while art is life. Such was Emile's viewpoint.

    • Laura Riding Jackson,
    • "The Incurable Virtue," Progress of Stories ()
  • Until the missing story of ourselves is told, nothing besides told can suffice us: we shall go on quietly craving it.

  • We wait, all, for a story of us that shall reach to where we are. We listen for our own speaking; and we hear much that seems our speaking, yet makes us strange to ourselves.

  • To tell one comprehensive story of how it has happened that what is is, one which shall hold true, come what may, now-after — a story that whatever comes shall perfectly continue or confirm: such is the ideal motive of religions.

  • A religion addresses the longing in us to have that said from which we can go on to speak of next and next things rightly, in their immediate time — the telling of what came first and before done forever.

  • How our story has been divided up among the truth-telling professions! Religion, philosophy, history, poetry, compete with each other for our ears; and science competes with all together. And for each we have a different set of ears. But, though we hear much, what we are told is as nothing: none of it gives us ourselves, rather each story-kind steals us to make its reality of us.

  • Poetry is a sleep-maker for that which sits up late in us listening for the footfall of the future on to-day's doorstep.

  • The sciences that purport to treat of human things — the new scientific storyings of the social, the political, the racial or ethnic, and the psychic, nature of human beings — treat not of human things but mere things, things that make up the physical, or circumstantial, content of human life but are not of the stuff of humanity, have not the human essence in them.

  • ... we shall know that we have begun to speak true by an increased hunger for true-speaking; we shall have the whole hunger only after we have given ourselves the first taste of it.

  • Truth rings no bells.

  • In religion is much tiredness of people, a giving over of their doing to Someone Else.

  • If what you write is true, it will not be so because of what you are as a writer but because of what you are as a being. There can be no literary equivalent to truth.

  • Evil I had never found satisfactorily placeable as an integral element of the universal, or total, content of existence. Indeed, evil is evil just because there is no logical place for it, no room in reality for it. It is unreal, and yet real as something unreal.

  • The rôle of myth in contemporary ideology is that of a substitute for lived spiritual experience.

  • Myth is a tale once believed as truth; believed, it is not myth, but religion. A tale once religiously believed that has come to be called a myth is something of religion corrupted with disbelief. What are beliefs for some societies but myths for others cannot fill spiritual vacancies in the life of those others.

  • ... rummaging in the storehouses of religious or literary history for myth-matter for ideational uses is of the nature of spiritual vulgarity.

  • I met God. 'What,' he said, 'you already?' 'What,' I said, 'you still?'

    • Laura Riding Jackson,
    • in Michèle Brown and Ann O'Connor, Hammer and Tongues ()
  • A child should be allowed to take as long as she needs for knowing everything about herself, which is the same as learning to be herself. Even twenty-five years if necessary, or even forever. And it wouldn't matter if doing things got delayed, because nothing is really important but being oneself.

  • ... learning can be a bridge between doing and thinking. But then there is a danger that the person who uses learning as a bridge between doing and thinking may get stuck in learning and never get on to thinking ...

  • ... people get wisdom from thinking, not from learning ...

  • Nature is what you don't have to trouble about. It looks after itself.

  • Women are strangers in the country of man ...

    • Laura Riding Jackson,
    • title essay (1935), The Word "Woman" ()
  • Woman has two works to perform: a work of differentiation, of man from herself, and a work of unification, of man with herself. ... We, woman, are now entering upon our second work.

    • Laura Riding Jackson,
    • title essay (1935), The Word "Woman" ()
  • Women, ever since there have been women, have had a way of being people.

    • Laura Riding Jackson,
    • "Women As People" (1934),The Word "Woman" ()
  • Spiritually, the society we have is the society of men with women present only in adjunctive relation to them, not the society of men and women in reciprocal relation. We do not have the society of human beings.

    • Laura Riding Jackson,
    • "The Sex Factor in Social Progress" (1963), The Word "Woman" ()

Laura Riding Jackson, English writer

(1901 - 1991)

Full name: Laura Reichenthal Riding Jackson.