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Storm Jameson

  • She rode her mind like a bitted horse.

  • When you talk of revolution ... you never talk of the day after.

  • Truth is the only good and the purest pity. ... Men lie for profit or for pity. All lies turn to poison, but a lie that is told for pity or shame breeds such a host of ills that no power on earth can compass their redemption.

  • ... to grow old is to have taken away, one by one, all gifts of life, the food and wine, the music and the company. ... the gods unloose, one by one, the mortal fingers that cling to the edge of the table.

  • ... the impossible talked of is less impossible from the moment words are laid to it ...

  • Women will always put persons above ideas ... and so they'll always be defeated. Persons die, and ideas rule the world.

  • ... giving the utmost of herself to three absorbing interests [marriage, motherhood, career] ... was a problem for a superwoman, and a job for a superwoman, and only some such fabled being could have accomplished it with success.

  • ... like many quite good medical men he regarded women as mentally deficient and physiologically malformed.

  • She was obstinate ... if she were hard pressed, she would seem to give way at every point and having thus misled the enemy would be found later in quiet possession of all the disputed ground.

  • ... she had an intellect masculine in its range and detachment — a type of intellect possessed by some women in all ages, not, as they are apt to suppose it, the peculiar possession of modern women.

  • ... vitality ... that dangerous divine gift she had in such abundance, the one gift that no art could counterfeit, and the one the gods give least often and with least wish to be kind.

  • He's got tired of her now, has Martin. He said she took so much worshiping she made his knees sore.

  • ... the stomach is near the heart and one appetite pricks on another.

  • ... she had an acute ear, and tiny sounds, the shiver of grass on grass in light airs, the squeaking of bats, cries of birds in a distant field, creaking of dried roots, the trickle of rain down the walls of a house, were caught by it, and offered to memory.

  • You can't argue with a raging want. You can, but it is useless.

  • There is a stage in any misery when the victim begins to find a deep satisfaction in it.

  • Perhaps this is in the end what most marriages are — gentleness, memory, and habit.

  • ... we do not remember people as they were. What we remember is the effect they had on us then, but we remember it through an emotion charged with all that has since happened to us.

  • The real story of a man's life would consist in a relation of the experiences, few or many, in which his whole self was engaged. The greater part of such a book would be very dull, since as often as not our whole self turns its back contemptuously on the so-called great moments and emotions and engages itself in the most trivial of things, the shape of a particular hill, a road in the town in which we lived as children, the movement of wind in grass. The things we shall take with us when we die will nearly all be small things.

  • Lord, if there is a heartache Vienna cannot cure I hope never to feel it. I came home cured of everything except Vienna.

  • 'I knew you wouldn't mind' is the formula with which my friends begin the confession that they have made use of me in some indefensible way, or written a brutal criticism of my new novel.

  • The young are so much more vulnerable than the old — the stuff is still warm and malleable, it takes impressions.

  • The older I grow the more sharply I mistrust words. So few of them have any meaning left. It is impossible to write one sentence in which every word has the bareness and hardness of bones, the reality of the skeleton.

  • I am persuaded that not a novel in ten thousand is of any use to a child to fit him for life. The most are of use only to unfit him — to blunt his senses and infect him with the writers' poor silly sentiments. Nine out of ten novelists deserve to be prosecuted under an Adulterated Emotions Act.

  • I do not think about absent persons as often or with such intense longing as I think of places. They lie one below the other in my mind ...

  • In what touches their social convictions, most persons do not think. The threat of change, with all it suggests to them in the loss of social and economic privilege, alarms so deeply that they are incapable of unprejudiced thought. They seem to themselves to be thinking, with lucidity and fairness, but since they start from the conviction that change must undoubtedly be for the worse or from settled grief at the thought of losing what is old and lovely, they are doing no more than following a logical sequence of ideas from a false premise.

  • What I do not know and cannot even hope to understand before I die is why human beings are willfully, coldly, matter-of-factly cruel to each other ... What nerve has atrophied in the torturer, or worse is sensually moved?

  • Speaking the truth, once you have started it, is too exhilarating to draw back.

  • War, for any cause, is inexcusable. There is nothing which excuses us for the beastly ingenuity of our wars. Only fools, only the diseased, think that we are served by killing the strong young men with machines.

  • Nothing lasts. Not even a great sorrow.

  • My mind is not suited to go much into company.

  • ... her generosity was more nerves than heart.

  • Great advertising is the expression of deep emotional sincerity.

  • ... all writers who can claim to be called 'living' must be political in a sense. They must have what the Quakers call a concern to understand what is happening in the world, and must engage themselves, in their writing, to promote no comfortable lies, of the sort which people will pay well to be told rather than the truth ...

    • Storm Jameson,
    • in Vera Brittain, Testament of Friendship ()
  • It's an illusion to think that more comfort means more happiness. Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed.

  • In my firm, we dealt in lies. Advertising is that ... the skilful use of the truth to mislead, to spoil, to debase.

  • A joke is a joke or the image of a truth ...

  • Writers sometimes talk as though they were the only friends of civilization. This is their conceit. But they have special powers to serve — or to corrupt — civilization, and are obliged to use them.

  • A nation has honor precisely as it has fleas — on this or that body. The statesman who talks of honor — unless he means something else, quite different — is a rogue ...

  • The past is able to close round certain moments, as if they were seeds, and deliver them again fresh and living in the present.

  • Her poverty was a hard ulcer in her, and it took all her strength.

  • The strangest thing about life is not its frightful cruelty, but that it can be gentle.

  • Fear is the deep motive of abstract art — fear of a repellent civilization which is dominated by the power of things. ... who can be surprised if, more sensitive than the others, the artist is terrified by the power things have acquired over us?

  • There is as much vanity in self-scourgings as in self-justification.

  • ... each time that I have run away — and from a habit it quickly became an illness — I have betrayed someone. Myself, but not always only myself.

  • The gesture with which one generation guards the next is the movement, and the only time we see it clearly, of life itself.

  • Why did no one, not one person, turn me round at that time and order me to look at myself? But no one has the right to be saved from outside, by another hand.

  • An animal is not cruel; it lives wholly in the instant leap on its prey, in the present taste of marrow or blood. Cruelty begins with the memory, and the pleasures of the memory are impure; they draw their strength along levels where no sun has reached.

  • ... jealousy, the most hideous emotion any human being ever suffers, has nothing to do with the mind. Or not at first.

  • Could anything be absurder than a man? The animal who knows everything about himself — except why he was born and the meaning of his unique life?

  • In Europe, war is a disease which has been in the family for generations: no one is surprised when it makes another leap. Even the patient only attends to it with part of his mind.

  • ... invaders always destroy libraries.

  • The least stupid question a man asks in his lifetime is not: Is there a God and is He a god or a devil? But: Brother, why are you killing me?

  • ... she had a passion for hats, none of which returned her affection ...

  • ... the Crown [Hotel] did not so much cook as assassinate food.

  • A politician is forced to make a habit of noble phrases and optimistic lies. In the end they infect himself.

  • No one asks public men to be strictly moral, but they must seem to be well-behaved.

  • The writer — more especially the novelist — who has not, at one moment or another, considered his publisher unworthy of him, has still to be conceived.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 1 ()
  • Any marriage worth the name is no better than a series of beginnings — many of them abortive.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 1 ()
  • I am never happier than when I am alone in a foreign city; it is as if I had become invisible.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 1 ()
  • ... she disappeared silently — like a cat slipping out of the larder.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 1 ()
  • If you think with enough energy about a hoped-for event, it will in the end happen. Not because you willed it. Because it was all the time in your nature.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 1 ()
  • Nationalism will keep its venom until we succeed in creating an image of the nations of the whole world as so many provinces.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 2 ()
  • Hope is a talent like any other.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 2 ()
  • Surprise will be my last emotion, not fear.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 2 ()
  • The hunger of the spirit for eternity — as fierce as a starving man's for bread — is much less a craving to go on living than a craving for redemption. Oh, and a protest against absurdity.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 2 ()
  • For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful. And more truly for what I have not received ...

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 2 ()
  • Writing was a chimney for my blazing ambitions.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 2 ()
  • A minor symptom of wars is the cancerous growth of committees.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 2 ()
  • ... the whole of society in Washington is to some degree political. It is like no other capital city known to me, in that political thinking, the whole business, technical and personal, of politics, is not diluted by an equal interest in art, industry, amusement, anything you like. I don't meant that these are non-existent in Washington — only that they are subdued to the ruling passion.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 2 ()
  • ... the truth is exactly that which can't be got into words. We are forced to lie, a little or, if we are inferior, much.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 2 ()
  • ... I used words without precautions. I wanted to disappear into them, I fled into the bovaryism of the writer trying to create an effect.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 2 ()
  • Failures to love are irremediable and irredeemable.

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 2 ()
  • One of the uncovenanted benefits of living for a long time is that, having so many more dead than living friends, death can appear as a step backwards into the joyous past ...

    • Storm Jameson,
    • Journey From the North, vol. 2 ()
  • Language is memory and metaphor ...

  • ... the sex even in serious pornography has less singularity than the mating of squirrels.

  • All pornography is to a degree sadistic — inevitably.

  • Pornography is essentially reductive, an exercise in the nothing-but mode, a depersonalizing of the human beings involved, a showing-up of human lust as nothing but an affair of the genitals.

  • From so much of this seriously-intended pornography there rises, even when it is lewdly or boisterously comic, the acrid smell, unmistakable, of self-dislike.

  • Inevitably, the flood of literary pornography loosed on us is dulling our reactions of surprise or shock. Its writers are forced to raise the ante, to provide stronger and stronger stimulants. Or try to provide them, since both the manner, the naming of parts and the few inexpressive four-letter words, and the matter, are narrowly limited.

  • To reject censorship after studying the risks involved is very well. To reject it ex cathedra, in the tones of Calvin pronouncing a dogma, eyes and mind closed to the possible consequences, the even marginally possible, is to make things too comfortable for oneself.

  • Is it really beyond our wits to devise some form of censorship which would trap only the crudely sadistic?

  • ... a writer's first duty is to be clear. Clarity is an excellent virtue. Like all virtues it can be pursued at ruinous cost. Paid, so far as I am concerned, joyfully.

  • Novelists who treat violence and cruelty as something to be exploited for their effect, or to enjoy the pleasure of an evacuation, are carriers of a singularly unpleasant disease.

  • Very rare, the intelligence of the heart. The intelligence of the whimsical brain is less rare, less attaching, sometimes tedious.

  • No form of art repeats or imitates successfully all that can be said by another; the writer conveys his experience of life along a channel of communication closed to painter, mathematician, musician, film-maker.

  • In France, even heresy rapidly hardens into dogma.

  • If the novel is dying, I see no chance that dismembering it will revive it.

  • Sadistic literature is not only inhumane. It is anti-human.

  • Not literature alone, but society itself is wormed and rotten when language ceases to be respected not merely by advertisers and politicians, but by persons of learning and authority.

  • Language is one of the thin walls humanity has built up over centuries against its own bestial and destructive impulses ...

  • Critics have been amusing themselves for a long time by auscultating fiction for signs of heart failure.

  • The critic's hankering to be law-giver rather than servant of literature is irrepressible.

  • An intelligent man or woman willing to make a career of reviewing fiction is hard to come by ... And the temporaries do the work cheaply. Moreover, continuity may be got at the expense of intellectual arthritis; a reviewer who has been at his grisly task for half a lifetime may stiffen into prejudices of every sort, and become too anchylosed to do better than turn his back to a new wave when it rushes down on him.

  • We need the slower and more lasting stimulus of solitary reading as a relief from the pressure on eye, ear and nerves of the torrent of information and entertainment pouring from ever-open electronic jaws. It could end by stupefying us.

  • I believe that only one person in a thousand knows the trick of really living in the present.Most of us spend 59 minutes an hour living in the past, with regret for lost joys or shame for things badly done (both utterly useless and weakening) or in a future which we either long for or dread. ... There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute, here and now. The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable minute. Which is exactly what it is — a miracle and unrepeatable.

    • Storm Jameson

Storm Jameson, English writer, editor

(1891 - 1986)

Full name: Margaret Storm Jameson Chapman. Also wrote under “James Hill” and “William Lamb.” She wrote 45 novels as well as some criticism.