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Margaret Anderson

  • My greatest enemy is reality. I have fought it successfully for thirty years.

  • Our talk began with luncheon, reached a climax at tea, and by dinner we were staggering with it. By five o'clock in the morning we were unconscious but still talking.

  • I have never been able to accept the two great laws of humanity — that you're always being suppressed if you're inspired and always being pushed into a corner if you're exceptional. I won't be cornered and I won't stay suppressed.

  • I was born to be an editor. I always edit everything. I edit my room at least once a week. Hotels are made for me. I can change a hotel room so thoroughly that even its proprietor doesn't recognize it. ... I can't make things. I can only revise what has been made. And it is this eternal revising that has given me my nervous face.

  • To one of my intense inter-uterine nature there is no measuring the shock that the loss of a house can cause.

  • I disapprove of snobbery in matters of thought as intensely as I approve of it in matters of dress. Good thinking never springs from snobbery — good dressing from little else.

  • The meaning of genius is that it doesn't have to work to attain what people without it must labor for — and not attain.

  • [Intellectuals] have a preference for learning things rather than experiencing them.

  • [On Paris:] ... the city of love, loveliness, liberty and light.

  • Order is life to me. I could, if necessary, live in dirt but never in disorder.

  • I am always disturbed when someone catches me on the wing and asks me if I don't want to do something. I want to answer: 'I never want to do anything, at any time, except to continue what I am already doing until I have finished it.'

  • I have never lived in a room that wasn't a still-life — I couldn't.

  • In real love you want the other person's good. In romantic love you want the other person.

  • Romantic love has always seemed to me unaccountable, unassailable, unforgettable, and nearly always unattainable. ... I have found it only twice, in all its perfection, yet I feel that I have always been engaged in it — as if it were something that must always reappear, like leaves on trees. I suppose I am among those people who have always been, and rarely are, in love.

  • When people told me that I knew nothing of reality I answered that reality was my greatest enemy, that I had fought it — successfully — all my life.

  • Life was never life to me unless my heart stood still.

  • It is difficult to explain to a person of temperament, of too-strong personality, exactly what you object to in her behavior. ... Such people always carry with them that definite personal-authority bang that disrupts the atmosphere already existing in a room. For them everything must pass through, and be colored by, the color of their personality. But one gets so weary of 'personality.'

  • I have always suspected that too much knowledge is a dangerous thing. It is a boon to people who don't have deep feelings; their pleasure comes from what they know about things, and their pride, from showing off what they know.

  • No, no, no, I can't, I cannot see new people: even the thought of it makes me so nervous that I can't work. ... The only thing I can do to preserve the little energy I still have is to keep writing, which pleases and excites and keeps me going.

    • Margaret Anderson,
    • letter to Janet Flanner (c. 1960s), in Shari Benstock, Women of the Left Bank: Paris, 1900-1940 ()
  • I have always fought for ideas — until I learned that it isn't ideas but grief, struggle, and flashes of vision which enlighten.

  • It is rarely you see an American writer who is not hopelessly sane.

    • Margaret Anderson

Margaret Anderson, U.S. publisher, writer

(1886 - 1973)

Full name: Margaret Carolyn Anderson.