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Erica Jong

  • ... I am sure / that when we love / we are better than ourselves / & when we hate, / worse.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "The Evidence," Half-Lives ()
  • I am not sure at all / if love is salve / or just / a deeper kind of wound. / I do not think it matters.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "The Evidence," Half-Lives ()
  • Beware of the man who denounces ambition; / his fingers itch under his gloves.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Seventeen Warnings in Search of a Feminist Poem," Half-Lives ()
  • Beware of the man who denounces war / through clenched teeth.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Seventeen Warnings in Search of a Feminist Poem," Half-Lives ()
  • Beware of the man who denounces women writers; / his penis is tiny & cannot spell.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Seventeen Warnings in Search of a Feminist Poem," Half-Lives ()
  • Beware of the man who wants to protect you; / he will protect you from everything but himself.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Seventeen Warnings in Search of a Feminist Poem," Half-Lives ()
  • Beware of the man who denounces psychiatrists; / he is afraid.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Seventeen Warnings in Search of a Feminist Poem," Half-Lives ()
  • Beware of the man who writes flowery love letters; / he is preparing for years of silence.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Seventeen Warnings in Search of a Feminist Poem," Half-Lives ()
  • Beware of the man who praises liberated women; he is planning to quit his job.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Seventeen Warnings in Search of a Feminist Poem," Half-Lives ()
  • I would have said nonsense / to please you / & frequently did.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Mother," Half-Lives ()
  • Each month/ the blood sheets down / like good red rain. / I am the gardener. / Nothing grows without me.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Gardener," Half-Lives ()
  • Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "The Artist As Housewife, The Housewife As Artist," in Ms. ()
  • Q: Why does a Jew always answer a question with a question? A: And why should a Jew not answer a question with a question?

  • There is simply no dignified way for a woman to live alone. Oh, she can get along financially perhaps (though not nearly as well as a man), but emotionally she is never left in peace. Her friends, her family, her fellow workers never let her forget that her husbandlessness, her childlessness — her selfishness, in short — is a reproach to the American way of life.

  • Coupling doesn't always have to do with sex ... Two people holding each other up like flying buttresses. Two people depending on each other and babying each other and defending each other against the world outside. Sometimes it was worth all the disadvantages of marriage just to have that: one friend in an indifferent world.

  • Growing up female in America. What a liability! You grew up with your ears full of cosmetic ads, love songs, advice columns, whoreoscopes, Hollywood gossip, and moral dilemmas on the level of TV soap operas. What litanies the advertisers of the good life chanted at you! What curious catechisms!

  • The vote, I thought, means nothing to women. We should be armed.

  • Solitude is un-American.

  • The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game. The man is not 'taking' and the woman is not 'giving.' No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn.

  • It was the old psychosomatic side-step. Everyone in my family dances it at every opportunity. You've given me a splitting headache! You've given me indigestion! You've given me crotch rot! You've given me auditory hallucinations! You've given me a heart attack! You've given me cancer!

  • Gossip is the opiate of the oppressed.

  • Men have always detested women's gossip because they suspect the truth: their measurements are being taken and compared.

  • Silence is the bluntest of blunt instruments. It seems to hammer you into the ground. It drives you deeper and deeper into your own guilt. It makes the voices inside your head accuse you more viciously than any outside voices ever could.

  • Show me a woman who doesn't feel guilty and I'll show you a man.

  • At times it is strangely sedative to know the extent of your own powerlessness.

  • It is for this, partly, that I write. How can I know what I think unless I see what I write?

  • Ambivalence is a wonderful tune to dance to. It has a rhythm all its own.

  • There are no atheists on turbulent airplanes.

  • Your morals are like roads through the Alps. They make these hairpin turns all the time.

  • Men and women, women and men. It will never work ...

  • Surviving meant being born over and over.

  • Writing is one of the few professions left where you take all the responsibility for what you do. It's really dangerous and ultimately destroys you as a writer if you start thinking about responses to your work or what your audience needs.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in William Packard, ed., The Craft of Poetry ()
  • I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged. ... I had poems which were rewritten so many times that I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in William Packard, ed., The Craft of Poetry ()
  • When I was a ten-year-old book worm and used to kiss the dust jacket pictures of authors as if they were icons, it used to amaze me that these remote people could provoke me to love.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in William Packard, ed., The Craft of Poetry ()
  • It is a sad paradox that when male authors impersonate women ... they are said to be dealing with 'cosmic, major concerns' — but when we impersonate ourselves we are said to be writing 'women's fiction' or 'women's poetry.'

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Ms. ()
  • Birth is the start / of loneliness / & loneliness the start / of poetry: / that seems a crude / reduction of it all, / but truth / is often crude.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Dear Marys, Dear Mother, Dear Daughter," Loveroot ()
  • Since flesh can't stay, / we pass the words along.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Dear Keats," Loveroot ()
  • Spring, / you are a pinking shears: you cut / fresh edges on the world.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Spring x 2," Loveroot ()
  • Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.

  • The trick is not how much pain you feel — but how much joy you feel. Any idiot can feel pain. Life is full of excuses to feel pain, excuses not to live, excuses, excuses, excuses.

  • In a bad marriage, friends are the invisible glue. If we have enough friends, we may go on for years, intending to leave, talking about leaving — instead of actually getting up and leaving.

  • Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it.

  • My mother wanted me to be her wings, to fly as she never quite had the courage to do. I love her for that. I love that she wanted to give birth to her own wings.

  • Friends love misery, in fact. Sometimes, especially if we are too lucky or too successful or too pretty, our misery is the only thing that endears us to our friends.

  • There is rhythm to the ending of marriage just like the rhythm of courtship — only backward. You try to start again but get into blaming over and over. Finally, you are both worn out, exhausted, hopeless. Then lawyers are called in to pick clean the corpses. The death occurred much earlier.

  • Jealousy is all the fun you think they had ...

  • In any triangle, who is the betrayer, who the unseen rival, and who the humiliated lover? Oneself, oneself, and no one but oneself!

  • Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.

  • A poem (surely someone has said this before) is a one-night stand, a short story a love affair, and a novel a marriage.

  • Mediocre prose might be read as an escape, might be spoken on television by actors, or mouthed in movies. But mediocre poetry did not exist at all. If poetry wasn't good, it wasn't poetry. It was that simple.

  • ... each of us only feels the torn lining of his own coat and sees the wholeness of the other person's.

  • There is no loneliness like the loneliness of a dead marriage.

  • To name oneself is the first act of both the poet and the revolutionary. When we take away the right to an individual name, we symbolically take away the right to be an individual.

  • Where is Hollywood located? Chiefly between the ears. In that part of the American brain lately vacated by God.

  • The aim of my writing is to utterly remove the distance between author and reader so that the book becomes a sort of semipermeable membrane through which feelings, ideas, nutrients pass ...

  • ... language can't be appropriated by one person, one poet. The words belong to all of us.

  • Britt ate lots of chocolate but never got fat — a sure sign of demonic possession ...

  • Of all human activities, none is so useless and potentially destructive as trying to predict the future. The future is merely a shadow which blocks out the joys of the present and emphasizes the miseries of the past.

  • And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.

  • Women are the only exploited group in history to have been idealized into powerlessness.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Time ()
  • The only difference between men and women is that women are able to create new little human beings in their bodies while simultaneously writing books, driving tractors, working in offices, planting crops — in general, doing everything men do.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Redbook ()
  • You see an awful lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in New Woman ()
  • ... may all dogs that I have ever loved / carry my coffin, / howl at the moonless sky, / & lie down with me sleeping / when I die.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Best Friends," At the Edge of the Body ()
  • People who live by the sea / understand eternity.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "People Who Live," At the Edge of the Body ()
  • We write poems / as leaves give oxygen — / so we can breathe.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "On Picking Up My Pen Again," At the Edge of the Body ()
  • ... beware the Lure of a handsome Face, the all too ready Assumption that the lovely Façade must needs have lovely Chambers within; for as 'tis with Great Houses, so, too, with Great Men.

  • ... 'tis true that tho' People can transcend their Characters in Times of Tranquillity, they can ne'er do so in Times of Tumult.

  • A Soul is partly given, partly wrought; remember always that you are the Maker of your own Soul.

  • ... the Lives of Great Men are more oft' at variance with their profess'd Phillosophies than consistent with 'em ...

  • Courage is the only Magick worth having.

  • The Passion that one Soul hath for God cannot be judged by another.

  • What makes a Man love Death, Fanny? Is it because he hopes to avert his own by watchin' the Deaths of others? Doth he hope to devour Death by devourin' Executions with his Eyes? I'll ne'er understand it, if I live to be eight hundred Years. The Human Beast is more Beast than Human, 'tis true ...

  • Don't ye know that ev'ry Soul on Earth feels itself to be an Orphan?

  • ... Gratitude is, for some Mortals, the most unwelcome of Emotions ...

  • ... Souls have neither Sex nor Colour.

  • ... of all the foolish Fears of Humankind, Fear of the Future is by far the most foolish.

  • ... she'd a pow'rful Belief in God, whom she believ'd had a more sympathetick Ear to Black Voices than to White ones, owing to the greater Suff'rings of their Possessors.

  • Satyre ... is a sort of Glass wherein Beholders do gen'rally discover ev'rybody's Face but their own.

  • Faith is the Knowledge of the Heart, Logick the Knowledge of the Mind.

  • Like many Men who make a Virtue of a Vice, he put much Faith in Form and Conduct (as if indeed Vice well-perform'd were Virtue's very Self, whilst Virtue ill-perform'd were but the Essence of Vice).

  • Mark this well, I told myself, when you come to write the History of your own Life; ne'er forget that 'tis not Fidelity to Fact alone that makes a Story stir the Blood, but Craft and Art! And 'tis perhaps the greatest Craft to seem to have no Craft.

  • Is there no Villain in this World who doth not regard himself as a poor abus'd Innocent, no She-Wolf who doth not think herself a Lamb, no Shark who doth not fancy that she is a Goldfish?

  • O what is it about having one's own Babe upon one's Hip that makes a Woman wish to go home to her Mother? A Desire to say: 'Look, the Circle is compleat'? A Desire to say: 'Look, I have cross'd the Divide and now am more like you'? A Desire to say: 'Look, this Babe I offer you is my most precious Gift'?

  • ... we all carry the Houses of our Youth inside, and our Parents, too, grown small enough to fit within our Hearts.

  • ... is there not an Arabick Proverb which goes, 'No one throws Stones at a Barren Tree'?

  • ... I do believe that in every age there are people whose consciousness transcends their own time and that these people, whether fictional or historical, are those with whom we most closely identify and those about whom we most enjoy reading.

  • I have not ceased being fearful, but I have ceased to let fear control me. I have accepted fear as a part of life, specifically the fear of change, the fear of the unknown, and I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back, turn back, you'll die if you venture too far.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • Conflict is the soul of literature.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • No one ever found wisdom without also being a fool. Writers, alas, have to be fools in public, while the rest of the human race can cover its tracks.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • [Feminist:] A woman who assumes self-dependence as a basic condition of her life.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Barbara Ehrenreich, "The Women's Movements, Feminist and Anti-Feminist," Radical America ()
  • The truth is simple: / you do not die / from love. / You only wish / you did.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "There Is Only One Story," Ordinary Miracles ()
  • Being a daughter is only half the equation; bearing one is the other.

  • Sophia became a celebrity (someone who ... is famous for being famous).

  • Sex is God's joke on the human race ... if we didn't have sex to make us ridiculous, She would have had to think up something else instead.

  • ... perfectionism is the enemy of art. Since art is essentially divine play, not dogged work, it often happens that as one becomes more professionally driven one also becomes less capriciously playful.

  • ... writers do not choose their subjects; their subjects choose them.

  • What a damnably lonely profession writing is! In order to do it, one must banish the world, and having banished it, one feels cosmically alone.

  • ... she was a different person then — before pregnancy doubled her, birth halved her, and motherhood turned her into Everywoman.

  • Is there a phrase in the English language more fraught with menace than a tax audit?

  • ... the artist's relation to money is always queer because the production of art is not for money; one would do it even if one got paid nothing at all.

  • It is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Venice: A City of Love and Death," The New York Times Magazine ()
  • Each artist or writer who works in Venice comes to believe that the city yields its most special secret to him or her alone.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Venice: A City of Love and Death," The New York Times Magazine ()
  • ... Venice is ever the fragile labyrinth at the edge of the sea and it reminds us how brief and perilous the journeys of our lives are; perhaps that is why we love it so. City of plagues and brief liaisons, city of lingering deaths and incendiary loves, city of chimeras, nightmares, pigeons, bells. You are the only city in the world whose dialect has a word for the shimmer of canal water reflected on the ceiling of a room.

  • It is not surprising that Venice is known above all for mirrors and glass since Venice is the most narcissistic city in the world, the city that celebrates self-mirroring.

  • ... what storyteller is adequate to her story? The story carries us along, bottles on the tide, each with our secret mesage and the fervent hope that it does not turn out to be blank.

  • Perhaps it is because Venice is both liquid and solid, both air and stone, that it somehow combines all the elements crucial to make our imaginations ignite and turn fantasies into realities.

  • Art keeps one young, I think, because it keeps one perpetually a beginner, perpetually a child.

  • People in the land of LaLa look like expensive wax fruit. And they work hard to achieve that look.

  • Never joke with the press. Irony does not translate into newsprint.

  • Venice, that capital city of dream and intrigue, that double city (one above and seemingly solid, one below, wavering and reflected in the waters), which never disappoints ...

  • It is the artists who make the true value of the world, though at times they may have to starve to do it. They are like earthworms, turning up the soil so things can grow, eating dirt so that the rest of us may eat green shoots.

  • ... what was time but a convention, a habit of mind, a custom of dress?

  • ... certain very old people reach an age where every funeral becomes some sort of insane confirmation of strength, rather than of vulnerability, as it is when we are in our thirties or forties and our friends die.

  • We were not human beings going through spiritual experiences; we were spiritual beings going through human experiences, in order to grow.

  • ... it takes courage to lead a life. Any life.

  • You're not too fat; you're just in the wrong country.

  • From Roman times to the present, Italy has been a country to fall in love with — a tribute to all that is enduring, crazy, pagan, joyous, melancholy, at once banal and divine, in the human spirit.

  • My little cookies, my big-small girls, my little chips of DNA whirling forward through the universe. My double darlings, my double dollop of chocolate chip ice cream, my little puppybody, my bubblegum reebok babies with the double dirty smile.

  • ... poetry comforts as nothing else can ... we are still a race for whom magic is a word.

    • Erica Jong,
    • preface, Becoming Light ()
  • ... change / is the world's only fixity, and fixity / her foremost lie.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "To a Transatlantic Mirror," Becoming Light ()
  • Eating is never so simple as hunger.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "The Catch," Becoming Light ()
  • Women really must have equal pay for equal work, equality in work at home, and reproductive choices. Men must press for these things also. They must cease to see them as 'women's issues' and learn that they are everybody's issues — essential to survival on planet Earth.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in New Woman ()
  • [Henry Miller] was such a scribomaniac that even when he lived in the same house as Lawrence Durrell they often exchanged letters. For most of his life, Henry wrote literally dozens of letters a day to people he could have easily engaged in conversation — and did. The writing process, in short, was essential. As it is to all real writers, writing was life and breath to him. He put out words as a tree puts out leaves.

  • As yet we use our media only for selling things — including, of course, political candidates. What will happen when someone masters the art of selling souls?

  • Art is always an energy exchange.

  • ... it is not unusual to hate great writers before we learn to love them. Because they have created something that did not yet exist, they must also create their audience. Sometimes the audience is not yet ready. Sometimes it has yet to be born.

  • I believe I belong to the last literary generation, the last generation, that is, for whom books are a religion.

  • A dreary censorship, and self-censorship, has been imposed on books by the centralization of the book industry.

  • ... biography is essentially a collaborative art, the latest biographer collaborating with all those who wrote earlier.

  • ... the only people worth writing about are those about whom the last word cannot be said.

  • I've always known that fear is a sign — usually a sign that I'm doing something right.

  • Memory is the crux of our humanity. Without memory we have no identities. That is really why I am committing an autobiography.

  • All authors know that any book is a casting of runes, a reading of cards, a map of the palm and heart. We make up the ocean — then fall in. But we also write the life raft.

  • The soul is awakened through service.

  • Divorce is my generation's coming of age ceremony — a ritual scarring that makes anything that happens afterward seem bearable.

  • Turning fifty ... is like flying: hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.

  • ... we are the Whiplash Generation ... raised to be Doris Day, traversing our twenties yearning to be Gloria Steinem, then doomed to raise our midlife daughters in the age of Nancy Reagan and Princess Di.

  • As women got little crumbs of power, men began to act paranoid — as if we'd disabled them utterly. Do all women have to keep silent for men to speak? Do all women have to be legless for men to walk?

  • Perhaps every generation thinks of itself as a lost generation and perhaps every generation is right.

  • At fifty, the madwoman in the attic breaks loose, stomps down the stairs, and sets fire to the house. She won't be imprisoned anymore.

  • Writing has often been accompanied by terror, silences, and then wild bursts of private laughter that suddenly make all the dread seem worthwhile.

  • In a world not made for women, criticism and ridicule follow us all the days of our lives. Usually they are indications that we are doing something right.

  • I am old enough to know that laughter, not anger, is the true revelation.

  • A baby is a full-time job for three adults. Nobody tells you that when you're pregnant or you'd probably jump off a bridge.

  • Court, in our society, is often the last resort of stubbornness.

  • Memory is the most transient of all possessions. And when it goes, it leaves as few traces as stars that have disappeared.

  • The older we get, the more Jewish we become in my family.

  • Poetry is the inner life of a culture, its nervous system, its deepest way of imagining the world. A culture that ignores its poets, chokes off its nervous system and becomes mortally ill.

  • Writers are doubters, compulsives, self-flagellants. The torture only stops for brief moments.

  • It's easier to write about pain than about joy. Joy is wordless.

  • You don't get to choose what you get famous for and you don't get to control which of your life's many struggles gets to stand for you.

  • The body is wiser than its inhabitants. The body is the soul. We ignore its aches, its pains, its eruptions, because we fear the truth. The body is God's messenger.

  • If we are all made of God, it is our friends who remind us. We pass the gift of God to them. They pass it back to us when we need it most.

  • If, every day, I dare to remember that I am here on loan, that this house, this hillside, these minutes are all leased to me, not given, I will never despair. Despair is for those who expect to live forever. I no longer do.

  • You reach a point in life where you realize that you might as well do what you need to do, because your being loved or not being loved is really a function of the people you encounter and not of yourself. That is an immensely liberating insight.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Beth Benatovich, ed., What We Know So Far ()
  • ... in freeing myself from the romantic dream of finding another man to come along and rescue me, I learned that no one can rescue me except myself.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Beth Benatovich, ed., What We Know So Far ()
  • ... fame is merely the fact of being misunderstood by millions of people.

  • Before things are written down they don't exist in quite the same way. The act of fixing them in words gives them a kind of currency that can be traded.

    • Erica Jong,
    • preface, What Do Women Want? ()
  • I started with poetry because it was direct, immediate, and short. It was the ecstasy of striking matches in the dark.

    • Erica Jong,
    • preface, What Do Women Want? ()
  • The desire for magic cannot be eradicated. Even the most supposedly rational people attempt to practice magic in love and war. We simultaneously possess the most primitive of brain stems and the most sophisticated of cortices. The imperatives of each coexist uneasily.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Why I Want to Be a Witch," What Do Women Want? ()
  • ... the unconscious of an artist is her greatest treasure. It is what transmutes the dross of autobiography into the gold of myth.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Jane Eyre's Unbroken Will." What Do Women Want? ()
  • Men must be stripped of arrogance and women must become independent for any mutually nurturing alliance to endure between the sexes.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Jane Eyre's Unbroken Will," What Do Women Want? ()
  • If there's anything the world disdains more than uppity young women, it's uppity old women. Dying young has always been a woman's best career move.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Princess As Icon," What Do Women Want? ()
  • One writes not by will but by surrender.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Face-off at the Millennium," What Do Women Want? ()
  • ... art is not advocacy and advocacy is not art.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Lolita Turns Thirty," What Do Women Want? ()
  • If we ban whatever offends any group in our diverse society, we will soon have no art, no culture, no humor, no satire. Satire is by its nature offensive. So is much art and political discourse. The value of these expressions far outweighs their risk.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Deliberate Lewdness and the Creative Imagination: Should We Censor Pornography?" What Do Women Want ()
  • A concern with 'public morality' is — if not the last refuge of a scoundrel — the first foray of the fascist.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Deliberate Lewdness and the Creative Imagination: Should We Censor Pornography?" What Do Women Want? ()
  • ... I am against censorship. I prefer the chaos of uncontrollable communication of all sorts to selective banning of certain materials. I do not think human beings can be trusted to be above politics and to promote the common good. One group's common good is another group's evil.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Deliberate Lewdness and the Creative Imagination: Should We Censor Pornography?" What Do Women Want? ()
  • Whenever I go anywhere but Italy for a vacation, I always feel vaguely disappointed, as if I have made a mistake.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "My Italy," What Do Women Want? ()
  • Despite all the cynical things writers have said about writing for money, the truth is we write for love. That is why it is so easy to exploit us.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "My Italy," What Do Women Want? ()
  • What I require of a book is that it kidnap me into its world. Its world must make the so-called real world seem flimsy. Its world must trigger the nostalgia to return. When I close the book, I should feel bereft.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Writing for Love," What Do Women Want? ()
  • ... we write as if our lives depended upon it. They do.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Gestations," What Do Women Want? ()
  • ... we need poetry most at those moments when life astounds us with losses, gains, or celebrations. We need it most when we are most hurt, most happy, most downcast, most jubilant. Poetry is the language we speak in times of greatest need. And the fact that it is an endangered species in our culture tells us that we are in deep trouble.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Yeats's Glade and Basho's Bee: The Impossibility of Doing Without Poetry," What Do Women Want? ()
  • Flesh is merely a lesson. We learn it & pass on.

    • Erica Jong,
    • What Do Women Want? ()
  • Writers tend to be addicted to houses ... We work at home, indulging the agoraphobia endemic to our kind. We are immersed in our surroundings to an almost morbid degree.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Books and Houses," What Do Women Want? ()
  • Home is where your books are.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Coming Home to Connecticut," What Do Women Want? ()
  • But we should ask the question: Why should a writer be more than a writer? Why should a writer be a guru? Why are we supposed to be psychiatrists? Isn't it enough to write and tell the truth? It's not like telling the truth is common. Writers are the earthworms of society. We aerate the soil. That's enough.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Authors Guild Bulletin ()
  • My reaction to porno films is as follows: After the first ten minutes, I want to go home and screw. After the first twenty minutes, I never want to screw again as long as I live.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Charlotte Templin, Conversations With Erica Jong ()
  • Images are ... a kind of emotional shorthand.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Charlotte Templin, Conversations With Erica Jong ()
  • The most important education you get is on your own. ... You learn in solitude from reading other writers. And from writing and writing and writing.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in Charlotte Templin, Conversations With Erica Jong ()
  • Poems, like dreams, are a sort of royal road to the unconscious. They tell you what your secret self cannot express.

  • It is the nature of those books we call classics to wait patiently on the shelf for us to grow into them.

  • Writers are always at the edge of the inferno, and the fire is licking at our toes. Luckily, this turns us on!

    • Erica Jong,
    • in The Writer ()
  • A book is a box brimming with incendiary material. The reader strikes the match.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in The Writer ()
  • Language matters because whoever controls the words controls the conversation, because whoever controls the conversation controls its outcome, because whoever frames the debate has already won it, because telling the truth has become harder and harder to achieve in an America drowning in Orwellian Newspeak.

  • You cannot tell the truth when words are corrupted. Our country was founded on the notion that the plain words of the people are more important than the fancy words of kings.

  • Having stopped expecting truth, we rarely get it.

  • Murky language means someone wants to pick your pocket.

  • I am never so calm as after I have written. And the next morning I will feel the familiar anxiety and I will have to begin the process all over again.

  • Genius is a strong aphrodisiac.

  • Young people never believe in the possibility of their own deaths. That's one reason old men can send them to war.

  • Sex has the unparalleled power to make us absurd to ourselves. It also has the power to make us understand transcendence.

  • The camera creates a magical transformation. It's not enough to exist; we must chronicle that existence. ... Narrative- and image-making creatures like humans don't feel any experience is complete unless it's recorded.

  • Plot is just a fancy way of saying 'and then.'

  • Isn't it our job to be appalled by our parents? Isn't it every generation's duty to be dismayed by the previous generation? And to assert that we are different — only to discover later that we are distressingly the same?

  • ... poetry is fired by love ...

    • Erica Jong
  • ... what is great poetry, after all, but the continuation of the human voice after death?

    • Erica Jong
  • I know some good marriages — marriages where both people are just trying to get through their days by helping each other, being good to each other.

    • Erica Jong
  • Many, many people have done a lot more sexual experimentation than I have.

    • Erica Jong
  • A baby's mother also needs a mother.

    • Erica Jong
  • I have lived my life according to this principle: If I'm afraid of it, then I must do it.

    • Erica Jong
  • You can't be creative and still be a good girl.

    • Erica Jong
  • I write lustily and humorously. It isn't calculated; it's the way I think. I've invented a writing style that expresses who I am.

    • Erica Jong
  • Each day that I don't write I get more fragmented.

    • Erica Jong
  • Writing about sex turns out to be just writing about life.

  • Women who bear children before they establish serious habits of work may never establish them at all.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "Creativity Versus Maternity," What Do Women Want? ()
  • The greatest feminists have also been the greatest lovers. I'm thinking not only of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley, but of Anaïs Nin, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and of course Sappho. You cannot divide creative juices from human juices. And as long as juicy women are equated with bad women, we will err on the side of being bad.

    • Erica Jong
  • Sex without love is a cancerous cigarette we willingly smoke.

  • ... I worry if I don't worry.

  • ... a father of daughters is a man who's been tested. And usually found wanting.

  • A friend once told me that before you visit your grandchildren, you get more excited than when you are going to meet a lover. Mostly it's true.

  • We are so scared of being judged that we look for every excuse to procrastinate.

  • There is still the feeling that women's writing is a lesser class of writing, that what goes on in the nursery or the bedroom is not as important as what goes on in the battlefield ... that what women know about is a lesser category of knowledge.

    • Erica Jong,
    • in New York Quarterly ()
  • Keeping a journal implies hope ...

  • The worst thing about jealousy is how low it makes you reach.

Erica Jong, U.S. writer, poet, activist

(1942)

Full name: Erica Mann Jong. My favorite thing about the clear-eyed, quick-witted, and intelligent Erica Jong is — are you surprised? — her fearlessness. An original thinker, she rarely repeats herself and is always widening her own, and our, horizons.