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Elizabeth Janeway

  • ... it is through the ghost [writer] that the great gift of knowledge which the inarticulate have for the world can be made available.

    • Elizabeth Janeway,
    • in Helen Hull, ed., The Writer's Book ()
  • ... though we do not have many poets, we certainly have more than we deserve, for we deserve none at all. It is ourselves that we are hurting by our stupidity and ignorance of poetry ...

    • Elizabeth Janeway,
    • in Helen Hull, ed., The Writer's Book ()
  • Poets are the leaven in the lump of civilization.

    • Elizabeth Janeway,
    • in Helen Hull, ed., The Writer's Book ()
  • As long as mixed grills and combination salads are popular, anthologies will undoubtedly continue in favor.

    • Elizabeth Janeway,
    • in Helen Hull, ed., The Writer's Book ()
  • Unless I am what I am and feel what I feel — as hard as I can and as honestly and truly as I can — then I am nothing. Let me feel guilty ... don't try to educate me ... don't protect me.

  • If there's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come, there is nothing more ubiquitously pervasive than an idea whose time won't go.

  • 'Man's world' and 'woman's place' have confronted each other since Scylla first faced Charybdis. ... if women have only a place, clearly the rest of the world must belong to someone else and, therefore, in default of God, to men.

  • Few cultures have not produced the idea that in some past era the world ran better than it does now.

  • Can one consider controversy without falling into it?

  • Mythology is like gravity, inconvenient at times, but necessary for cohesion.

  • If one is going to change things, one has to make a fuss and catch the eye of the world.

    • Elizabeth Janeway,
    • in Barbaralee Diamonstein, Open Secrets ()
  • Today, what most people live in, or with, is the less-than-nuclear family. Working fathers are absent from home during most of the day, the children are schooled outside it, and practically all women who work for money must go outside to earn their living.

    • Elizabeth Janeway,
    • "Family Life in Transition," in Eli Ginzberg and Alice M. Yohalem, eds., Corporate Lib: Women's Challenge to Management ()
  • The greatest barrier to women's advance in the public world of action has been their acquiescence in the idea that they don't belong out there.

    • Elizabeth Janeway,
    • "Family Life in Transition," in Eli Ginzberg and Alice M. Yohalem, eds., Corporate Lib: Women's Challenge to Management ()
  • ... reaction isn't action — that is, it isn't truly creative.

  • If every nation gets the government it deserves, every generation writes the history which corresponds with its view of the world.

  • ... what society requires from art ... is that it function as an early warning system.

  • I have a problem about being nearly sixty: I keep waking up in the morning and thinking I'm thirty-one.

  • Love between women is seen as a paradigm of love between equals, and that is perhaps its greatest attraction.

  • Myth, legend, and ritual ... function to maintain a status quo. That makes them singularly bad in coping with change, indeed counterproductive, for change is the enemy of myth.

  • Mistrust must be acted on, and effective action by the ruled is not solitary and singular, but joint and repeated.

  • This is the power of the powerful to define, to structure, to say, 'This is the way the world works.' It's enormous power. Among the powers of the weak, I think the first one is the power not to believe the powerful.

  • ... those who despair of life are not long for it.

  • ... individual advances turn into social change when enough of them occur ...

  • The maxims for success laid out by the powerful are never much good as guides for those who aren't powerful.

  • ... art is a framework, a kind of living trellis, on which public dreaming can shape itself ...

  • ... power is not a thing to be owned. But if you believe that it is such a thing, losing it becomes a possibility to fear. That fear, I think, is one reason for the dark projections of a catastrophic future that are so widespread, in our dual society. The present powerful, being committed to polarization, expect that any new deal will overturn the one that set them in authority; that the last shall be first and the first last, role reversal everywhere, men as slaves, women as masters, in a revolution of contradiction.

  • ... we don't get offered crises, they arrive.

  • ... we expect definitions to tell us not only what is, but what to do about it; to show us how the world fits together and how its different parts connect and work. ... A label is the first step toward action.

  • Creeds and causal systems have argued with each other for millennia, and even so we and our ancestors have managed to live in a world of differing opinions. Philosophical disputes don't often affect the price of fish or wine.

  • How can you communicate your thoughts or demonstrate your hypotheses by conventional means when all the values and standards that you want to challenge are built into those means? Science and new technology today like to declare that they encourage 'lateral thinking,' new ways of seeing and putting data together — but all systems have an inbuilt resistance to what has not been programmed into them through the premises on which their rules are based.

  • ... a problem that presents itself as a dilemma carries an unfortunate prescription: to argue instead of act.

  • Humor is an antidote to isolation.

  • We put up with a lot to be saved from chaos. We always have.

  • Powerful people get away with things. That's one way to demonstrate their difference from the rest of us.

  • The idea of power as a possession, whose asset can be banked and drawn on when needed, comes easy to a society whose rules grow out of the methods of finance capitalism.

  • If history is really relevant in today's world, the proposition doesn't command much respect. Perhaps the past is a different country, but if so no one much wants to travel there.

  • ... television. It has changed the way that we perceive the world out there, and though we know that — have indeed been bombarded with analyses on the consequences for society, for the family, and for individual psychology — I don't believe that we have yet begun to appreciate the reach of its subliminal effects, of what we might call 'the slow viruses.' They not only get into our ways of seeing, they pervade the ways in which we weave our perceptions together into patterns that support and explain our thinking and our doing and both direct and hinder various kinds of relationships.

  • Whatever class and race divergences exist, top cats are tom cats.

  • We haven't come a long way, we've come a short way. If we hadn't come a short way, no one would be calling us 'baby.'

    • Elizabeth Janeway,
    • in Evelyn L. Beilenson and Sharon Melnick, Words on Women ()
  • Power is the ability not to have to please.

    • Elizabeth Janeway

Elizabeth Janeway, U.S. novelist, critic, essayist, journalist

(1913 - 2005)

Full name: Elizabeth Hall Janeway.