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Alison Lurie

  • We all want to be guilty, because guilt is power.

  • As one went to Europe to see the living past, so one must visit Southern California to observe the future.

  • If nothing will finally survive of life besides what artists report of it, we have no right to report what we know to be lies.

  • But I think that sometimes, when one's behaved like a rather second-rate person, the way I did at breakfast, then in a kind of self-destructive shock one goes and does something really second-rate. Almost as if to prove it ...

  • There's a rule, I think. You get what you want in life, but not your second choice too.

  • When Jeffrey turned fourteen and Matilda twelve, they had begun to change; to grow rude, coarse, selfish, insolent, nasty, brutish, and tall. It was as if she were keeping a boarding house in a bad dream, and the children she had loved were turning into awful lodgers — lodgers who paid no rent, whose leases could not be terminated.

  • You get into the habit of being angry and hurt by life, and then when something good happens you can't accept it because it doesn't fit the pattern.

  • Other wars end eventually in victory, defeat or exhaustion, but the war between men and women goes on forever.

  • The fashion industry is no more able to preserve a style that men and women have decided to abandon than to introduce one they do not choose to accept.

  • ... the fashion pages of magazines such as Cosmopolitan now seem to specialize in telling the career girl what to wear to charm the particular wrong type of man who reads Playboy, while the editorial pages tell her how to cope with the resulting psychic damage.

  • America has a history of political isolation and economic self-sufficiency; its citizens have tended to regard the rest of the world as a disaster area from which lucky or pushy people emigrate to the Promised Land.

  • Many Americans think of the rest of the world as a kind of Disneyland, a showplace for quaint fauna, flora and artifacts. They dress for travel in cheap, comfortable, childish clothes, as if they were going to the zoo and would not be seen by anyone except the animals.

  • Attempts to limit female mobility by hampering locomotion are ancient and almost universal. The foot-binding of upper-class Chinese girls and the Nigerian custom of loading women's legs with pounds of heavy brass wire are extreme examples, but all over the world similar stratagems have been employed to make sure that once you have caught a woman she cannot run away, and even if she stays around she cannot keep up with you. ... Literally as well as figuratively modern women's shoes are what keeps Samantha from running as fast as Sammy.

  • ... even when we say nothing our clothes are talking noisily to everyone who sees us, telling them who we are, where we come from, what we like to do in bed and a dozen other intimate things ...

  • We can lie in the language of dress, or try to tell the truth; but unless we are naked and bald it is impossible to be silent.

  • With a pencil and paper, I could revise the world.

    • Alison Lurie,
    • "No One Asked Me to Write a Novel," in New York Times Books Review ()
  • ... in a sense much great literature is subversive, since its very existence implies that what matters is art, imagination, and truth. In what we call the real world, on the other hand, what usually counts is money, power, and public success.

  • Most of the great works of juvenile literature are subversive in one way or another: they express ideas and emotions not generally approved of or even recognized at the time; they make fun of honored figures and piously held beliefs; and they view social pretenses with clear-eyed directness, remarking — as in Andersen's famous tale — that the emperor has no clothes.

  • Nature can seem cruel, but she balances her books.

  • When awards are given for children's books, the books that win tend not only to be admirably well written but also to contain at least one Wise and Good Grown-Up or Grown-Up Equivalent ... Moral and emotional lessons are taught, and there is a warm relationship between the young people and an adult. The books children choose for themselves typically feature a group of kids who face dangers, have exciting adventures and help and instruct one another. Any adults who are important in the story are apt to be villains. If there are well-meaning parents and teachers around, they have no idea what really goes on in their absence ...

    • Alison Lurie,
    • in The New York Times Book Review ()
  • Real literature, like travel, is always a surprise.

    • Alison Lurie

Alison Lurie, U.S. writer, academic


Full name: Alison Bishop Lurie.