When cafe life thrives, talk is a shared limberness of the mind that improves appetite for conversation: an adequate sentence maker is then made good, a good one excellent, an excellent one extraordinary.

— Vivian Gornick

The most uplifting Vivian Gornick quotes that will add value to your life

Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession.

.. The choice to serve and be protected and plan towards being a family-maker is a choice that shouldn't be. The heart of radical feminism is to change that

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Every work [of literature] has both a situation and a story.

The situation is the context or circumstance, sometimes the plot; the story is the emotional experience that preoccupies the writer: the insight, the wisdom, the thing one has come to say

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The point of women's liberation is not to stand at the door of the male world, beating our fists, and crying, 'Let me in, damn you, let me in!' The point is to walk away from the world and concentrate on creating a new woman.

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Adorable in her not-very-bright submissiveness, charming in her childlike delight in shiny floors, even forgivable in her spiteful competition for the whitest, brightest wash, Madison Avenue's girl-next door is all the American male could wish for: unless, by some miscarriage, he should fancy human companionship.

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Papa's love did indeed have wondrous properties: it not only compensated for her boredom and anxiety, it was the cause of her boredom and anxiety.

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That's the hardest thing to do-to stay with a sentence until it has said what it should say, and then to know when that has been accomplished.

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Psychoanalysis showed me that I might be neurotic because I was a girl but, as Chekhov might have put it, I alone had to squeeze the slave out of myself, drop by drop.

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Before I knew that I was Jewish or a girl I knew that I was a member of the working class. At a time when I had not yet grasped the significance of the fact that in my house English was a second language, or that I wore dresses while my brother wore pants, I knew--and I knew it was important to know--that Papa worked hard all day long.

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The older I grow, the more I realize how unfit we are for relationships.

We are all such antagonists. It's part of the human condition to be deeply unfaithful to constancy. I do believe that.

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... the whole sickening trickery in life -- the idea that one cannot fight for one's humanity without, ironically, losing it ... that trickery is the real enemy and the very essence of the thing we must continually be on our guard against.

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Science, like art, religion, political theory, or psychoanalysis - is work that holds out the promise of philosophic understanding, excites in us the belief that we can 'make sense of it all.

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Scientists do what writers do. They also live with an active interiority, only the ongoing speculation in their heads is about relations in the physical world rather than the psychological one.

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About Vivian Gornick

Quotes 56 sayings
Profession Critic
Birthday June 14, 1935

I hated being "Mrs." from the first second each time. I didn't know why. All I knew was how uncomfortable it felt. I hated being one half of a couple, without understanding that it wasn't the husband or the man I hated, it was situation, the identity.

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What you feel when you're writing is the relief of thinking: if you write the sentence correctly, you're clarifying. If you write the right sentence, nothing feels as good.

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a scientist or a writer is one who ruminates continuously on the nature of physical or imaginative life, experiences repeated relief and excitement when the insight comes, and is endlessly attracted to working out the idea.

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The memoirist, like the poet and the novelist, must engage the world, because engagement makes experience, experience makes wisdom, and finally it's the wisdom-or rather the movement toward it-that counts.

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I was never an activist, in the sense that I didn't really join a lot of organizations. I wasn't out in the streets. But what I did become was a writer. My activism was in writing.

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When I work I feel more alive than under any other circumstances.

There's not an 'I love you' in the world that can match it. I feel safe, excited, at peace, erotic, centered. Nothing can touch me.

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I once wrote a book on women in science.

I realized when I was interviewing them that they were the equivalent of writers, or anyone else who tries to make art out of life. Through science they had reached the expressive.

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To do science today is to experience a dimension unique in contemporary working lives; the work promises something incomparable: the sense of living both personally and historically. That is why science now draws to itself all kinds of people - charlatans, mediocrities, geniuses - everyone who wants to touch the flame, feel alive to the time.

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Writing enters into us when it gives us information about ourselves we are in need of *at the time that we are reading.* How obvious the thought seems once it has been articulated! As with love, politics, or friendship: readiness is all.

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Widowhood provided Mama with a higher form of being.

In refusing to recover from my father's death she had discovered that her life was endowed with a seriousness her years in the kitchen had denied her. She remained devoted to this seriousness for thirty years. She never tired of it, never grew bored or restless in its company, found new ways to keep alive the interest it deserved and had so undeniably earned.

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Just as once upon a time you could make the experience of religion or nature a great metaphor, so now it is with love. It's just not the kind of thing you can put at the center of a work of literature and have it really reveal us to ourselves.

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Sex is the killer. Sexual love makes you feel more vulnerable than any other kind of love. That's one reason that people are so thorny and so vulnerable and so easily wounded when in love.

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You can't reduce an actual human being;

you're just writing! You're not doing anything to another person.

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What Independence Has Come to Mean to Me: The Pain of Solitude. The Pleasure of Self-Knowledge

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Of course love is a force in life. People will go on falling in love forever. And more important, sexual infatuation will enrapture everyone. Otherwise, no babies!

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You are the instrument of your own illumination.

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What happened to the writer is not what matters;

what matters is the large sense that the writer is able to make of what happened.

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self-possession is the ability to face without fear life in all its contradictions.

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Love can't be a metaphor anymore. If you try to make literature out of it, it doesn't work.

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When the whole world is writing letters, it's easy to lap into the quiet within, tell the story of an hour, keep alive the narrating inner life. To be alone in the presence of one's thought is not a value, only a common practice.

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The difference between me in my work and the me who is here in front of you is that on the page I create a consistency, a voice that must sound really reliable; whereas in person I am free - obviously! - to sound every which way.

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Everyone longs for expressiveness. That's why love carries so much weight. Because so many lives are without other means of expressiveness.

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in New York there's such diversity that there's no one central identity; everyone is marginal.

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I don't write fiction but I do write narrative;

I write memoirs that I treat like stories, so whenever I'm using somebody I actually know as a model, I am submitting them to the agenda of a storyteller, and I feel free to do what I want.

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They may recognize themselves in what you're writing, and then they have to say, "Well, she doesn't see me as I see myself." All a writer has is her own experience, and that experience comes out of human relationships.

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The desire for narration keeps on reasserting itself, so that since modernism and fiction brought narration to an end, it is sought in memoirs.

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for me, the beauty of feminism is that it is a social and political movement that has redefined the power and obligation of the self: self-possession and self-regulation as a tool for social reform.

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I don't know if memoirs can produce literary work of the first order.

But I do know that novels are doing it only rarely.

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They say writers sell everybody out. What can you do? You know only the people you know.

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Research is the live heart of the scientific life .

.. Greatness of position, respect for past accomplishments, the Nobel Prize itself -- none of these can compensate for the loss of vitality only research provides.

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What feminism did was make clear for me how much I longed for clarity.

I got married twice, each time in a fog. I had so many complicated feelings I couldn't understand.

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A serious life, by definition, is a life one reflects on, a life one tries to make sense of and bear witness to. Truth in a memoir is achieved not through a recital of actual events; it is achieved when the reader comes to believe that the writer is working hard to engage with the experience at hand. What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the large sense that the writer is able to make of what happened.

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Awareness of the self is more acutely at the heart of things than it has ever been before. On the foundation of self-awareness alone rest all our hopes for a new politics, a new society, a revitalized life. If we do not genuinely know ourselves, the void will now, at last, surely rise up to meet us.

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It seems that fiction no longer produces work that makes one feel the human condition deeply.

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Emotional sympathies just dry up and die as we change, and they are as mysterious in friendship as in love. It's a relationship like any other.

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Women occupy, in great masses, the 'household tasks' of industry.

They are nurses but not doctors, secretaries but not executives, researchers but not writers, workers but not managers, bookkeepers but not promoters.

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The telephone conversation is, by its very nature, reactive, not reflective.

Immediacy is its prime virtue. ... The letter, written in absorbed solitude, is an act of faith: it assumes the presence of humanity: world and self are generated from within: loneliness is courted, not feared. To write a letter is to be alone with my thoughts in the conjured presence of another person. I keep myself imaginative company. I occupy the empty room.

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