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Marilynne Robinson's Quotes

Marilynne Robinson profile photo

Born: 1943-11-26
Profession: Novelist
Nation: American
Biography of Marilynne Robinson

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I think about things like the fact that nobody knows what time is. Time is what? Nobody can describe it, even physics or math or anything else. But it is what we continuously experience. It's the state of our unfolding, in a way, and in that sense that the continuous reopening of reality is what I think of as, perhaps, a worldview.

Tags: Experience, Reality, Time

I think probably one of the important things that happened to me was growing up in Idaho in the mountains, in the woods, and having a very strong presence of the wilderness around me. That never felt like emptiness. It always felt like presence.

Tags: Emptiness, Growing, Strong

I used to write on a big old couch, but I gave that away. I was wise enough to give it to my son, so if it turns out that the couch was essential to my work, at least the decision to be rid of it is not irreversible.

Tags: Decision, Wise, Work

I was read to as a small child, I read on my own as soon as I could, and I recall being more or less overwhelmed again and again - if not by what the books actually said, by what they suggested, what they helped me to imagine.

Tags: Again, Said, Small

I'm a great admirer of secularism. At its best, I think it's one of the best things that we have. I don't believe in insinuating religion into conversation. I don't believe in excluding it from conversation. I enjoy the fact that people's innermost thoughts are their own.

Tags: Best, Great, Religion

My Calvinism persuades me that we are open to God, in the sense that we are not delimited, not organisms with fixed attributes in the manner of the other creatures, but are instead participants in a reality that utterly exceeds our powers of description.

Tags: God, Reality, Sense

My family was pious and Presbyterian mainly because my grandfather was pious and Presbyterian, but that was more of an inherited intuition than an actual fact.

Tags: Fact, Family, Intuition

My first novel, 'Housekeeping,' was accepted by the first agent who read it, and bought by the first editor who read it. In general, my experience with publication has been gentle and gratifying.

Tags: Experience, General, Read

Oddly enough, my favorite genre is not fiction. I'm attracted by primary sources that are relevant to historical questions of interest to me, by famous old books on philosophy or theology that I want to see with my own eyes, by essays on contemporary science, by the literatures of antiquity.

Tags: Famous, Philosophy, Science

Teaching is a distraction and a burden, but it's also an incredible stimulus. And a reprieve, in a way. When you're trying to work on something and it's not going anywhere, you can go to school and there's a two-and-a-half-hour block of time in which you can accomplish something.

Tags: School, Time, Work

The idea that myth is the opposite of knowledge, or the opposite of truth, is simply to disallow it. It is like saying poetry is the opposite of truth.

Tags: Knowledge, Poetry, Truth

The mind, whatever else it is, is a constant of everyone's experience, and, in more ways than we know, the creator of the reality that we live within... Nothing is more essential to us.

Tags: Experience, Mind, Reality

When I lecture, under almost all circumstances, I write a new lecture for the occasion. It helps me think. It helps me make demands of myself that I would not otherwise make.

Tags: Almost, Lecture, Write

When I read 'Paradise Lost,' or 'Richard III,' it is clear that Milton and Shakespeare took real pleasure and satisfaction from creating these epitomes of evil.

Tags: Evil, Lost, Real

When I went to college, I majored in American literature, which was unusual then. But it meant that I was broadly exposed to nineteenth-century American literature. I became interested in the way that American writers used metaphoric language, starting with Emerson.

Tags: American, College, Used

When I'm writing fiction, I'm sort of interested by the fact that somehow or other I can have the feeling of actually seeing things through someone else's eyes.

Tags: Feeling, Someone, Writing

For our purposes as human beings, the mind is the center of everything.

Tags: Center, Human, Mind

I don't think I could write a novel that wasn't theological.

Tags: Novel, Write

I find that the hardest work in the world... is to persuade Easterners that growing up in the West is not intellectually crippling.

Tags: Growing, West, Work

I listen to Bach a great deal. In general I like to listen to hymns and liturgical music.

Tags: Great, Listen, Music

I really enjoyed my kids. They were good boys, you know, and interesting. And they didn't wear me out.

Tags: Good, Kids, Wear

I think a Christian definition of the mind should be: an openness to whatever the individual and collective mind reveals to us.

Tags: Christian, Mind, Whatever

I've learned a lot about writing from listening to my students talk.

Tags: Learned, Talk, Writing

It saddens me that Christians need to be reminded that awe is owed also to those who disagree with them, who believe otherwise than they do.

Tags: Awe, Christians, Disagree

Many readers know my work first through 'Housekeeping,' simply because it was my only novel for a pretty long time.

Tags: Pretty, Time, Work

My brother told me I was going to be a poet. I had a good brother. He did a lot of good brotherly work.

Tags: Brother, Good, Work

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Much more quotes by Marilynne Robinson below the page.

My heroes are, above all, the great 19th-century Americans: Emerson, Whitman, Dickinson and the others. I love the way they think.

Tags: Great, Love, Others

One of the things about writing fiction is that you create people that you feel, more or less, as though you know.

Tags: Less, Though, Writing

One of the things that is wonderful about hymns is that they are a sort of universally shared poetry, at least among certain populations.

Tags: Among, Poetry, Wonderful

Over my life as a teacher, women have been too quiet. I'm quiet myself. I don't think I said three words the whole of graduate school.

Tags: Life, Teacher, Women

The Bible for me is holy writ. It's a very straightforward thing, although I am not a literalist.

Tags: Although, Bible, Holy

Writing nonfiction has been my most serious education, and for all those years it kept me from even glancing in the direction of despair.

Tags: Education, Serious, Writing

A lot of Christian extremism has done a great deal to discredit religion; the main religious traditions have abandoned their own intellectual cultures so drastically that no one has any sense of it other than the fringe.

Tags: Done, Great, Religion

I did go through graduate school and I like to do research, to create something that has a certain objective solidity. The same thing influences my fiction to some degree, because, you know, my fiction is often based on history that I've read.

Tags: History, Often, School

I don't claim to know what it means to say that we are made in the image of God, but I profoundly and instinctively believe it and all that it implies.

Tags: God, Image, Means

I doubt that I could create a character I loathed simply because when a character takes life, it is impossible not to be a little amazed by the phenomenon, and to find that the amazement has something of the quality of delight.

Tags: Character, Doubt, Life

I like major theology. I like Karl Barth, and I like John Calvin, and I like Martin Luther. The scale of thinking and the power of integration that they're capable of from thinking in that scale is something that's really unique to theology.

Tags: Power, Thinking, Unique

I like to read in my own house, in any of the rooms I always mean to paint or otherwise improve and never do. Every detail is so familiar to me that it makes almost no claim on my attention.

Tags: Attention, Makes, Mean

I read things like theology, and I read about science, 'Scientific American' and publications like that, because they stimulate again and again my sense of the almost arbitrary given-ness of experience, the fact that nothing can be taken for granted.

Tags: Experience, Science, Sense

I remember when I was a child... walking into the woods by myself and feeling the solitude around me build like electricity and pass through my body with a jolt that made my hair prickle.

Tags: Child, Feeling, Remember

I tend to think of the reading of any book as preparation for the next reading of it. There are always intervening books or facts or realizations that put a book in another light and make it different and richer the second or the third time.

Tags: Book, Put, Time