Tillie Olsen Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Tillie Olsen. Here they are! All 17 of them:

Be critical. Women have the right to say: This is surface, this falsifies reality, this degrades.
Tillie Olsen
But there is more – to rebel against what will not let life be.
Tillie Olsen (Yonnondio: From the Thirties)
It is a long Baptism into the seas of humankind, my daughter. Better immersion and in pain than to live untouched. Yet how will you sustain?
Tillie Olsen
There are worse words than cuss-words, there are words that hurt.
Tillie Olsen (Tell Me a Riddle)
What in me demanded that goodness in her? And what was the cost, the cost to her of such goodness?
Tillie Olsen
Maeve, you wrote this to Tillie Olsen, who treasured it, and had it up on her studio wall. I copied it, and it’s now on the [bulletin] board over my desk.” The passage reads: I have been trying to think of the word to say to you that would never fail to lift you up when you are too tired or too sad [to] not be downcast. But I can think only of a reminder—you are all it has. You are all your work has. It has nobody else and never had anybody else. If you deny it hands and a voice, it will continue as it is, alive, but speechless and without hands. You know it has eyes and can see you, and you know how hopefully it watches you. But I am speaking of a soul that is timid but that longs to be known. When you are so sad that you “cannot work” there is always danger fear will enter in and begin withering around. A good way to remain on guard is to go to the window and watch the birds for an hour or two or three. It is very comforting to see their beaks opening and shutting. This is real friendship—the kind that takes another’s soul as seriously as one’s own. Aristotle considered it the highest order of love, philia, or “friendship love,” in which tending to somebody else’s welfare is central to our own flourishing.
Kate Bolick (Spinster)
And could you not make a cameo of this and pin it onto your aesthetic hearts?
Tillie Olsen (Yonnondio: From the Thirties)
Literary history and the present are dark with silences . . . I have had special need to learn all I could of this over the years, myself so nearly remaining mute and having to let writing die over and over again in me. These are not natural silences--what Keats called agonie ennuyeuse (the tedious agony)--that necessary time for renewal, lying fallow, gestation, in the natural cycle of creation. The silences I speak of here are unnatural: the unnatural thwarting of what struggles to come into being, but cannot.
Tillie Olsen
Unlike men writers who marry, most will not have the societal equivalent of a wife-- nor (in a society hostile to growing life) anyone but themselves to mother their children.
Tillie Olsen (Silences)
Let her be. So all that is in her will not bloom—but in how many does it? There is still enough left to live by.
Tillie Olsen (I Stand Here Ironing)
Mazie sits with a sense of non-being over her – of it being someone other than she sitting there timeless, suspended in a dusky room, feeling a voice gathering around her, kind still hands of sound flaring into words meaningless and strange, meaningless when one tries to understand, but meaningful for a fleeting second.
Tillie Olsen (Yonnondio: From the Thirties)
She kept too much in herself. Her life was such that she had to keep too much in herself. My wisdom came too late. She is a child of her age, of depression, of war, of fear. Let her be. So, all that is in her will not bloom, but in how many does it? There is still enough left to live by. Only help her to know, help make it so there is cause for her to know that she is more than this dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron.
Tillie Olsen
Some people can stick to one type of writing and be perfectly happy. I’m not one of them. Once I knew that, and once I stopped trying to pigeonhole myself for the sake of a career and originality and beating Georg Büchner, I didn’t suffer any significant writer’s block again. The lesson I take from that experience is that the way to beat writer’s block is to get to know yourself better as a writer, and once you know yourself, accept yourself. You’re not Shakespeare or Joyce or Gertrude Stein or Theodore Sturgeon or Joseph Mitchell or Tillie Olsen or Fran Lebowitz or James Redfield. For better or worse, you’re you.
Jeff VanderMeer (Wonderbook (Revised and Expanded): The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction)
The rats shall be your birds, and the rocks plopping in the water your music. And death shall be your wife, who woos you in the brief moments when coal leaps from a bursting side, when a cross-piece falls and barely misses your head, when you barely catch the ladder to bring you up out of the hole you are dynamiting.
Tillie Olsen (Yonnondio: From the Thirties)
Never saw so many peaceful wrecks in my life.... That's what I want to be when I grow up, just a peaceful wreck holding hands with other peaceful wrecks.
Tillie Olsen (Tell Me a Riddle)
Tillie Olsen. James Joyce. Robert Stone. I must have read Updike’s Rabbit, Run five times and Bellow’s Herzog
Pamela Paul (By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review)
An old man, Elias Caldwell, death already smothering his breast, tries to tell a child something of all he has learned, something of what he would have her live by – and hears only incoherent words come out. Yet the thoughts revolve, revolve and whirl, a scorching nebula in his breast, sending forth flaming suns that only shatter against the walls and return to chaos. How can it be said? Once I lived in softness and ease and sickened. Once I chose a stern life, turning to people hard, bitter and strong – obscure people, the smell of soil and sweat about them – the smell of life…But I failed. I brought them nothing. To die, how bitter when nothing was done with my life. And the nebula whirls and revolves, sending its scorching suns that break in a chaos of inarticulateness about this child with a sound of fear. Nothing of it said.
Tillie Olsen (Yonnondio: From the Thirties)