Katherine Anne Porter
Quotations


A cultivated style would be like a mask. Everybody knows it's a mask, and sooner or later you must show yourself--or at least, you show yourself as someone who could not afford to show himself, and so created something to hide behind. You do not create a style. You work, and develop yourself; your style is an emanation from your own being.

A novel is really like a symphony where instrument after instrument has to come in at its own time, and no other.

All the old houses that I knew when I was a child were full of books, bought generation after generation by members of the family. Nobody told you to read this or not to read that.

Even St. Teresa said, "I can pray better when I'm comfortable," and she refused to wear her haircloth shirt or starve herself. I don't think living in cellars and starving is better for an artist than it is for anybody else.

Human life itself may be almost pure chaos, but the work of the artist--the only thing he's good for--is to take these handfuls of confusion and disparate things, things that seem to be irreconcilable, and put them together in a frame to give them some kind of shape and meaning. Even if it's only his view of a meaning. That's what he's for--to give his view of life.

I always write my last lines, my last paragraph, my last page first, and then I go back and work towards it. How I get there is God's grace.

I look upon literature as an art, and I believe that if you misuse it or abuse it, it will leave you. It is not a thing that you can nail down and use as you want. You have to let it use you, too.

I think I've only spent about ten percent of my energies on writing. The other ninety percent went to keeping my head above water.

I have no patience with this dreadful idea that whatever you have in you has to come out, that you can't suppress true talent. People can be destroyed; they can be bent, distorted, and completely crippled.

Love is purely a creation of the human imagination, the most important example of how the human imagination continually outruns the creature it inhabits.

One of the marks of a gift is to have the courage of it.

Our being is subject to all the chances of life. There are so many things we are capable of, that we could be or do. The potentialities are so great that we never, any of us, are more than one-fourth fulfilled.

The real sin against life is to abuse and destroy beauty, even one's own--even more, one's own, for that has been put in our care and we are responsible for its well-being.

There seems to be a kind of order in the universe, in the movement of the stars and the turning of the earth and the changing of the seasons, and even in the cycle of human life. But human life itself is almost pure chaos. Everyone takes his stance, asserts his own rights and feelings, mistaking the motives of others, and his own.



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