Salman Rushdie
Quotations


Not even the visionary or mystical experience ever lasts very long. It is for art to capture that experience, to offer it to, in the case of literature, its readers; to be, for a secular, materialist culture, some sort of replacement for what the love of god offers in the world of faith.

Where there is no belief, there is no blasphemy.

The real risks for any artist are taken . . . in pushing the work to the limits of what is possible, in the attempt to increase the sum of what it is possible to think. Books become good when they go to this edge and risk falling over it -- when they endanger the artist by reason of what he has, or has not, artistically dared.

A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return.

I used to say: “there is a God-shaped hole in me.” For a long time I stressed the absence, the hole. Now I find it is the shape which has become more important.

I don’t think it is always necessary to take up the anti-colonial -- or is it post-colonial? -- cudgels against English. What seems to me to be happening is that those people who were once colonized by the language are now rapidly remaking it, domesticating it, becoming more and more relaxed about the way they use it -- assisted by the English language’s enormous flexibility and size, they are carving out large territories for themselves within its frontiers.

Doubt, it seems to me, is the central condition of a human being in the twentieth century.

I hate admitting that my enemies have a point.

One of the extraordinary things about human events is that the unthinkable becomes thinkable.

Throughout human history, the apostles of purity, those who have claimed to possess a total explanation, have wrought havoc among mere mixed-up human beings.

The acceptance that all that is solid has melted into the air, that reality and morality are not givens but imperfect human constructs, is the point from which fiction begins.

The novel does not seek to establish a privileged language but it insists upon the freedom to portray and analyse the struggle between the different contestants for such privileges.

Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.

If you want to tell the untold stories, if you want to give voice to the voiceless, you’ve got to find a language. Which goes for film as well as prose, for documentary as well as autobiography. Use the wrong language, and you’re dumb and blind.

Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination and of the heart.

The liveliness of literature lies in its exceptionality, in being the individual, idiosyncratic vision of one human being, in which, to our delight and great surprise, we may find our own vision reflected.

Writers and politicians are natural rivals. Both groups try to make the world in their own images; they fight for the same territory.

The only privilege literature deserves -- and this privilege it requires in order to exist -- is the privilege of being in the arena of discourse, the place where the struggle of our languages can be acted out.

Sometimes legends make reality, and become more useful than the facts.

A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.

In this world without quiet corners, there can be no easy escapes from history, from hullabaloo, from terrible, unquiet fuss.

Books choose their authors; the act of creation is not entirely a rational and conscious one.



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