Cynthia Ozick

(Cynthia Shoshana Ozick)

No Photo Available

  • Born: April 17, 1928
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Novelist

49

Quotes

0

Citations

6

Concepts

0

Videos

Cynthia Shoshana Ozick is an American short story writer, novelist, and essayist.

Quotes About
Author Quote
Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
A novel can be set in motion by an incident, a character, a location, a mood - by anything at all. Sometimes the stimulus can be an idea, which will rapidly clothe itself in character and incident. 'Foreign Bodies' came about through the contemplation of the contrast between post-second world war America and Europe. War & Peace
After a certain number of years, our faces become our biographies.
All writing is presumption, of course, since no one knows what it is like to be another human being.
Among contemporaries, I hugely admire Alice Munro, our Chekhov, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and John Updike, American masters all. I also believe that the voice of Gordon Lish is astoundingly original and sorrowful.
An article can be timely, topical, engaged in the issues and personalities of the moment; it is likely to be stale within the month. In five years, it may have acquired the quaint aura of a rotary phone. An article is usually Siamese-twinned to its date of birth.
An essay is a thing of the imagination. If there is information in an essay, it is by-the-by, and if there is an opinion, one need not trust it for the long run. A genuine essay rarely has an educational, polemical, or sociopolitical use; it is the movement of a free mind at play. Trust
Auden is a poet - no, the poet - of unembarrassed intellect. Ideas are his emotions, emotions are his ideas.
Early in the 1990s, I flew alone in a dandelion-yellow, single-engine, 180-horsepower Piper Cherokee from Westchester County Airport in New York westward to the Rocky Mountains, landing and refuelling a good many times in middle-sized cities and towns along the way.
Hebrew as a contemporary language, especially for poetry, is no longer the language of the Bible; but neither is it not the language of the Bible. Literature, Writers & Writing
Hebrew in America has a bemusing past. The Puritans, out of scriptural piety, once dreamed of establishing Hebrew as the national language.
I am proudest of that first novel, 'Trust,' of anything I have written. I don't think I've had such intense energy since. Trust
I don't agree with the sentiment 'write what you know.'... I think one should write what one doesn't know. The world is bigger and wider and more complex than our small subjective selves. One should prod, goad the imagination.
I don't like to read contemporary fiction while writing - I need a sense of isolation, a kind of silence, and I don't want a jumble of other people's voices or visions getting in my way. Nineteenth-century voices don't create static in that silence.
I had the idea in my twenties that a writer could immediately become the late Henry James. Henry James himself had to mature. Even Saul Bellow did.
I have lost stories and many starts of novels before. Not always as punishment for 'telling,' but more often as a result of something having gone cold and dead because of a hiatus. Telling, you see, is the same as a hiatus. It means you're not doing it.
I never conceived of not writing a novel. I believed - oh, God, I believed, it was an article of faith! - I was born to write a novel. Religion & God
I read in order to write. I read out of obsession with writing.
I think a fictional invention grows according to its own development, not the author's. Characters in fiction are not simply as alive as you and me, they are more alive. Becky Sharp, Elizabeth Bennett, and Don Quixote may not outlive the burning out of the sun, but they will certainly outlive the brief candle of our lives.
I think about fanaticism - oblivion awaits, especially for minor writers, so you have to be a fanatic; you have to be a crank to keep going, but on the other hand, what else would you do with the rest of your life? You gotta do something. Life
I think it is serious to have good sales. As I learned belatedly, the more you sell, the more publishers pay attention to you, and it took me a very long time to figure that out because I never thought that way. Time
I think most of my life I have not felt recognized. Life
I think that fanaticism is terrific. As long as you don't have to live with it. Oh, yes, nobody should marry a writer.
I wanted to use what I was, to be what I was born to be - not to have a 'career', but to be that straightforward obvious unmistakable animal, a writer.
If an essay has a 'motive,' it is linked more to happenstance and opportunity than to the driven will. A genuine essay is not a doctrinaire tract or a propaganda effort or a broadside.
If I've ever regretted anything, it was putting all my eggs in one basket, holing up and kneeling at the altar of literature, instead of going out and at least reviewing, running around and trying to write for magazines. That would've been the intelligent thing to do, but I didn't, and that was because of fanaticism.
I'm a fiction writer, and I do write essays, but I am not a poet. And I absolutely reject the phrase 'woman writer' as anti-feminist. I wrote an essay about this as far back as 1977, at the height of the neo-feminist movement.
I'm afraid that the act of writing is so scary and anxiety-filled that I never laugh at all. In fact, when people tell me that such and such a scene or story is comical, I tend to gape. I did not intend comedy - ever, as far as I know. It's probably all a mistake. I am essentially a lugubrious writer. Ha ha!
In 1952, I had gone to England on a literary pilgrimage, but what I also saw, even at that distance from the blitz, were bombed-out ruins and an enervated society, while the continent was still, psychologically, in the grip of its recent atrocities. Society
In an essay, you have the outcome in your pocket before you set out on your journey, and very rarely do you make an intellectual or psychological discovery. But when you write fiction, you don't know where you are going - sometimes down to the last paragraph - and that is the pleasure of it.
In books, as in life, there are no second chances. On second thought: it's the next work, still to be written, that offers the second chance. Life ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
In saying what is obvious, never choose cunning. Yelling works better.
Literature is for the sake of humanity.
My first encounter with James was when I was seventeen. My brother brought home from the public library a science fiction anthology, which included 'The Beast in the Jungle.' It swept me away. I had a strange, somewhat uncanny feeling that it was the story of my life. Life ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
No one can teach writing, but classes may stimulate the urge to write. If you are born a writer, you will inevitably and helplessly write. A born writer has self-knowledge. Read, read, read. And if you are a fiction writer, don't confine yourself to reading fiction. Every writer is first a wide reader.
Novelists go about the strenuous business of marrying and burying their people, or else they send them to sea, or to Africa, or at the least, out of town. Essayists in their stillness ponder love and death. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Death ;Business, Commerce & Finance
People often ask how I can reject the phrase 'woman writer' and not reject the phrase 'Jewish writer' - a preposterous question. 'Jewish' is a category of civilization, culture, and intellect, and 'woman' is a category of anatomy and physiology.
Profound subject matter can be encompassed in small space - for proof, look at any sonnet by Shakespeare!
Sometimes writing has to be forced. In starting out, the shape and timbre and texture of what is to come is an uncertain chimera shimmering from behind a veil. You must not wait, loiter, dilly-dally. You must force your way painfully through.
The engineering is secondary to the vision.
The Hebrew Bible has long been the world's possession, and those who come to it by any means, through whatever language, are equals in ownership, and may not be denied the intimacy of their spiritual claim.
The novel at its nineteenth-century pinnacle was a Judaized novel: George Eliot and Dickens and Tolstoy were all touched by the Jewish covenant: they wrote of conduct and of the consequences of conduct: they were concerned with a society of will and commandment. Society
The novelist's intuition for the sacred differs from the translator's interrogation of the sacred.
There was a period... when I used to say, with as much ferocity as I could muster, 'I hate Henry James, and I wish he was dead.' Influence is perdition.
To be a Jew is an act of the strenuous mind as it stands before the fakeries and lying seductions of the world, saying no and no again as they parade by in all their allure. And to be a writer is to plunge into the parade and become one of the delirious marchers.
To say that such-and-such a circumstance is 'Kafkaesque' is to admit to the denigration of an imagination that has burned a hole in what we take to be modernism - even in what we take to be the ordinary fabric and intent of language. Nothing is like 'The Hunger Artist.' Nothing is like 'The Metamorphosis.'
Traveling is seeing; it is the implicit that we travel by. Travel
When I say that George Eliot has long been my hero, I mean to include those aspects of her thought and temperament that have been disparaged or dismissed or ignored. She was, after all, a novelist who did not eschew politics or polemics - sometimes silently though defiantly, as in her relationship with George Henry Lewes. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Whoever utters 'Kafkaesque' has neither fathomed nor intuited nor felt the impress of Kafka's devisings. If there is one imperative that ought to accompany any biographical or critical approach, it is that Kafka is not to be mistaken for the Kafkaesque.
With certain rapturous exceptions, literature is the moral life. Life