Books

18 pieces of wisdom from Margaret Atwood novels

If you're smart enough to pick up a Margaret Atwood book this summer then, firstly, well done, and secondly, you're in for a treat.

Atwood's books are packed with big ideas, believable characters, unique plot developments and a whole load of smart nuggets of wisdom. To save you the trouble of highlighting your favourites, we've got the 18 greatest pieces right here.

Let us know if we've missed off your favourite.

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“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”

The Handmaid's Tale

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“If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next—if you knew in advance the consequences of your own actions—you'd be doomed. You'd be ruined as God. You'd be a stone. You'd never eat or drink or laugh or get out of bed in the morning. You'd never love anyone, ever again. You'd never dare to.”

The Blind Assassin

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“Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It's like the tide going out, revealing whatever's been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future. The ruin you've made.”

Cat's Eye

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“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”

The Handmaid's Tale

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“Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.”

Surfacing

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“Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a claim on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened.”

Cat's Eye

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“The best way of keeping a secret is to pretend there isn't one.”

The Blind Assassin

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“If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.”

Alias Grace

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“You can think clearly only with your clothes on.”

The Handmaid's Tale

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“Cleverness is a quality a man likes to have in his wife as long as she is some distance away from him. Up close, he'll take kindness any day of the week, if there's nothing more alluring to be had.”

The Penelopaid

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“Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up to the bright shadow cast by its absence. Time and distance blur the edges; then suddenly the beloved has arrived, and it's noon with its merciless light, and every spot and pore and wrinkle and bristle stands clear.”

The Blind Assassin

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“All observations of life are harsh, because life is.”

The Tent

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“I knew what love was supposed to be: obsession with undertones of nausea. ”

Cat's Eye

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“There's something to be said for hunger: at least it lets you know you're still alive.”

Oryx and Crake

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“Knowing was a temptation. What you don't know won't tempt you.”

The Handmaid's Tale

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“The truth is seldom welcome, especially at dinner.”

Morning in the Burned House

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“You can forget who you are if you're alone too much.”

The Year of the Flood

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“Which of us can resist the temptation of being thought indispensable?”

The Penelopaid

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(Images: Rex Features, All Star)

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