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The Insights of Rumer Godden

Rumer Godden is one of the foremost English language authors of the 20th century. She won The Whitbread Award for Children's Literature in 1972, was awarded the OBE in 1993 and nine of her books have been made into films, the most famous being Black Narcissus. She wrote some 60 works during her life, drawing on her experiences of life in India and Britain. She died in 1998 aged ninety-one.

Here are some quotes showing a variety on insights:

'Remember that people need only be told as much of the truth as they are entitled to know.’

'There is an Indian proverb that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual . Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.'

'When I was a child I remember days that stretched into infinity with the certainty of other infinite days; certain, unhurried and brimmingly full.’

'It is an anxious, sometimes a dangerous thing to be a doll. Dolls cannot choose; they can only be chosen; they cannot "do"; they can only be done by.'

'Sometimes it seemed to him that the house had a bad wild life of its own; the impression of its evil lingered, in its name, in its atmosphere…'

'I loved Mr. Darcy far more than any of my own husbands.'

'"Funny," said Harriet to herself. "The world goes on turning, and it has all these troubles in it."'

'When you learn to read you will be born again...and you will never be quite so alone again.'

'Harriet told her, "Captain John was so brave. He stayed there in the battle until his leg was shot off." Victoria's brown eyes rested thoughtfully on Captain John. "Why didn't he stay until the other leg was shot off?" she asked. But he still seemed to like Victoria best.'

'In good company your thoughts run, in solitude your thought is still; it goes deeper and makes for itself a deeper groove, delves. Delve means "dig with a spade"; it means hard work. In talk your mind can be stretched, widened, exhilarated to heights but it cannot be deepened; you have to deepen it yourself.’

‘It needs sturdiness. You will be lonely, you will be depressed; you must expect it; if you were training your body it would ache and be tired. It is worth it. There is a Hindu proverb which says: "You only grow when you are alone".'

'A garden isn't meant to be useful. It's for joy.

'You are born, you are a he or a she, and you live until you die... Willy-nilly.'

'"One of the good things about a Catholic church is that it isn't respectable," she had told Richard. "You can find anyone in it, from duchesses to whores, from tramps to kings."'

'"I wish I knew when I was going to die," ninety-six-year-old Dame Frances Anne often said, "I wish I knew."

"Why, Dame?"

"Then I should know what to read next."'

'Harriet was silent, thinking, and then she said, "It is too hard to be a person. You don't only have to go on and on. You have to be--" she looked for the word she needed and could not find it. Then, "You have to be tall as well," said Harriet.'

'I have never understood why "hard work" is supposed to be pitiable. True, some work is soul destroying when it is done against the grain, but when it is part of "making" how can you grudge it? You get tired, of course, but the struggle, the challenge, the feeling of being extended as you never thought you could be is fulfilling and deeply, deeply satisfying.'

'...and as she stood on the Ashford platform waiting for the small train to come in, she seemed already separated from the people around her. Tomorrow I shall not be among you anymore; not of you but mysteriously still with you, thought Philippa. As Lady Abbess of Brede had said, "People think we renounce the world. We don't. We renounce its ways but we are still very much in it and it is very much in us."'

'Every piece of writing... starts from what I call a grit... a sight or sound, a sentence or a happening that does not pass away... but quite inexplicably lodges in the mind.'

'I know now it is children who accept life; grown people cover it up and pretend it is different with drinks.'

'On and off, all that hot French August, we made ourselves ill from eating the greengages. Joss and I felt guilty; we were still at the age when we thought being greedy was a childish fault and this gave our guilt a tinge of hopelessness because, up to then, we had believed that as we grew older our faults would disappear, and none of them did.'

'So many grown-up people seem to be nothing very much.'

'He had always disliked what he could easily have; he had a passion for the untouched.'

'"Sometimes," she said, remembering that morning, "I write poems that are taller than I am."'

'When one came to know them it was surprising how childish grown people could be.'

'Is it easier to be than to do?’

'You have to be very strong to live close to God or a mountain, or you'll turn a little mad.'


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