Amos Oz

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In the same way in which music is made of notes and a painting is made of lines of colors, the matter of literature are words.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Color
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Each time I have the urge in me to make a statement or send a message or to issue a manifesto, I don't bother to write a novel. I write an article and publish it in a popular newspaper, or I make a television appearance. I would not waste five years of my life in order to send to the Israeli readers a simple message such as, "Let us change a policy or stop the settlements," Or, "Let us strive for peace." This is not what it is about.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Writing
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Literature is not made of ideas and it's not made of concepts, of psychological analysis. It's made of words.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Ideas
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Literature exists inside the language. It's made of words.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Literature
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I have been saying again and again that the case of Israel and Palestine, the case of Israel and the Arab world, and indeed the case of Israel and Europe, is not black and white. It's not a western movie.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Black And White
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I know that a translation of a work of literature is like playing a violin concerto on the piano. You can do this. You can do this very successfully on one strict condition: never try to force the piano to produce the sounds of the violin. This will be grotesque.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Piano
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Black Box is not a statement about injustice committed against Sephardi Oriental Jews or about the extremism of religious Jews or the lack of imagination of the old Israeli elites. It's a human story, in my view, first and foremost about a mystical communion between enemies. This is the inner story of the novel. This is my business as a novelist. It is not about positions and ideas.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Religious
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When I say my novels are set in Israel in the last seventy years, this entails the fact that they begin hundreds or thousands of years earlier in time. And, sometimes in very, very different places, because we all come from somewhere, especially here in Israel.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Israel
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On my parents scale of values, the more Western something was, the more cultured it was considered.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Parent
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The minute we leave south Lebanon we will have to erase the word Hezbollah from our vocabulary, because the whole idea of the State of Israel versus Hezbollah was sheer folly from the outset. It most certainly no longer will be relevant when Israel returns to her internationally recognized northern border.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Vocabulary
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If you change your diet, someone will call you a traitor.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Traitor
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We all begin much much much earlier. In fact, every one of us - every nation, every individual begins hundreds, perhaps thousands of years prior to the date that appears in the passport.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Individual
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Dreams fulfilled are imperfect.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Dream
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Literature may make the reader reexamine some of his or her own conventions, look at himself or herself in a different way, look at others in a different way. This goes way beyond just making statements or manifesting principles.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Principles
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The alternative to fanaticism and to death is not some miraculous realization that someone has been wrong and he has to apologize. No, the answer to fanaticism and to death is curiosity and compromise and concession.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Curiosity
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I write about reconciliation, but not as a miracle, as a slow, gradual process of mutual discovery - discovering one another.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Writing
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Over 70 years after Hitler, a German chancellor, a woman, is the leader of the free world. So don't talk to me about irrevocable.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Years
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The only way to keep a dream, any dream at all, to keep a dream perfect and rosy and intact and unsullied is never to live it out. The moment you carry out any of your dreams or your fantasies - travel around the world, climbing a high mountain, buying a new house, writing a novel, carrying out a sexual fantasy, traveling to an unknown country - the moment you carry out your dreams, it's always, by definition less perfect and rosy than it had been as a dream. This is the nature of dreams.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Dream
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Every decent man had to be against fascism, period.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Men
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Compromise is not popular. It's not at all popular among young people who these days call themselves "activists." They think compromises are dishonest, opportunistic, humiliating. Not in my vocabulary.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Thinking
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In writing a novel, the writer must be able to identify emotionally and intellectually with two or three or four contradicting perspectives and give each of them very a convincing voice. It's like playing tennis with yourself and you have to be on both sides of the yard. You have to be on both sides, or all sides if there are more than two sides.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Writing
Image of Amos Oz
Literature exists inside the language. It's made of words. It's not made of ideas and it's not made of concepts, of psychological analysis. It's made of words. In the same way in which music is made of notes and a painting is made of lines of colors, the matter of literature are words.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Literature
Image of Amos Oz
It is wrong to take an 18-year-old boy or girl and arm them with machine guns and make them the almighty king of some little Arab village. No young man, and no old man either, should have so much power over the life and death of so many helpless individuals. It is corrupting. It sometimes provokes desperate, savage and indiscriminate violence among the occupied.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Girl
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I'm a great believer in compromise. I know it's not popular among young idealists. Compromise is not popular. It's not at all popular among young people who these days call themselves "activists." They think compromises are dishonest, opportunistic, humiliating. Not in my vocabulary. In my vocabulary, the word "compromise" is synonymous to the word "life".
- Amos Oz
Collection: Thinking
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D.H. Lawrence, I think, defined the difference between writing an article and writing a novel very well. He said, in writing a novel, the writer must be able to identify emotionally and intellectually with two or three or four contradicting perspectives and give each of them very a convincing voice. It's like playing tennis with yourself and you have to be on both sides of the yard. You have to be on both sides, or all sides if there are more than two sides.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Writing
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When I need to take a side, I write a newspaper article and I tell my government, "You should not do that, you should do this." They don't listen to me, but I've been doing this for sixty years now. But, when I write a novel, I am not in that business. I follow the way people change. I follow the way people, who are very antagonized to one another become very close to one another and vice-versa. Sometimes I follow the way people who are intimately close to each other move apart.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Moving
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In fact, every one of us - every nation, every individual begins hundreds, perhaps thousands of years prior to the date that appears in the passport.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Years
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Israel is a fulfilled dream. Nothing that exists here existed here a hundred years ago.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Dream
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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a tragedy; it is a clash between right and right. And, therefore it's not black and white. Sometimes, recently it is indeed a clash between wrong and wrong. It is not as simple as fascism was.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Black And White
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When people have peace, they hate it and long for excitement, and when they have excitement, they want peace.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Hate
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Imagination needs food like every dog and every cat and every bird and every fish.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Dog
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Never cut loose from your longings.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Cutting
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… that sour blend of loneliness and lust for recognition, shyness and extravagance, deep insecurity and self-intoxicated egomania, that drives poets and writers out of their rooms to seek each other out, to rub shoulders with one another, bully, joke, condescend, feel each other, lay a hand on a shoulder or an arm round a waist, to chat and argue with little nudges, to spy a little, sniff out what is cooking in other pots, flatter, disagree, collude, be right, take offence, apologise, make amends, avoid each other, and seek each other’s company again.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Loneliness
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The Old Testament is full of poetry, prophecies, chronicles, documentations, storytelling, fairytales.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Documentation
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Literature belongs first and foremost to the language in which it is being written. The very same book, even if it is translated very accurately, let's say from Hebrew into English or from English into Hebrew, becomes a different book because language is a musical instrument.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Book
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The gift of literature is that, in some lucky cases, reading a novel or a story makes the reader more curious, more open-minded.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Reading
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She had not wanted him to but had let him have his way because ever since she was a child she had generally yielded before anyone with strong willpower, especially if it was a man, not because she was naturally submissive, but because strong male willpower gave her a feeling of safety and trust, together with acceptance and a desire to give in.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Strong
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There is a document in every novel in the world. Even in the most fantastic novel, even in science fiction, there is a documentary side. But, this side is not the crux of the matter. I don't think a novel's main donation, main gift, is the document. The document is there, but a novel goes beyond documentation. It goes into opening a new vista, opening a new perspective, showing familiar things in an unfamiliar way.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Thinking
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I want Israel to live in peace with its neighbors and in peace with itself.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Israel
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I don't believe in binational states. There are wonderful examples of this, prosperous multinational states: Switzerland, Switzerland and Switzerland. Everywhere else - be it Cyprus, Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union, it ended in a terrible bloodbath.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Believe
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Many intellectuals in America and in Europe, they are in the habit of taking sides: who are the bad guys? who are the good guys? They launch a demonstration against the bad guys, sign a petition in favor of the good guys, and going to sleep feeling well about themselves.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Sleep
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The reconciliation is not based on the fact that one of the characters opens his eyes and says, "O brother! O sister! How terrible I was! How right and wonderful you were! Please forgive me! Let's hug and love each other from now until the rest of eternity!" This is not the kind of reconciliation I write about; I write about sad, sober, sometimes heart-breaking compromises.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Brother
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Of course, we carry inside of ourselves our parents. Even when they are dead, we carry them inside ourselves. And they are carrying inside themselves their dead parents and so on and so forth. There is a legacy of language and culture and religion.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Parent
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No human being really begins on the day which appears in the passport as their date of birth. We all begin much much much earlier.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Being Real
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That's my gutsy advice to any young writer: write only about what you know well.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Writing
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We have to carry through to the next day and hope that we will be okay tomorrow as we are today and in the meantime, enjoy life.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Next Day
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I don't think Israelis are less critical of corruption than people in Italy, France or America. Israel is special in a different way. There is a daytime Israel and a nighttime Israel. The first is self-confident, pushy and passionate, like other Mediterranean lands. It is hedonistic, materialistic and almost arrogant. During the nighttime, people are terrified, people are filled with existential dreads. These fears aren't baseless.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Thinking
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I would love to leave my children and grandchildren a nicer world than the one I am going to leave them. But bearing in mind that I was born in the world of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco, the legacy I leave them might not be as terrible as the legacy my parents and grandparents left to me.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Children
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Think about Elizabethan English, where the entire English language behaved pretty much like molten lava, like a volcano in mid-eruption. Modern Hebrew has some things in common with Elizabethan English. It is being reshaped and it's expanding very rapidly in various directions.
- Amos Oz
Collection: Thinking