Quotes from Atonement

Ian McEwan ·  351 pages

Rating: (381.3K votes)


“A person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not easily mended.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“It wasn't only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“The cost of oblivious daydreaming was always this moment of return, the realignment with what had been before and now seemed a little worse. ”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“Was everyone else really as alive as she was?... If the answer was yes, then the world, the social world, was unbearably complicated, with two billion voices, and everyone’s thoughts striving in equal importance and everyone’s claim on life as intense, and everyone thinking they were unique, when no one was. One could drown in irrelevance.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“...falling in love could be achieved in a single word—a glance.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“A story was a form of telepathy. By means of inking symbols onto a page, she was able to send thoughts and feelings from her mind to her reader's. It was a magical process, so commonplace that no one stopped to wonder at it.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“Find you, love you, marry you, and live without shame.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“And though you think the world is at your feet, it can rise up and tread on you.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“Wasn't writing a kind of soaring, an achievable form of flight, of fancy, of the imagination?”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“I've never had a moment's doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one. My reason for life. Cee”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“She lay in the dark and knew everything.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“Finally he spoke the three simple words that no amount of bad art or bad faith can every quite cheapen. She repeated them, with exactly the same slight emphasis on the second word, as though she were the one to say them first. He had no religious belief, but it was impossible not to think of an invisible presence or witness in the room, and that these words spoken aloud were like signatures on an unseen contract.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“The anticipation and dread he felt at seeing her was also a kind of sensual pleasure, and surrounding it, like an embrace, was a general elation--it might hurt, it was horribly inconvenient, no good might come of it, but he had found out for himself what it was to be in love, and it thrilled him.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“Now and then, an inch below the water's surface, the muscles of his stomach tightened involuntarily as he recalled another detail. A drop of water on her upper arm. Wet. An embroidered flower, a simple daisy, sewn between the cups of her bra. Her breasts wide apart and small. On her back, a mole half covered by a strap. When she climbed out of the pond a glimpse of the triangular darkness her knickers were supposed to conceal. Wet. He saw it, he made himself see it again. The way her pelvic bones stretched the material clear of the skin, the deep curve of her waist, her startling whiteness. When she reached for her skirt, a carelessly raised foot revealed a patch of soil on each pad of her sweetly diminished toes. Another mole the size of a farthing on her thigh and something purplish on her calf--a strawberry mark, a scar. Not blemishes. Adornments.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“There did not have to be a moral. She need only show separate minds, as alive as her own, struggling with the idea that other minds were equally alive. It wasn't only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding, above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you. And only in a story could you enter these different minds and show how they had an equal value. That was the only moral a story need have.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“How can a novelist achieve atonement when, with her absolute power of deciding outcomes, she is also God? There is no one, no entity or higher form that she can appeal to, or be reconciled with, or that can forgive her. There is nothing outside her. In her imagination she has set the limits and the terms. No atonement for God, or novelists, even if they are atheists. It was always an impossible task, and that was precisely the point. The attempt was all.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“It was not generally realized that what children mostly wanted was to be left alone.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“come back, come back to me”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“In my dreams I kiss your cunt, your sweet wet cunt. In my thoughts I make love to you all day long.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“How guilt refined the methods of self-torture, threading the beads of detail into an eternal loop, a rosary to be fingered for a lifetime.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“But what really happened? The answer is simple: the lovers survive and flourish.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“He knew these last lines by heart and mouthed them now in the darkness. My reason for life. Not living, but life. That was the touch. And she was his reason for life, and why he must survive.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“Dearest Cecilia, You’d be forgiven for thinking me mad, the way I acted this afternoon. The truth is I feel rather light headed and foolish in your presence, Cee, and I don’t think I can blame the heat.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“That love which does not build a foundation on good sense is doomed.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“And now she was back in the world, not one she could make, but the one that had made her, and she felt herself shrinking under the early evening sky. She was weary of being outdoors, but she was not ready to go in. Was that really all there was in life, indoors or out? Wasn't there somewhere else for people to go?”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“From this new and intimate perspective, she learned a simple, obvious thing she had always known, and everyone knew; that a person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn, not easily mended.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“At that moment, the urge to be writing was stronger than any notion she had of what she might write.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“Not everything people did could be in a correct, logical order, especially when they were alone.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“These were everyday sounds magnified by darkness. And darkness was nothing - it was not a substance, it was not a presence, it was no more than an absence of light.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


“Nothing that can be, can come between me and the full prospect of my hopes.”
― Ian McEwan, quote from Atonement


About the author

Ian McEwan
Born place: in Aldershot, England, The United Kingdom
Born date June 21, 1948
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