Joan Didion quotes: 13 of her most moving lines

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  • The bestselling writer, author and living legend: Her words cannot fail to make you stop and think.

    Here are a few of our favouite Joan Didion quotes. The ones that made us feel that little bit less alone in the world.

    ‘Innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself.’ Joan on self-respect

    ‘Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.’ The Year of Magical Thinking, 2005

    ‘Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.’ Blue Nights, 2011

    ‘We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.’ The Year of Magical Thinking, 2005

    ‘I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.’ Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 1968

    ‘Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.’ The Year of Magical Thinking, 2005

    ‘There’s a point when you go with what you’ve got. Or you don’t go.’ The Paris Review, fall-winter 1978

    ‘One of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before.’ Goodbye To All That, 1967

    ‘There is no really way to deal with everything we lose.’ Where I Was From, 2003

    ‘We tell ourselves stories in order to live.’ The White Album, 1979

    ‘I know what the fear is. The fear is not for what is lost. What is lost is already in the wall. What is lost is already behind the locked door. The fear is for what is still to be lost.’ Blue Nights, 2011

    ‘I did not always think he was right nor did he always think I was right, but we were each the person the other trusted.’ The Year of Magical Thinking, 2005

    ‘I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it.’ Commencement address at the University of California, Riverside, 1975

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