GAO XINGJIAN QUOTES

Chinese novelist & playwright (1940- )

Everybody can write poetry, just like everybody knows how to make love.

GAO XINGJIAN, The Other Shore

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Tags: poetry


Dreams are more real than reality itself, they're closer to the self.

GAO XINGJIAN, Dialogue and Rebuttal

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Tags: dreams


The human species does not necessarily move in stages from progress to progress ... history and civilization do not advance in tandem. From the stagnation of Medieval Europe to the decline and chaos in recent times on the mainland of Asia and to the catastrophes of two world wars in the twentieth century, the methods of killing people became increasingly sophisticated. Scientific and technological progress certainly does not imply that humankind as a result becomes more civilized.

GAO XINGJIAN, Nobel Lecture, 2000

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Tags: progress


The human need for language is not simply for the transmission of meaning, it is at the same time listening to and affirming a person's existence.

GAO XINGJIAN, "An Interview with Gao Xingjian", BookBrowse

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Tags: language


Truth refuses to be subservient to either politics or the market.

GAO XINGJIAN, "Literature as Testimony: The Search for Truth", Witness Literature: Proceedings of the Nobel Centennial Symposium

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Tags: truth


Man tends to think that he is a creator, that he is like God. This is especially true of intellectuals, and in the last century, intellectuals tended to forget that they were like everyone else. Writing this book was a description of man going from a state of God back to a state of man, back to being a normal person.

GAO XINGJIAN, "A Conversation with Gao Xingjian", Asia Society

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Everybody is wearing a mask. It's in literature that true life can be found. It's under the mask of fiction that you can tell the truth.

GAO XINGJIAN, The Guardian, Aug. 1, 2008

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To subvert is not the aim of literature, its value lies in discovering and revealing what is rarely known, little known, thought to be known but in fact not very well known of the truth of the human world. It would seem that truth is the unassailable and most basic quality of literature.

GAO XINGJIAN, Nobel Lecture, 2000

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Tags: literature


When you're telling a story, you've got to give details.

GAO XINGJIAN, Dialogue and Rebuttal

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Tags: writing


Maybe there isn't a God after all, maybe there's only a universe rotating by itself like a millstone.

GAO XINGJIAN, The Other Shore

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Tags: God


Everyone has to have either this or that problem, if he can't find any problem, he loses all reason for living.

GAO XINGJIAN, Nocturnal Wanderer

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Walk where your heart leads you, there are no restrictions and no burdens.

GAO XINGJIAN, Nocturnal Wanderer

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You contemplate and you wander without any worries, between heaven and earth, in your own private world, and in this way you acquire supreme freedom.

GAO XINGJIAN, Nocturnal Wanderer

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Tags: freedom


Once the buttons are undone, you know how it'll all end. It's all in the game, there are no miracles.

GAO XINGJIAN, Weekend Quartet

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Tags: sex


If everyone is a hero, then disasters and atrocities lose their meaning. It's only when certain people are heroes and others are not that these tragedies and disasters that mankind faces take on meaning.

GAO XINGJIAN, "A Conversation with Gao Xingjian", Asia Society

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Tags: heroes


It was not that he didn't remember he once had another sort of life. But, like the old yellowing photograph at home, which he did not burn, it was sad to think about, and far away, like another world that had disappeared forever.

GAO XINGJIAN, One Man's Bible

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Tags: memory


In the end all you can achieve are memories, hazy, intangible, dreamlike memories which are impossible to articulate. When you try to relate them, there are only sentences, the dregs left from the filter of linguistic structures.

GAO XINGJIAN, Soul Mountain

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Loneliness is a prerequisite for freedom. Freedom depends on the ability to reflect, and reflection can only begin when one is alone.

GAO XINGJIAN, speech presented on receiving the Golden Plate Award at the Forty-first International Achievement Summit of the American Academy of Achievement, Jun. 8, 2002

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Tags: loneliness


The enterprise of describing something in language that has never been described before is a very difficult thing to do. When you decide to do away with old cliches or old phraseologies, and to come up with a new way of saying something, it's extremely difficult.

GAO XINGJIAN, "A Conversation with Gao Xingjian", Asia Society

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I don't want to be a strong hero who can save society. I just want to save myself.

GAO XINGJIAN, The Guardian, Aug. 1, 2008

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