It’s hard to communicate anything exactly and that’s why perfect relationships between people are difficult to find.
Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.
Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.
There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it
One can be the master of what one does, but never of what one feels.
We must laugh and cry, enjoy and suffer, in a word, vibrate to our full capacity … I think that’s what being really human means.
But, in her life, nothing was going to happen. Such was the will of God! The future was a dark corridor, and at the far end the door was bolted.
God is only a word dreamed up to explain the world
I invite all brats to throw their cookies at the baker’s head if they’re not sweet, winos to chuck their wine if it’s bad, the dying to shuck their souls when they croak, and men to throw their existence in God’s face when it’s bitter
To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.
Maybe happiness too is a metaphor invented on a day of boredom
As for the piano, the faster her fingers flew over it, the more he marveled. She struck the keys with aplomb and ran from one end of the keyboard to the other without a stop.
How we keep these dead souls in our hearts. Each one of us carries within himself his necropolis.
He dreamed of funeral love, but dreams crumble and the tomb abides
I grew up in a hospital and as a child I played in the dissecting room
The smooth folds of her dress concealed a tumultuous heart, and her modest lips told nothing of her torment. She was in love.
What wretched poverty of language! To compare stars to diamonds!
I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.
An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.
Writing is a dog’s life, but the only one worth living.
The public wants work which flatters its illusions.
When you reduce a woman to writing, she makes you think of a thousand other women
In my view, the novelist has no right to express his opinions on the things of this world. In creating, he must imitate God: do his job and then shut up.
One day, I shall explode like an artillery shell and all my bits will be found on the writing table.
My foregrounds are imaginary, my backgrounds real.
Come, let’s be calm: no one incapable of restraint was ever a writer.
The writer must wade into life as into the sea, but only up to the navel.
There comes a point at which you stop writing and think all the more
In his earliest youth, he had drawn inspiration from really bad authors, as you may have seen from his style; as he grew older, he lost his taste for them, but the excellent authors just didn’t fill him with the same enthusiasm
It seems to me, alas, that if you can so thoroughly dissect your children who are still to be born, you don’t get horny enough to actually to father them.
The artist must manage to make posterity believe that he never existed.
You don’t know what it is to stay a whole day with your head in your hands trying to squeeze your unfortunate brain so as to find a word.
But that which fanaticism formerly promised to the elect, science now accomplishes for all men.
Doubt … is an illness that comes from knowledge and leads to madness.
An infinity of passion can be contained in one minute, like a crowd in a small space.
Sometimes, in a daze, they completely dismantled the cadaver, then found themselves hard put to it to fit the pieces together again.
The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.
Let us not kid ourselves; let us remember that literature is of no use whatever, except in the very special case of somebody’s wishing to become, of all things, a Professor of Literature.
By trying to understand everything, everything makes me dream
Thought is the greatest of pleasures —pleasure itself is only imagination—have you ever enjoyed anything more than your dreams?
How badly arranged the world is. What is the purpose of ugliness, suffering, sadness? Why our powerless dreams? Why everything?
The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletariat to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeoisie.
He had carefully avoided her out of the natural cowardice that characterizes the stronger sex.
Everyone, either from modesty or egotism, hides away the best and most delicate of his soul’s possessions; to gain the esteem of others, we must only ever show our ugliest sides; this is how we keep ourselves on the common level
The morality of art consists, for everyone, in the side that flatters its own interests. People do not like literature.
…those works that don’t touch the heart, it seems to me, miss the true aim of Art.
Abstraction can provide stumbling blocks for people of strange intelligence.
Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
I tried to discover, in the rumor of forests and waves, words that other men could not hear, and I pricked up my ears to listen to the revelation of their harmony.
People believe a little too easily that the function of the sun is to help the cabbages along.
…and the country is like a great unfolded mantle with a green velvet cape bordered with a fringe of silver.
She was as sated with him as he was tired of her. Emma had rediscovered in adultery all the banality of marriage.
Of all the icy blasts that blow on love, a request for money is the most chilling.
Financial demands, of all the rough winds that blow upon our love, (are) quite the coldest and the most biting.
Are the days of winter sunshine just as sad for you, too? When it is misty, in the evenings, and I am out walking by myself, it seems to me that the rain is falling through my heart and causing it to crumble into ruins.
Contact with the world, with which I have been steadily rubbing shoulders now for fourteen months, makes me feel more and more like returning to my shell. I hate the crowd, the herd. It seems to me always atrociously stupid or vile.
And she felt as though she had been there, on that bench, for an eternity. For an infinity of passion can be contained in one minute, like a crowd in a small space.
One’s duty is to feel what is great, cherish the beautiful, and not accept all the conventions of society with the ignominy that it imposes upon us.
On certain occasions art can shake very ordinary spirits, and whole worlds can be revealed by its clumsiest interpreters.
Alas! It seems to me that when one is as good as this at dissecting children who are to born, one can’t stiffen up enough to create them.
The world is going to become bloody stupid and from now on will be a very boring place. We’re lucky to be living now.
So long as there is gold underneath, who cares about the dust on top? Literature! That old whore! We must try to dose her with mercury and pills and clean her out from top to bottom, she has been so ultra-screwed by filthy pricks!
Indeed, for the last three years, he had carefully avoided her, as a result of the natural cowardice so characteristic of the stronger sex…
Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.
It is always sad to leave a place to which one knows one will never return. Such are the melancolies du voyage: perhaps they are one of the most rewarding things about traveling.
Travel, leave everything, copy the birds. The home is one of civilization’s sadnesses.
Perhaps she would have liked to confide all these things to someone. But how tell an undefinable uneasiness, variable as the clouds, unstable as the winds? Words failed her—the opportunity, the courage.
At last she sighed.”But the most wretched thing — is it not? — is to drag out, as I do, a useless existence. If our pains were only of some use to someone, we should find consolation in the thought of the sacrifice.
Self-confidence depends on environment: one does not speak in the same tone in the drawing room than in the kitchen.
What a man Balzac would have been if he had known how to write.
Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.
And the more he was irritated by her basic personality, the more he was drawn to her by a harsh, bestial sensuality, illusions of a moment, which ended in hate.
He had the vanity to believe men did not like him – while men simply did not know him.
But vilifying those we love always detaches us from them a little. We should not touch our idols: their gilding will remain on our hands.
Idols must never be touched: the gilt will come off on our hands.
Just when the gods had ceased to be, and the Christ had not yet come, there was a unique moment in history, between Cicero and Marcus Aurelius, when man stood alone.
Haven’t you ever happened to come across in a book some vague notion that you’ve had, some obscure idea that returns from afar and that seems to express completely your most subtle feelings?
Judge the goodness of a book by the energy of the punches it has given you. I believe the greatest characteristic of genius, is, above all, force.
Talent is a long patience, and originality an effort of will and intense observation.
I have patience in all things – as far as the antechamber.
Charles went to kiss her shoulder.-Leave me alone! she said, you’re creasing my dress.
Some details escaped her, but the regret remained with her.
Has it ever happened to you,” Léon went on, “to come across some vague idea of one’s own in a book, some dim image that comes to you from afar, and as the completest expression of your own slightest sentiment?
Having no intercourse with anyone, she lived in the torpid state of a sleep-walker.
Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
You need a high degree of corruption or a very big heart to love absolutely everything
Pleasures, like schoolboys in a school courtyard, had so trampled upon his heart that no green thing grew there, and that which passed through it, more heedless than children, did not even, like them, leave a name carved upon the wall.
Not a lawyer but carries within him the debris of a poet.
Doesn’t it seem to you,” asked Madame Bovary, “that the mind moves more freely in the presence of that boundless expanse, that the sight of it elevates the soul and gives rise to thoughts of the infinite and the ideal?
Every notary carries about inside him the debris of a poet.
Human life is a sad show, undoubtedly; ugly, heavy and complex. Art has no other end, for people of feeling than to conjure away the burden and bitterness.
And so I will take back up my poor life, so plain and so tranquil, where phrases are adventures and the only flowers I gather are metaphors.
The artist, to my way of thinking, is a monstrosity, something outside nature.
Never touch your idols: the gilding will stick to your fin
Speech is a rolling-mill that always thins out the sentiment.
Is it not time to cry that the blind shall see, the deaf hear, the lame walk? But that which fanaticism formerly promised to its elect, science now accomplishes for all men.
Isn’t ‘not to be bored’ one of the principal goals of life?
But her life was as cold as an attic facing north; and boredom, like a silent spider, was weaving its web in the shadows, in every corner of her heart.
His eagerness had turned into a routine; he embraced her at the same time every day. It was a habit like any other, a favourite pudding after the monotony of dinner.
This haze of blood must subside, the palace must collapse under the weight of the riches it conceals, the orgy must finish and the time come to awaken.
For six months, then, Emma, at fifteen years of age, made her hands dirty with books from old lending libraries.
Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work.
Our ignorance of history makes us libel to our own times. People have always been like this.
Our ignorance of history makes us libel our own times. People have always been like this.
A good sentence in prose should be like a good line in poetry, unchangeable, as rhythmic, as sonorous.
When will someone write from the point of view of a joke, that is to say theway God sees events from above?
Love is a springtime plant that perfumes everything with its hope, even the ruins to which it clings.
I believe that if one always looked at the skies, one would end up with wings.
The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.
A friend who dies, it’s something of you who dies.
One mustn’t ask apple trees for oranges, France for sun, women for love, life for happiness.
Happiness is a monstrosity! Punished are those who seek it.
Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times.
Art requires neither complaisance nor politeness; nothing but faith, faith and freedom.
Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.
Life must be a constant education; one must learn everything, from speaking to dying.
The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments.
Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry.
All one’s inventions are true, you can be sure of that. Poetry is as exact a science as geometry.