Georges Duhamel, Pen name Denis Thevenin

Duhamel, Pen name Denis Thevenin

French Author, Playwright, Illegitimate Son of Alexandre Dumas the Novelist

Author Quotes

Do not trust your memory, it is a net full of holes; the most beautiful prizes slip through it.

Today Death is closely bound up with the things of life. And this is true, not so much because its daily operations are on a vast scale, because it chooses the youngest and the healthiest among us, because it has become a kind of sacred institution, but more especially because it has become a thing so ordinary that it no longer causes us to suspend our usual activities, as it used to do: we eat and drink beside the dead, we sleep amidst the dying, we laugh and sing in the company of corpses.

I can no longer think what I want to think. My thoughts have been replaced by moving images.

We can know nothing till after this grave debate. The soul must withdraw, for this is not its hour. Now the knife must divide the flesh, and lay the ravage bare, and do its work completely.

I have too much respect for the idea of God to make it responsible for such an absurd world.

In the beds which the piety of the public has prepared on every side, stricken men await the verdict of fate.

In these days, when nothing retains its former semblance, all these men are no longer those you so lately knew. Suffering has roused them from the sleep of gentle life, and every day fills them with a terrible intoxication. They are now something more than themselves; those we loved were merely happy shadows.

It is always brave to say what everyone thinks.

Let us lose none of their humble words, let us note their slightest gestures, and tell me, tell me that we will think of them together, now and later, when we realise the misery of the times and the magnitude of their sacrifice.

No doubt about it: error is the rule, truth is the accident of error.

Sometimes he comes up out of the depths and speaks. He talks of death with an imaginative lucidity which sounds like actual experience. Sometimes he sees it.... And as he gazes, his pupils suddenly distend. But he will not, he cannot make up his mind.... He wants to suffer a little longer.

Suffering has roused them from the sleep of gentle life, and every day fills them with a terrible intoxication. They are now something more than themselves; those we loved were merely happy shadows.

The brave man never lacks clothes.

The burden of experience is a sorrowful one. It is always sorrowful to have sufficient memory to discern the future.

But lately, Death was no part of life. We talked of it covertly. Its image was at once painful and indecent, calculated to upset the plans and projects of existence. It worked as far as possible in obscurity, silence and retirement. We disguised it with symbols; we announced it in laborious paraphrases, marked by a kind of shame.

The grief he had suppressed for months overflowed, or rather, rushed out in desperate, heartrending lamentations.

But lately, Death was the cruel stranger, the stealthy-footed visitor... Now, it is the romping dog of the house.

The novelist is the historian of the present. The historian is the novelist of the future.

Death has already laid a disfiguring hand on Mercier. "Stay by me.” Yes, I will stay by you, and hold your hand. Is there nothing more I can do for you? His nostrils quiver. It is hard to have been wretched for forty years, and to have to give up the humble hope of smelling the pungent scent of the juniper-bushes once more... His lips contract, and then relax gradually, so sadly. It is hard to have suffered for forty years, and to be unable to quench one's last thirst with the wonderful waters of our mountain springs... Now the dark sweat gathers again on the hollow brow. Oh, it is hard to die after forty years of toil, without ever having had leisure to wipe the sweat from a brow that has always been bent over one's work. The sacrifice is immense, and we cannot choose our hour; we must make it as soon as we hear the voice that demands it. The man must lay down his tools and say: "Here I am." Oh, how hard it is to leave this life of unceasing toil and sorrow! The eyes still smile feebly. They smile to the last moment. He speaks no more. He breathes no more. The heart throbs wildly, then stops dead like a foundered horse. Mercier is dead. The pupils of his eyes are solemnly distended upon a glassy abyss. All is over. I have not saved him... Then from those dead eyes great tears ooze slowly and flow upon his cheeks. I see his features contract as if to weep throughout eternity. I keep the dead hand still clasped in mine for several long minutes.

The swimmer adrift on the open seas measures his strength, and strives with all his muscles to keep himself afloat. But what is he to do when there is no land on the horizon, and none beyond it?

Death remains a great thing, but one with which one's relations have become frequent and intimate. Like the king who shows himself at his toilet, Death is still powerful, but it has become familiar and slightly degraded.

There is no French town in which the wounds inflicted on the battle-field are not bleeding.

We do not know the true value of our moments until they have undergone the test of memory.

Great ideas have such radiant strength. They cross space and time like avalanches: they carry along with them whatever they touch. They are the only riches that one shares without ever dividing them.

It is strange what a contempt men have for the joys that are offered them freely.

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Duhamel, Pen name Denis Thevenin
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French Author, Playwright, Illegitimate Son of Alexandre Dumas the Novelist