French Symbolist Poet, Novelist, and Influential Critic
Remy de Gourmont
French Symbolist Poet, Novelist, and Influential Critic
Those who do not carry within them the soul of everything the world can show them, will do well to watch it: they will not recognize it, each thing being beautiful only according to the thought of him who gazes at it and reflects it in himself. Faith is essential in poetry as in religion, and faith has no need of seeing with corporeal eyes to contemplate that which it recognizes much better in itself.
To acquire the full consciousness of self is to know oneself so different from others that no longer feels allied with men except by purely animal contacts: nevertheless, among souls of this degree, there is an ideal fraternity based on differences,--while society fraternity is based on resemblances.
To ameliorate and raise the standard of the workingmen to the bourgeois level, is perhaps to create a race of slaves content with their lot,-a cast of comfortable Pariahs.
To have a solid foundation of skepticism, -that is to say, the faculty of changing at any moment, of turning back, of facing successively the metamorphoses of life.
To write well, to have style ... is to paint. The master faculty of style is therefore the visual memory. If a writer does not see what he describes?countrysides and figures, movements and gestures?how could he have a style, that is originality?
Well, suppose we remain upon earth, after all? Suppose we bravely accept the death of our dreams at the same time as the death of our bodies? This beyond is decidedly uncertain, quite vague and mobile. I do not believe that it exists everywhere; I believe that it is nowhere except in our infantile imaginations. Born with us, it will end at the same moment that we do, to be born anew in our posterity. The beyond is the earthly tomorrow, as we bequeath it to our heirs and as they modify it by their efforts and in accordance with their tastes.
Those men who live with the greatest intensity are often the ones who seem to take least interest in life.
Such ideas were many times, under multiple forms, always new, expressed by Villiers de L'Isle-Adam in his works. Without going as far as Berkley's pure negations, which nevertheless are but the extreme logic of subjective idealism, he admitted in his conception of life, on the same plan, the Interior and the Exterior, Spirit and Matter, with a very visible tendency to give the first term domination over the second. For him the idea of progress was never anything but a subject for jest, together with the nonsense of the humanitarian positivists who teach, reversed mythology, that terrestrial paradise, a superstition if we assign it the past, becomes the sole legitimate hope if we place it in the future.
Tears flow and smiles fade to the same rhythm of life, to disappear together in the bottomless abyss.
The full consciousness of self can be called originality of soul, -and all this is said only to point out the group of rare beings to which Andre Gide belongs.
The greater part of a men who speak ill of women are speaking of a certain woman.
The little girl expects no declaration of tenderness from her doll. She loves it, and that's all. It is thus that we should love.
The man of genius may dwell unknown, but one always may recognize the path he has followed into the forest. It was a giant who passed that way. The branches are broken at a height that other men cannot reach.
The misfortune of these beings, when they express themselves, is that they do it with such odd gestures that men fear to approach them; their life of social contacts must often revolve in the brief circle of ideal fraternities; or, when the mob consents to admit such souls, it is as curiosities or museum objects. Their glory is, finally, to be loved from afar and almost understood, as parchments are seen and read above sealed cases.
The only excuse a man has for writing is that he express himself, that he reveal to others the kind of world reflected in the mirror of his soul; his only excuse is that he be original.
The snow kept on falling, and penetrated so deeply into her prone body that she had no other feeling than that of wanting to die, buried under these adorable snow kisses, to be embalmed in the snow - and then to be swept off, in a final gust, to the land of eternal snow, to the fabled infinite mountains where the darling little adultresses lie in a perpetual swoon, ceaselessly and firmly caressed by all the perverse angels.
The woman who loves always smells good.
He was a young man of savage and unexpected originality, a diseased genius and quite frankly, a mad genius. Imbeciles grow insane and in their insanity the imbecility remains stagnant or agitated; in the madness of a man of genius some genius often remains: the form and not the quality of intelligence has been affected; the fruit has been bruised in the fall, but has preserved all its perfume and all the savor of its pulp, hardly too ripe.
Money which is liberty, is also fecundation. It is the universal sperm without which human societies would remain but barren wombs. Paganism, which knew and understood everything, opens to a shower of gold from on high the conquered thighs of Danae. That is what we should see on our coins, instead of a meaningless head, if we were capable of contemplating without embarrassment that religious tableau.
How many contradictions! Eh! If I loaded my wagon all on the same side, I'd tumble it over.
Nothing is better for spiritual advancement and the detachment of the flesh than a close reading of the Erotic Dictionary.
Intelligence is perhaps but a malady,-a beautiful malady; the oyster's pearl.
Nothing returns, nothing begins anew; it is never the same thing, and yet it seems always the same. For, if the days never return, every moment brings forth new beings whose destiny it will be to create for themselves, in the course of their lives, the same illusions that have companioned and at times illuminated ours. The fabric is eternal; eternal, the embroidery. A universe dies when we die; another is born when a new creature comes to earth with a new sensibility. If, then, it is very true that nothing begins all over again, it is very just to say, too, that everything continues. One may fearlessly advance the latter statement or the former, according to whether one considers the individual or the blending of generations. From this second point of view, everything is coexistent; the same cause produces contradictory, yet logical effects. All the colors and their shades are printed at a single impression, to form the wonderful image we call life.
It appears, from all this, that our eyes are uncertain. Two persons look at the same clock and there is a difference of two or three minutes in their reading of the time. One has a tendency to put back the hands, the other to advance them. Let us not too confidently try to play the part of the third person who wishes to set the first two aright; it may well happen that we are mistaken in turn. Besides, in our daily life, we have less need of certainty than of a certain approximation to certainty. Let us learn how to see, but without looking too closely at things and men: they look better from a distance.
On the contrary, he makes a protagonist (Edison doubtless) say in a short fragment of an old manuscript of l'Eve future: We are in the ripe age of Humanity, that is all! Soon will come the senility and decrepitude of this strange polyp, and the evolution accomplished, his mortal return to the mysterious laboratory where all the Ghosts eternally work their experiments, by grace of some unquestionable necessity.