French Symbolist Poet, Novelist, and Influential Critic
Remy de Gourmont
French Symbolist Poet, Novelist, and Influential Critic
Those men who live with the greatest intensity are often the ones who seem to take least interest in life.
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.
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.
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.
It was an accident that has endowed man with intelligence. He has made use of it: he invented stupidity.
La Nebuleuse is a poem of lovely and deep perspective, where, symbolized by artless beings, are seen the successive generations of men following each other uncomprehendingly, almost undiscerningly, so different are their souls, and always summed up, to the moment of their decline, by the child, the future, the nebula, whose birth, finally confirmed, brings death. Under its morning clearness, to the faded smiles of aged stars. And, the vision ended, it is urged that this morrow, which is becoming today, will be altogether likes its dead brothers, and that in short there is nothing new in the spectacle which amuses the dead years leaning?
But this nothingness has no importance for the human atoms that form and determine it; it is the delightful newness that we breathe and of which we live. The new! The new! And let each intelligence, though short-lived, affirm his will to exist, and to be dissimilar to all antecedent or surrounding manifestations, and let each nebula aspire to the character of a star whose light shall be distinct and clear among other lights.
Man can no more see the world than a fish can see the river bank.
Chastity is the most unnatural of the sexual perversions.
Man has made use of his intelligence, he invented stupidity.
Deprived of the infinite, man has become what he always was: a supernumerary.
Man is an animal that arrived; that is all.