French Writer, Memoirist and Novelist
"One is happy as a result of one's own efforts, once one knows the necessary ingredients of happiness - simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self-denial top a point, love of work, and above all a clear conscience. Happiness is no vague dream, of that I now feel certain."
"Faith is an excitement and an enthusiasm: it is a condition of intellectual magnificence to which we must cling as to a treasure and not squander [in]... priggish argument. "
"Work is not man's punishment. It is his reward and his strength, his glory and his pleasure."
"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved. "
"Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness. "
"Simplicity is the most difficult thing to secure in this world; it is the last limit of experience and the last effort of genius. "
"Faith is an excitement and an enthusiasm: it is a condition of intellectual magnificence to which we must cling as to a treasure, and not squander on our way through life in the small coin of empty words, or in exact and priggish argument."
"A day will come when everything in my life will be changed, when I shall do good to others, when someone will love me, when I shall give my whole heart to the man which gives me his; meanwhile, you will suffer in silence and keep my love as a reward for him who shall set me free."
"A sweet voice, a little indistinct and muffled, which caresses and does not thrill; an utterance which glides on without emphasis, and lays stress on what is deeply felt."
"Art for the sake of art itself is an idle sentence. Art for the sake of truth, for the sake of what is beautiful and good — that is the creed I seek."
"Art for art’s sake is an empty phrase. Art for the sake of the true, art for the sake of the good and the beautiful, that is the faith I am searching for."
"A woman cannot love a man she feels to be her inferior; love without veneration and enthusiasm is only friendship."
"A man is not a wall, whose stones are crushed upon the road; or a pipe, whose fragments are thrown away at a street corner. The fragments of an intellect are always good."
"All of us who have time and money to spare, travel — that is to say, we flee; since surely it is not so much a question of travelling as of getting away? Which of us has not some sorrow to dull, or some yoke to cast off?"
"Be prudent, and if you hear some insult or some threat have the appearance of not hearing it."
"But if these people of the future are better than we are, they will, perhaps, look back at us with feelings of pity and tenderness for struggling souls who once divined a little of what the future would bring."
"Can one thus resume one's self? Can one know one's self? Is one ever somebody? I don't know anything about it anymore. It now seems to me that one changes from day to day and that every few years one becomes a new being."
"Butterflies are but flowers that blew away one sunny day when Nature was feeling at her most inventive and fertile."
"Fame and admiration weigh not a feather in the scale against friendship and love, for the heart languishes all the same."
"God has written in the law of nature that when two people are joined in love or friendship, one must always give his heart more perfectly than the other."
"Happiness lies in the consciousness we have of it, and by no means in the way the future keeps its promises."
"He who draws noble delights from sentiments of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life."
"He who finds elevated and lofty pleasures in the feeling of poetry is a true poet, though he has never composed a line of verse in his entire lifetime."
"God abandons only those who abandon themselves, and whoever has the courage to shut up his sorrow within his own heart is stronger to fight against it than he who complains."
"His genius [Chopin] was filled with the mysterious sounds of nature, but transformed into sublime equivalents in musical thought, and not through slavish imitation of the actual external sounds. His composition of that night was surely filled with raindrops, resounding clearly on the tiles of the Charterhouse, but it had been transformed in his imagination and in his song into tears falling upon his heart from the sky... The gift of Chopin is [the expression of] the deepest and fullest feelings and emotions that have ever existed. He made a single instrument speak a language of infinity. He could often sum up, in ten lines that a child could play, poems of a boundless exaltation, dramas of unequalled power."
"His creation was spontaneous, miraculous. He found it without searching for it, without foreseeing it. It came to his piano suddenly, complete, sublime, or it sang in his head during a walk, and he would hasten to hear it again by, tossing it off on his instrument. But then would begin the most heartbreaking labor I have ever witnessed. It was a series of efforts, indecision, and impatience to recapture certain details of the theme he had heard: what had come to him all of a piece, he now over-analyzed in his desire to write it down, and his regret at not finding it again "neat," as he said, would throw him into a kind of despair. He would shut himself up in his room for days at a time, weeping, pacing, breaking his pens, repeating and changing a single measure a hundred times, writing it and effacing it with equal frequency, and beginning again the next day with a meticulous and desperate perseverance. He would spend six weeks on one page, only to end up writing it just as he had traced it in his first outpouring."
"I ask the support of no one, neither to kill someone for me, gather a bouquet, correct a proof, nor to go with me to the theater. I go there on my own, as a man, by choice; and when I want flowers, I go on foot, by myself, to the Alps."
"I have never ceased to be young, if being young is always loving... Humanity is not a vain word. Our life is made of love, and to love no longer is to live no longer."
"I have an object, a task, let me say the word, a passion. The profession of writing is a violent and almost indestructible one."
"I love everything that makes up a milieu, the rolling of the carriages and the noise of the workmen in Paris, the cries of a thousand birds in the country, the movement of the ships on the waters. I love also absolute, profound silence, and, in short, I love everything that is around me, no matter where I am."
"I regard as a mortal sin not only the lying of the senses in matters of love, but also the illusion which the senses seek to create where love is only partial. I say, I believe, that one must love with all of one's being, or else live, come what may, a life of complete chastity."
"I see upon their noble brows the seal of the Lord, for they were born kings of the earth far more truly than those who possess it only from having bought it."
"I loved [fairy stories] so, and my mother weighed down by grief had given up telling me them. At Nohant I found Mmes. d'Ardony's and Perrault's tales in old editions which became my chief joy for five or six years... I've never read them since, but I could tell each tale straight through, and I don't think anything in all one's intellectual life can be compared to these delights of imagination."
"I was born to love - but none of you wanted to believe it, and that misunderstanding was crucial in forming my character. It's true that nature was strangely inconsistent in giving me a warm heart, but also a face that was like a stone mask and a tongue that was heavy and slow. She refused me what she bestowed freely on even the most loutish of my fellow men… People judged my inner character by my outer covering, and like a sterile fruit, I withered under the rough husk I couldn't slough off."
"If they are ignorant, they are despised, if learned, mocked. In love they are reduced to the status of courtesans. As wives they are treated more as servants than as companions. Men do not love them: they make use of them, they exploit them, and expect, in that way, to make them subject to the law of fidelity."