Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Gustave Flaubert

French Writer, Western Novelist known for his first novel, Madame Bovary

"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."

"Formerly, people believed that the sugar cane alone yielded sugar; nowadays it is extracted from almost anything. It is the same with poetry. Let us draw it, no matter whence, for it lies everywhere, and in all things."

"A thing derided is a thing dead; a laughing man is stronger than a suffering man."

"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."

"To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost."

"As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use. "

"Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough. "

"Art requires neither complaisance nor politeness; nothing but faith, faith and freedom. "

"A friend who dies, it's something of you who dies."

"Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work."

"Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live."

"Here is true immorality: ignorance and stupidity; the devil is nothing but this."

"There is no truth. There is only perception. "

"You can calculate the worth of a man by the number of his enemies, and the importance of a work of art by the harm that is spoken of it."

"I have come to have the firm conviction that vanity is the basis of everything, and finally that what one calls conscience is only inner vanity. "

"Life must be a constant education; one must learn everything, from speaking to dying."

"Exuberance is better than taste."

"A clear day's warmth will often move a lass to stray in dreams of love."

"A good sentence in prose should be like a good line in poetry, unchangeable, as rhythmic, as sonorous."

"A mad idea seized her: he was gazing at her now! She was sure of it! She long to rush into his arms and seek refuge in his strength as in the very incarnation of love; she longed to cry: "Ravish me! Carry me off! Away from here! All my passion and all my dreams are yours ? yours alone!""

"A man, at least, is free; he can explore every passion, every land, overcome obstacles, taste the most distant pleasures. But a woman is continually thwarted. Inert and pliant at the same time, she must struggle against both the softness of her flesh and subjection to the law. Her will, like the veil tied to her hat by a string, flutters with every breeze; there is always some desire luring her on, some convention holding her back."

"A man is a critic when he cannot be an artist, in the same way that a man becomes an informer when he cannot be a soldier."

"A rich woman seems to have all her banknotes about her, guarding her virtue, like a cuirass, in the lining of her corset."

"A memory is a beautiful thing, it's almost a desire that you miss."

"Above it, on the second story, stood a castle-keep or donjon wrought in Savoy cake, surrounded with diminutive fortifications in angelica, almonds, raisins, and bits of orange; and finally, on the topmost level of all, which was nothing less than a verdant meadow where there were rocks with pools of jam and boats made out of nut-shells, was seen a little Cupid balancing himself on a chocolate swing, the posts of which were tipped with two real rosebuds."

"A wicked, reckless look shone in her blazing eyes, and, half-shutting her eyelids, she gave him a lascivious glance and tried to egg him on. And the young man felt himself weakening beneath the silent will-power of this woman who was prompting him to crime."

"A superhuman will is needed in order to write, and I am only a man."

"Abstraction can provide stumbling blocks for people of strange intelligence."

"Adultery, Emma was discovering, could be as banal as marriage."

"Accustomed to the calm aspects of things, she turned, instead, toward the more tumultuous. She loved the sea only for its storms, and greenery only when it grew up here and there among ruins. She needed to derive from things a sort of personal gain; and she rejected as useless everything that did not contribute to the immediate gratification of her heart, ? being by temperament more sentimental than artistic, in search of emotions and not landscapes."

"After a person dies, there is always something like a feeling of stupefaction, so difficult is it to comprehend this unexpected advent of nothingness and to resign oneself to believing it."

"After pushing forward some contemporary masters in the early portions of their career, the picture-dealer, a man of progressive ideas, had tried, while clinging to his artistic ways, to extend his pecuniary profits. His object was to emancipate the fine arts, to get the sublime at a cheap rate."

"Ah! In fact there are two moralities... The petty one, the conventional one, the one devised by men, that keeps changing and bellows so loudly, making a commotion down here among us, in a perfectly pedestrian way... But the other one, the eternal one, is all around and above us, like a landscape that surrounds us and the blue sky that gives us light."

"After the pain of this disappointment her heart once more stood empty, and the succession of identical days began again."

"Ah! thought Rodolphe, turning very pale, that was what she came for. At last he said with a calm air? Dear Madame, I have not got them. He did not lie. If he had had them, he would, no doubt, have given them, although it is generally disagreeable to do such fine things: a demand for money being, of all the winds that blow upon love, the coldest and most destructive."

"Ah! she said, lifting her lovely tear-bright eyes to the ceiling. If you knew all the dreams I've dreamed!"

"Alas! It Seems to Me That When one is as good as this at dissecting Have you children are born to, one cannot stiffen up enough to create 'em."

"All the sensations of the old affection had come back to her again, and her poor, overladen heart began lovingly to unfold itself. A warm breeze fanned her face; the snow was melting, and fell drop by drop from the budding shoots on to the grass."

"All the relatives of both families had been invited, quarrels between friends arranged, acquaintances long since lost sight of written to."

"All one's inventions are true, you can be sure of that. Poetry is as exact a science as geometry."

"Among the disillusionments of life, it is a good thing to be able to dwell in thought on lofty characters, pure affections and scenes of happiness. For myself, living so far away from everybody, it's about the only amusement I have."

"An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere."

"An overwhelming curiosity makes me ask myself what their lives might be like. I want to know what they do, where they're from, their names, what they're thinking about at that moment, what they regret, what they hope for, their past loves, their current dreams ... and if they happen to be women (especially the young ones) then the urge becomes intense. How quickly would you want to see her naked, admit it, and naked through to her heart. How you try to learn where she comes from, where she's going, why she's here and not elsewhere! While letting your eyes wander all over her, you imagine love affairs for her, you ascribe her deep feelings. You think of the bedroom she must have, and a thousand things besides... right down to the battered slippers into which she must slip her feet when she gets out of bed."

"An infinity of passion can be contained in one minute, like a crowd in a small space."

"And he beholds the moon; like a rounded fragment of ice filled with motionless light."

"And all this time she was torn by wild desires, by rage, by hatred. The trim folds of her dress hid a heart in turmoil, and her reticent lips told nothing of the storm. She was in love with L‚on, and she sought the solitude that allowed her to revel undisturbed in his image."

"And now he was gone; the sole charm of her life, the only source from which she might have hoped to win a little happiness. Why had she not taken the chance when it was offered her? Why hadn't she held him back with both hands, begged and prayed to him on her knees, when he tried to fly away? She cursed herself for not giving her love to Leon; she was thirsty for his lips."

"And in his eyes she read a love such as she had never known."

"And now she could not bring herself to believe that the uneventful life she was leading was the happiness of which she had dreamed."

"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."