Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Honoré de Balzac

French Novelist, Playwright, Poet and Short Story Writer

"[Paraphrase] Self consciousness, while glorious for what is has done, is at the same time baneful, because it precludes man from entering the Cosmic Conscious life, which leads to the infinite - which alone can explain God."

"All we are is in the soul."

"Emulation admires and strives to imitate great actions; envy is only moved to malice."

"Emulation is not rivalry. Emulation is the child of ambition; rivalry is the unlovable daughter of envy."

"Envy lurks at the bottom of the human heart, like a viper in its hole."

"Evasion is unworthy of us, and is always the intimate of equivocation."

"Gentleness in the gait is what simplicity is in the dress. Violent gesture or quick movement inspires involuntary disrespect. One looks for a moment at a cascade; but one sits for hours, lost in thought, and gazing upon the still water of a lake. A deliberate gait, gentle manners, and a gracious tone of voice - all of which may be acquired - give a mediocre man an immense advantage over those vastly superior to him. To be bodily tranquil, to speak little, and to digest without effort are absolutely necessary to grandeur of mind or of presence, or to proper development of genius."

"Glory is a poison, good to be taken in small doses."

"Hatred is the vice of narrow souls; they feed it with all their littlenesses, and make it the pretext of base tyrannies."

"How can we explain the perpetuity of envy - a vice which yields no return?"

"It is no sin to be tempted; the wickedness lies in being overcome."

"Necessity is often the spur to genius."

"Nothing is irredeemably ugly but sin."

"Novelty is both delightful and deceptive."

"Sensuality is the death of the soul."

"Temperament is the thermometer of character."

"The more one judges, the less one loves."

"The motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom; to serve all and love but one."

"There are no little events with the heart. It magnifies everything; it places in the same scales the fall of an empire of fourteen years and the dropping of a woman’s glove, and almost always the glove weighs more than the empire."

"To live in the presence of great truths and eternal laws, to be led by permanent ideals - that is what keeps a man patient when the world ignores him, and calm and unspoiled when the world praises him."

"A girl's loving adoration is stronger than society's disapproval."

"All humanity is passion; without passion, religion, history, novels, art would be ineffectual."

"Cruelty and fear shake hands together."

"Genius is intensity."

"Hatred is the vice of narrow souls; they feed it with all their littlenesses, and make it the pretexts of base tyrannies."

"All happiness depends on courage and work. I have had my periods of wretchedness, but with energy and above all with illusions, I pulled through them all."

"All human power is a compound of time and patience."

"Hope is the better half of courage. Hope has it not sustained the work, and given the fainting heart time and patience to outwit the chances and changes of life."

"It is easier to be a lover that a husband for the simpler reason that it is more difficult to be witty every day that to say pretty things from time to time."

"Love is to the moral nature what the sun is to the earth."

"Marriage should combat without respite or mercy that monster which devours everything - habit."

"Misfortune makes of certain souls a vast desert though which rings the voice of God."

"Mourning is in the heart, not in the clothes."

"One of the most detestable habits of Lilliputian minds is to find their own littleness in others."

"Passion is universal humanity. With it religion, history, romance and art would be useless."

"Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true."

"Simplicity never fails to charm."

"The hardest sentiment to tolerate is pity, especially when it's deserved. Hatred is a tonic, it vitalizes us, it inspires vengeance, but pity deadens, it makes our weakness weaker."

"The man who enters his wife's dressing room is either a philosopher or a fool."

"The motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom; to serve all, but love only one."

"There is neither vice nor virtue, there are only circumstances."

"There is nothing original; all is reflected light."

"Too great a display of delicacy can and does sometimes infringe upon decency."

"Vivacity is the health of the spirit."

"You may imitate, but never counterfeit."

"Behind every great fortune there is a crime."

"Marriage must incessantly contend with a monster that devours everything: familiarity."

"Beauty is undoubtedly the signature of the Master to work in which he has put his soul; it is the divine spirit manifested."

"Friendships last when each friend thinks he has a slight superiority over the other."

"A councilor ought not to sleep the whole night through - a man to whom the populace is entrusted, and who has many responsibilities."