French Realist Novelist and Critic
"Only great minds can afford a simple style...One can acquire everything in solitude-except character."
"Man is not free to refuse to do the thing which gives him more pleasure than any other conceivable action."
"A melancholy air can never be the right thing; what you want is a bored air. If you are melancholy, it must be because you want something, there is something in which you have not succeeded."
"Ah, Sir, a novel is a mirror carried along a high road. At one moment it reflects to your vision the azure skies, at another the mire of the puddles at your feet. And the man who carries this mirror in his pack will be accused by you of being immoral! His mirror shews the mire, and you blame the mirror! Rather blame that high road upon which the puddle lies, still more the inspector of roads who allows the water to gather and the puddle to form."
"All right, two mornings from now I’ll fight a duel with a fellow known for his calm collectedness and remarkable skill…’Very remarkable,’ said his Mephistophelian side. ‘He never misses."
"Almost all our misfortunes in life come from the wrong notions we have about the things that happen to us. To know men thoroughly, to judge events sanely, is, therefore, a great step towards happiness."
"A novel is a mirror which passes over a highway. Sometimes it reflects to your eyes the blue of the skies, at others the churned-up mud of the road."
"But, if I sample this pleasure so prudently and circumspectly, it will no longer be a pleasure."
"Exalted by a sentiment of which she was proud, and that overcame all her arrogance, she was reluctant to let a moment of her life go by without occupying it with some remarkable deed."
"Faith, I am no such fool; everyone for himself in this desert of selfishness which is called life."
"For the future, I shall rely only upon those elements of my character which I have tested. Who would ever have said that I should find pleasure in shedding tears? That I should love the man who proves to me that I am nothing more than a fool?"
"An English traveler relates how he lived upon intimate terms with a tiger; he had reared it and used to play with it, but always kept a loaded pistol on the table."
"Am I capable of deceiving my friend? Julien asked himself peevishly. This being, for whom hypocrisy and an absence of all sympathy were the usual methods of protecting himself, could not bear, this time, the thought of the slightest trickiness in dealing with a man for whom he had friendly feelings."
"Heavy will be your life time. In you I see something that offends common people. Envy and Defamation will pursue. Wherever they threw Providence companions you cannot look at you without hate, and if they pretend they like, it will be only to destroy them safer."
"I am mad, I am going under, I must follow the advice of a friend, and pay no heed to myself."
"I call "crystallization" that action of the mind that discovers fresh perfections in its beloved at every turn of events."
"I no longer find such pleasure in that preeminently good society, of which I was once so fond. It seems to me that beneath a cloak of clever talk it proscribes all energy, all originality. If you are not a copy, people accuse you of being ill-mannered."
"I think no woman I have had ever gave me so sweet a moment, or at so light a price, as the moment I owe to a newly heard musical phrase."
"In a small town of the Aveyron or the Pyrenees, the slightest incident would have been made decisive by the ardour of the climate. Beneath our more sombre skies, a penniless young man, who is ambitious only because the refinement of his nature puts him in need of some of those pleasures which money provides, is in daily contact with a woman of thirty who is sincerely virtuous, occupied with her children, and never looks to novels for examples of conduct. Everything goes slowly, everything happens by degrees in the provinces: life is more natural."
"In love, unlike most other passions, the recollection of what you have had and lost is always better than what you can hope for in the future."