Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Marguerite Yourcenar, pseudonym for Marguerite Cleenewerck de Crayencour

Belgian-born French Novelist and Essayist

"The unfortunate thing is that, because wishes sometimes come true, the agony of hoping is perpetuated."

"The true birthplace is that wherein for the first time one looks intelligently upon oneself; my first homelands have been books."

"The world is big? May it please the One who perchance is to expand the human heart to life?s full measure."

"The written word has taught me to listen to the human voice, much as the great unchanging statues have taught me to appreciate bodily motions."

"There are books which one should not attempt before having passed the age of forty."

"This book bears no dedication. It ought to have been dedicated to G.F...[Grace Frick], and would have been, were there not a kind of impropriety in putting a personal inscription at the opening of a work where, precisely, I was trying to efface the personal. But even the longest dedication is too short and too commonplace to honor a friendship so uncommon. When I try to define this asset which has been mine now for years, I tell myself that such a privilege, however rare it may be, is surely not unique; that in the whole adventure of bringing a book successfully to its conclusion, or even in the entire life of some fortunate writers, there must have been sometimes, in the background, perhaps, someone who will not let pass the weak or inaccurate sentence which we ourselves would retain out of fatigue; someone who would re-read with us for the 20th time, if need be, a questionable page; someone who takes down for us from the library shelves the heavy tomes in which we may find a helpful suggestion, and who persists in continuing to peruse them long after weariness has made us give up; someone who bolsters our courage and approves, or sometimes disputes, our ideas; who share with us, and with equal fervor, the joys of art and of living, the endless work which both require never easy but never dull; someone who is neither our shadow nor our reflection, nor even our complement, but simply himself; someone who leaves us ideally free, but who nevertheless obliges us to be fully what we are"

"There is more than one kind of wisdom, and all are essential in the world; it is not bad that they should alternate."

"We believe ourselves pure as long as we despise what we do not desire."

"To have merit to abstain from a fault is a manner to be guilty."

"We say: mad with joy. We should say: wise with grief."

"This city belongs to ghosts, to murderers, to sleepwalkers. Where are you, in what bed, in what dream?"

"When two texts, or two assertions, perhaps two ideas, are in contradiction, be ready to reconcile them rather than cancel one by the other; regard them as two different facets, or two successive stages, of the same reality, a reality convincingly human just because it is too complex."

"Who would be so besotted as to die without having made at least the round of this, his prison?"