Quotes from Victor Hugo

I am in the process of working through all of Victor Hugo's writings (most recently I've read Marion de Lorme). A side benefit of doing so is that I will be able to provide verified quotes from his writings, as opposed to attributed quotes. Select from the following:

Han d'Islande (1823)

"Every intellectual effort, be it drama, poem, or romance, must contain three ingredients — what the author has felt, what he has observed, and what he has divined." (Introduction, 1833)

"To assume a right to the obedience of certain beings is to give others a right to command you." (Ch. 5)

"Tears unshed are far more bitter than those that flow." (Ch. 40)

"There are certain emotions which can find expression only in silence." (Ch. 44)

Bug-Jargal (1826)

no quotes

Hernani (1830)

"Romanticism, so often ill-defined, is only ... liberalism in literature." (Preface)

"Liberty in art, liberty in society: behold the double end towards which consistent and logical minds should tend." (Preface)

"Let the principle of liberty work, but let it work well. In letters, as in society, not etiquette, not anarchy, but laws." (Preface)

"... happiness is serious ... its smile is nearer tears than mirth." (Act V, Scene III)

Marion de Lorme (1831)

"When one enjoys full liberty, one must use it with the utmost moderation." (Preface)

"Art is now free. It must show itself deserving of its freedom." (Preface)

"Those men to whom their gray hairs are a constant warning, and whose time is growing short, have tasks to finish, testaments of the mind, so to speak. They may be suddenly interrupted by the coming of the end, and they have not a day to lose; hence arises the stern necessity of retirement and solitude. Man has duties to fulfill toward his thoughts." (Preface of 1873)

"Life is a gift from heaven, too palpable and precious." (Act IV, Scene VIII)

Notre-Dame de Paris (1831)

About Notre-Dame: "a vast symphony in stone". (III.1)

"Great buildings, like great mountains, are the work of centuries." (III.1)

"... you can be a great genius yet understand nothing of an art which is not your own." (III.2)

"Geometry is a harmony." (III.2)

"For each of us, there are certain parallelisms between our intellect, our habits, and our character, which develop without interruption and are broken only by life's great upheavals." (IV.5)

"... the scholar's mouth that compliments another scholar is a jar of poisoned honey." (V.1)

"... the book will kill the building!" (V.1) (see also long quote)

About the Middle Ages: "In those days, they saw everything thus, without metaphysics, without exaggeration, without a magnifying glass, with the naked eye. The microscope had not yet been invented, either for material things or for the things of the spirit." (VI.2)

"Rembrandt, that Shakespeare of painting" (VII.4)

"An excess of sorrow, like an excess of joy, is a violent and shortlived thing. The human heart cannot remain for long in an extremity." (IX.4)

"... love is like a tree, it grows of its own accord, it puts down deep roots into our whole being ..." (IX.4)

"... the blinder the passion, the more tenacious it is. It is never more solid than when it is unreasonable." (IX.4)

"The human heart ... can contain only a limited amount of despair. Once the sponge is saturated, the sea can pass over it without another drop entering." (IX.5)

"What men order, things disorder." (X.1)

Le Roi S'Amuse (The King's Amusement, 1832)

"A right is not to be treated as a favor." (Preface)

Ruy Blas (1838)

"Need is a low door which, when we must by stern necessity pass through, forces the greatest to bend down the most." (Act I, Scene III)

"Popularity? It's glory's small change." (Act III, Scene V)

Napoléan-le-Petit (1852)

"Liberty suppressed is property destroyed." (II.5)

"Do you know what the teacher is doing? He is manufacturing minds. He is the wheelwright, the weaver, the blacksmith of that work in which he is God's helper — the future." (II.11)

"That which separates man from the brute is the notion of good and evil.... Hence that great and twofold sentiment in man of his liberty and his responsibility. He can be good or he can be wicked. That is an account he will have to settle. He can be guilty; and that — it is a striking fact, and one upon which I insist — is his greatness." (VI.7)

"There are axioms in probity, in honesty, in justice, just as much as there are axioms in geometry; and the truths of morality are no more at the mercy of a vote than are the truths of algebra." (VI.8)

"The future has become possible." (VII.2)

"Providence, by the mere fact of universal life, leads men, things, and events on to maturity. In order that an old world fade away, it is sufficient for civilization, ascending majestically toward her solstice, to illuminate ancient institutions, ancient prejudices, ancient laws, and ancient manners. Her radiance burns up the past and devours it. Civilization enlightens (this is the visible fact) and at the same time consumes (this is the mysterious fact). Under its influence, that which should decline declines, and that which should grow old grows old, slowly and without shock; wrinkles come to things condemned, be they castes, or codes, or institutions, or religions." (Conclusion, Second Part, §1)

Les Misérables (1862)

"The beautiful is as useful as the useful. More so, perhaps." (I.1.vi)

"A man's philosophy is the bed he lies on." (I.1.viii)

"... knowledge is authority based on truth. Man should be ruled by knowledge." (I.1.x)

"Conscience is the amount of inner knowledge that we possess." (I.1.x)

"... the hatred of luxury is not a sensible hatred. It implies a hatred of the arts." (I.1.xi)

"Every calling has its aspirants who cling to the skirts of authority; no power is without its votaries, no fortune without its court. Those with an eye to the future flutter round the illustrious present." (I.1.xii)

"... success is an ugly thing. Men are deceived by its false resemblances to merit." (I.1.xii)

"... there are no trifles in the human story, no trifling leaves on the tree ..." (I.3.i)

"... the heart, too, has its hunger ..." (I.3.ii)

"... books, those undemanding but faithful friends ..." (I.5.ii)

"There is a prospect greater than the sea, and it is the sky; there is a prospect greater than the sky, and it is the human soul." (I.7.iii)

"The harsh blows of fate have this especial quality, that however self-perfected we may be, however disciplined, they draw from us the true essence of ourselves." (I.8.v)

"Age is no threat to the great men of the mind: with the Dantes and the Michelangelos, to grow older is to grow." (II.1.iii)

"He who abandons the field is beaten." (II.1.iv)

"The daylight of history is merciless; it has the strange and magical quality that, although it is composed of light, and precisely because of this, it casts shadows where once only brilliance was to be seen, making of one man two images, each opposed to the other, so that the darkness of the despot counteracts the majesty of the leader. The the world arrives at a more balanced judgment." (II.1.iv)

"They are illustrious because they think." (II.1.xvi)

"Often the losing of a battle leads to the winning of progress. Less glory but greater liberty: the drum is silent and the voice of reason can be heard." (II.1.xvi)

"It is possible to conceive of something even more terrible than a hell of suffering, and that is a hell of boredom." (II.4.i)

"Children instantly and familiarly accept rejoicing and happiness, because this is their natural element." (II.4.2)

"The hour of ecstasy may be no more than an instant." (II.5.vi)

Of life in a convent: "They never say 'my' or 'mine'. They own nothing and they cherish nothing. Everything is 'ours' ..." (II.6.ii)

"To those who reject the superhuman incarnate what does the Crucifix represent? — the murder of wisdom." (II.6.xi)

"For our own part, we respect certain things belonging to the past and forgive all of it, provided it consents to stay dead. But it if tries to come alive we attack and seek to kill it." (II.7.iii)

"... with nihilism no discussion is possible, for the nihilist doubts the existence of the person he is talking to and is not even sure of his own existence. Even he may be no more than an idea conceived in his own mind. But what he does not realize is that he accepts the existence of everything he denies simply by uttering the word 'mind'." (II.7.vi)

"One is not idle because one is absorbed. There is both visible and invisible labor. To contemplate is to toil, to think is to do." (II.7.viii)

"It is a charming quality of the happiness we inspire in others that, far from being diminished like a reflection, it comes back to us enhanced." (II.8.ix)

"All fruitful social impulses spring from knowledge, letters, the arts, teaching. We must make whole men, whole men, by bringing light to them that they may bring us warmth." (III.1.x)

"Daring is the price of progress. All splendid conquests are the prize of boldness ..." (III.1.xi)

"To venture, to defy, to persevere, to be true to one's self, to grapple with destiny, to dismay calamity by not being afraid of it, to challenge now unrighteous powers and now victory run wild, to stand fast and hold firm — these are the examples that the peoples need, the spark that electrifies them." (III.1.xi)

"To be 'ultra' is to go to the extreme. It is to attack the sceptre in the name of the throne and the mitre in the name of the altar; to abuse the cause one supports; to rush one's fences, outdo the executioner in the grilling of heretics, charge the idol with insufficient idolatry, insult by excessive adulation, find the pope insufficiently papist and the king insufficiently royalist. It is to denigrate the whiteness of alabaster or snow or the swan or the lily in the name of flawless whiteness; to be a partisan of causes to the point of becoming their enemy; to be so vehemently for as to be in fact against." (III.3.iii)

"What greater flood can there be than the flood of ideas? How quickly they submerge all that they set out to destroy, how rapidly do they create terrifying depths!" (III.3.iii)

"There are ways of falling into error while pursuing the truth." (III.3.vi)

"The compass needle swinging over its dial has its equivalent in men's souls." (III.4.i)

"Skepticism, that dry rot of the intellect ..." (III.4.i)

"Rights must be whole or they are nothing." (III.4.iv)

" ... work, which makes a man free, and thought, which makes him worthy of freedom." (III.5.iii)

"In the animal world no creature born to be a dove turns into a scavenger. This happens only among men." (III.8.iv)

"The conflict between Right and Fact goes back to the dawn of society. To bring it to an end, uniting the pure thought with human reality, peacefully causing Right to pervade Fact and Fact to be embedded in Right, this is the task of wise men." (IV.1.i)

"Thought is the work of the intellect, reverie is its self-indulgence. To substitute day-dreaming for thought is to confuse a poison with a source of nourishment." (IV.2.i)

"Where the telescope ends the microscope begins, and who can say which has the wider vision?" (IV.3.iii)

"Work is the law of life, and to reject it as boredom is to submit to it as torment." (IV.4.ii)

"Can you not see that to decide to do nothing is the most wretched of all decisions?" (IV.4.ii)

"We are beginning to grasp the fact that although power can be contained in a boiler, mastery exists only in the brain: in other words, that it is ideas, not locomotives, that move the world." (IV.6.ii)

"Mankind is not a circle with a single center but an ellipse with two focal points of which facts are one and ideas are the other." (IV.7.i)

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." (IV.7.i)

"Intellectual and moral growth is no less essential than material betterment. Knowledge is a viaticum; thought is a primary necessity; truth is as much a source of nourishment as corn. Argument lacking knowledge and wisdom grows thin. We must pity minds, no less than stomachs, that go unfilled. If there is anything more poignant than a body dying for lack of food it is a mind dying for lack of light." (IV.7.iv)

"Ideas can no more flow backward than can a river." (IV.7.iv)

"The sickness of a nation does not kill Man." (IV.7.iv)

"The elimination of war — warfare in the streets or warfare across frontiers — is the fruit of progress." (IV.10.ii)

"Despotism violates the moral frontier just as foreign invasion violates the geographical frontier." (IV.13.iii)

"Man the individual is a deeper being than man in the mass." (IV.15.i)

"... genius invites hostility ... " (V.1.ii)

"To tame the natural world is the first step, and the second step is to achieve the ideal." (V.1,v)

"In terms of policy there is only one principle, the sovereingty of man over himself, and this sovereignty of me over me is called Liberty." (V.1.v)

"Youth is the future smiling at a stranger, which is itself." (V.1.x)

"It is always at its risk that Utopia takes the form of Insurrection, substituting armed for reasoned protest, transforming Minerva into Pallas." (V.1.xx)

"The ideal is nothing but the culmination of logic, just as beauty is the apex of truth." (V.1.xx)

"The quantity of civilization is measured by the quality of imagination." (V.1.xx)

"The modern ideal finds its prototype in art and its method in science." (V.1.xx)

"There must be extravagance in happiness; rapture must be spiced with superfluity.... Happiness unadorned is like unbuttered bread: one may eat it but one does not dine." (V.5.vi)

"The philosophers say, 'Be moderate in your pleasures,' but I say enjoy them to the full.... Moderate your pleasures — what nonsense it is! Down with the philosophers! Rapture is the true wisdom." (V.6.ii)

"The circumstances of happiness are not enough, there must be peace of mind." (V.7.iv)

"To die is nothing; but it is terrible not to live." (V.9.v)

William Shakespeare (1864)

"God manifests himself to us in the first degree through the life of the universe, and in the second degree through the thought of man. The second manifestation is not less holy than the first. The first is named Nature, the second is named Art." (I.2.i)

"Homer is one of the men of genius who solve that fine problem of art — the finest of all, perhaps — truly to depict humanity by the enlargement of man: that is, to generate the real in the ideal." (I.2.ii, §1)

"It is man's consolation that the future is to be a sunrise instead of a sunset." (I.2.ii, §5)

"Wisdom in the beginning, reason by and by: such is the strange history of the human mind." (I.2.ii, §13)

"Common sense is not wisdom, neither is it reason; it is a little of one and a little of the other, with a dash of egoism." (I.2.ii, §13)

"... the possible: that window of the dream opening upon reality." (I.2.ii, §14)

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to remain silent." (I.2.iv)

"The book is vaster yet than that grand scene, the world; for to the fact it adds the idea." (I.3.i)

"The profound word 'number' is at the base of man's thought; it is, to our intelligence, elemental; it signifies harmony as well as mathematics.... Without number, no science; without number, no poetry." (I.3.ii)

"Art is a species of valor." (I.3.v)

"A counting-house passes away; a school endures." (I.4.ix)

"Civilization is humanity developing itself outward from within." (I.5.i)

"The poet is necessarily at once poet, historian, and philosopher." (II.1.i)

"I have no faith in the science of stupid men of learning." (II.1.ii)

"The only form of simplicity recognized by art is the simplicity that is profound." (II.1.v)

"On earth the divine must be human." (II.1.v)

"The characteristic of men of genius of the first order is to produce each a distinctive model of man." (II.2.i)

"God creates by intuition; man creates by inspiration, strengthened by observation." (II.2.i)

"A type does not reproduce any man in particular; it cannot be exactly superposed upon any individual; it sums up and concentrates under one human form a whole family of characters and minds. A type is no abridgement: it is a condensation." (II.2.ii)

"Genius is a headland jutting out into the infinite." (II.2.v)

"Night is but the night of the world; evil is the night of the soul." (II.2.vi)

"The school is the resultant of pedantry; the school is the literary excrescence of the budget; the school is intellectual mandarinship governing in the various authorized and official teachings, either of the press or of the state, from the theatrical feuilleton of the prefecture to the biographies and encyclopedias duly examined and stamped and hawked about, and made sometimes, by way of refinement, by republicans agreeable to the police; the school is the classic and scholastic orthodoxy, with its unbroken girdle of walls, Homeric and Virgilian antiquity traded upon by official and licensed literati — a sort of China calling itself Greece; the school is, summed up in one concretion which forms part of public order, all the knowledge of pedagogues, all the history of historiographers, all the poetry of laureates, all the philosophy of sophists, all the criticism of pedants, all the ferules of the teaching friars, all the religion of bigots, all the modesty of prudes, all the metaphysics of partisans, all the justice of bureaucrats, all the old age of dapper young men bereft of their virility, all the flattery of courtiers, all the diatribes of censer-bearers, all the independence of flunkeys, all the certitudes of the short-sighted and of base souls." (II.4.vi)

"The human mind has a greater need of the ideal even than of the real. It is by the real that we exist; it is by the ideal that we live." (II.5.ii)

"To live is to understand. To live, is to smile at the present, to look toward posterity over the wall." (II.5.ii)

"Literature is the secretion of civilization, poetry of the ideal. That is why literature is one of the wants of societies. That is why poetry is a hunger of the soul." (II.5.ii)

"He who is not free is not a man." (II.5.iii)

"The progress of man by the education of minds — there is no safety but in that." (II.5.vii)

"Man does not live by bread alone. Give up the poets, and you give up civilization." (III.1.i)

"Nothing equals the power of voluntary deafness in fanatics." (III.1.iii)

"What edifice can equal a thought?" (III.1.v)

"An intellectual awakening prepares the way for an overthrow of facts." (III.2.i)

"O men eternal, the minds of this day salute you, but do not follow you; in respect to you they hold to this law: to admire everything, to imitate nothing." (III.2.i)

"That history has to be re-made is evident. Up to the present time, it has been nearly always written from the miserable point of view of accomplished fact; it is time to write it from the point of view of principle." (III.3.iii)

"Where there is thought, there is power." (III.3.iv)

"What is the invasion of kingdoms compared to the opening up of intellects?" (III.3.iv)

"The idea alone is indestructible. Nothing lasts save the mind." (III.3.iv)

Les Travailleurs de la Mer (The Toilers of the Sea, 1866)

"Religion, society, nature: these are the three struggles of man. These three conflicts are, at the same time, his three needs: it is necessary for him to believe, hence the temple; it is necessary for him to create, hence the city; it is necessary for him to live, hence the plow and the ship. But these three solutions contain three conflicts. The mysterious difficulty of life springs from all three. Man has to deal with obstacles under the form of superstition, under the form of prejudice, and under the form of the elements. A triple ananke [necessity] weighs upon us: the ananke of dogmas, the ananke of laws, and the ananke of things.... With these three fatalities which envelop man is mingled the interior fatality, that supreme ananke, the human heart." (Preface)

"The great outlines and the great sublimity of nature — the cradle of the ocean, the profile of the mountains, the shade of the forests, the blue of the heavens — are composed of elements of intense discord mingled harmoniously together." (The Channel Islands, §vi)

"As long as the past has breath enough to make itself heard, Voltaire will be rejected. Listen to all these opinions: He has neither genius, nor talent, nor wit. When old he was insulted; when dead he was outlawed. He is everlastingly "discussed"; in that his glory consists. Is it possible to speak of Voltaire with calmness and justice? When a man rules an age and embodies progress, he is no longer the subject of criticism, but of hatred." (The Channel Islands, §x)

"... the habit of reading ... produces dignity of manners." (The Channel Islands, §xiii)

"... custom ... is more despotic than law." (The Channel Islands, §xvii)

"It seems that a certain power of achievement is given to man. He appropriates creation to human needs. Such is his function. He has the audacity necessary to accomplish it; one might also say the impiety.... Man, this short-lived being, this creature always surrounded by death, undertakes the infinite.... He has his idea of fitness; the universe must accept it. Besides, has he not a universe of his own? He expects to make of it what seems to him good. A universe is raw material. The world, work of God, is man's canvas. Everything restrains man, but nothing stops him. He overcomes limits by jumping over them. The impossible is a perpetually receding frontier.... Formerly he took all this trouble for Xerxes; today, less foolish, he takes the trouble for himself. This diminution of stupidity is called progress." (The Channel Islands, §xx)

"Volcanoes cast forth stones, and revolutions cast forth men." (I.1.iii)

"Solitude generates a certain quality of sublime exaltation." (I.1.vii)

"The human body might well be regarded as only an appearance. It hides our reality. It lies thick over our light, or our shadow. The reality is our soul. To speak absolutely, the human visage is a mask. The true man is that which is beneath man." (I.3.i)

"... the beautiful is a necessity.... To scatter joy, to beam with happiness, to possess amid sombre things an exhalation of light, to be the gilding of destiny, to be harmony, to be grace, to be prettiness, is to render a service. Beauty does one good by being beautiful." (I.3.i)

"By virtue of being a philosopher, he lacked somewhat in wisdom." (I.3.xii)

"The intolerance of the tolerant exists, as well as the rage of the moderates." (I.3.xii)

"One can derive good from a knowledge of evil." (I.5.ii)

"The exaggeration of fright deprives facts of their true proportions." (I.5.ii)

"Forces are infinite machines, machines are limited forces." (I.6.iii)

"No force is blind. Man must watch these forces, and seek to discover their laws." (I.6.iii)

"An idea is a meteor; at the moment of success, the accumulated meditations which have preceded it open a little, and a spark flashes forth from it...." (I.6.vi)

"To plan and to execute are two different things, and the proof is, that it is easy to dream but difficult to perform." (I.7.i)

"In certain vast enterprises when the superhuman seems necessary, bravery is little less than madness." (I.7.i)

About Gilliatt (the hero): "He added to strength, which is physical, energy, which is moral force." (II.1.vii)

Gilliatt was "profoundly thoughtful during his labor". (II.1.ix)

"To force an obstacle into service is a great stride towards triumph." (II.1.x)

"The works of nature, no less supreme than the works of genius, contain something of the absolute..." (II.1.xiii)

"Nothing equals the timidity of ignorance, except its temerity. When ignorance sets out but to dare, it is because it has a compass within it. This compass is the intuition of the true, often more clear in a simple than in an enlightened mind.... all this detracts nothing from science, which remains the rule. The ignorant man may discover, the learned man alone invents." (II.2.ii)

"He did things which appeared useless — a sign of attentive forethought." (II.2.iii)

"A superb flame is the visible will. The eye of man is so made that one perceives his virtue in it. Our eyes reveal the quantity of man there is in us. We assert ourselves by the light which lies under our eyelids. Small consciences blink their eyes, great ones dart lightning. If nothing glows beneath the lids, it is because nothing in the brain thinks, nothing in the heart loves." (II.2.iv)

"Nearly the whole secret of great hearts lies in this word, perseverando. Perseverance is to courage what the wheel is to the lever, it is the perpetual renewing of the fulcrum." (II.2.iv)

"Exhaustion of strength does not exhaust the will. Faith is only a secondary power, to will is the first. The proverbial mountains which faith moves are nothing beside that which the will accomplishes." (II.2.iv)

"Will intoxicates. One can become intoxicated with one's own soul. This intoxication is called heroism." (II.2.iv)

"Intelligence is invincible, but the elements are impregnable." (II.3.ii)

"Unity begetting complexity — that is the law of laws." (II.3.iii)

"Because of nature's unity it has been concluded that she is simple. An error." (II.3.iii)

"Phenomena intersect; to see but one is to see nothing." (II.3.iii)

"There is no interruption in creation; no broken arch, no lapse; an action and its consequences embrace all nature; the chain may be longer or shorter, but never breaks." (II.3.iii)

"The universe contains what is necessary and only what is necessary." (II.3.iii)

"One should never tire of insisting on the unity of the laws of nature; it reveals the unity of being." (II.3.iii)

"Phenomena may well be suspected of anything, are capable of anything. Hypothesis proclaims the infinite; that is what gives hypothesis its greatness. Beneath the surface fact it seeks the real fact. It asks creation for her thoughts, and then for her second thoughts. The great scientific discoverers are those who hold nature suspect." (II.3.iii)

"Navigation is education. The sea is a hard school. Cohabitation with these unmanageable phenomena produces a rough race of men who deserve to be cherished: the mariners. There are no other conquerors but them. Ulysses the voyager accomplishes more than Achilles the fighter." (II.3.iii)

"Navigation is the opposite of war. Navigation civilizes barbarism, war barbarizes civilization." (II.3.iii)

"Let us never forget, the best is found only by the better." (II.4.ii)

"Life is the voyage, the idea is the itinerary." (III.1.i)

"Melancholy is the happiness of being sad." (III.1.i)

"To touch with the thought is almost the same as to touch with the hand." (III.1.ii)

"The first of temples is the heart." (III.1.ii)

L'Homme Qui Rit (The Man Who Laughs, 1869)

"To talk out loud when one is alone is as it were to have a dialogue with the divinity within." (I.prelim.i)

"To climb is the function of man." (I.1.iii)

"The countenance is above all things a reflection, and it is an error to believe that an idea is colorless." (I.2.ii)

"Eternity is more subservient to man than man imagines." (I.2.iii)

"Soliloquy is the smoke exhaled by the inmost fires of the soul." (I.2.iv)

"There is no distress so complete but that even in the most critical moments the inexplicable sunrise of hope is seen in its depths." (I.2.xiii)

"He who reads, thinks; he who thinks, reasons." (II.1.iii)

"It is sometimes more difficult to be the second than the first. It requires less genius, but more courage. The first, intoxicated by the novelty, may ignore the danger; the second sees the abyss, and rushes into it." (II.1.iv)

"He who is not master of his own thoughts is not accountable for his own deeds." (II.1.viii)

"The mind, like Nature, abhors a vacuum." (II.1.ix)

"You can make no arrangements with destiny; tomorrow will not obey you." (II.1.xi)

"But is laughter a synonym for joy?" (II.2.i)

"To give one's entire talent to a production is the greatest triumph that anyone can achieve." (II.2.ix)

"There is one epidemic from which men do not fly, and that is the contagion of joy." (II.2.ix)

"A laudable distrust is an attribute of wisdom." (II.3.i)

"The suicide of the soul is evil thought." (II.3.viii)

"To look facts in the face is the duty of every sensible person." (II.4.iv)

"Before that combustion of hazy ideas called comprehension can take place, air must be admitted between the emotions." (II.5.iv)

"Destiny never opens one door without shutting another." (II.5.iv)

"Adversity is more easily resisted than prosperity." (II.5.v)

"Who has not heard the deep clamors of the soul?" (II.7.i)

"There is a commonplace idea, accepted by nearly everyone, that feelings become blunted by experience. Nothing can be more untrue." (II.7.iii)

"Man can never be more than a wave; humanity is the ocean." (II.8.i)

"History is night. That which is no longer on the stage immediately fades into obscurity. The scene is shifted, and all is forgotten." (II.8.iii)

"What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past." (II.8.iii)

"A secret is a net; let one mesh drop, and the whole falls to pieces." (II.8.v)

"There is no judge so searching as conscience conducting its own trial." (II.9.i)

Quatrevingt-treize (Ninety-Three, 1874)

"To recognize is something; to know is better." (I.2.viii)

"The goodness of a war is measured by the amount of evil it does." (I.3.ii)

"Every idea needs a visible envelope, every principle needs a habitation, every dogma needs a temple. A church is God between four walls." (II.3.i.2)

"The people cannot be free until the tyrant is dead." (II.3.i.7 — spoken by Jean-Bon-Saint-André :)

"History has its truth, and so has legend. Legendary truth is of another nature than historical truth. Legendary truth is invention whose result is reality. Furthermore, history and legend have the same goal: to depict eternal man beneath momentary man." (III.1.i)

"What is taught by heights is different from what is taught by depths." (III.1.vi)

"Vast horizons lead the soul to general ideas; circumscribed horizons engender one-sided ideas.... General ideas are hated by one-sided minds: such is the struggle for progress." (III.1.vi)

"The awakening of children is like the opening of flowers; a fragrance seems to arise from those fresh souls." (III.3.i)

"Nothing is more like a soul than a bee. It goes from flower to flower as a soul goes from star to star, and brings back honey as a soul brings back light." (III.1.iii)

"Giving is a form of superiority." (III.3.vi)

"Hope would be the greatest human force if desperation did not exist." (III.4.xi)

"When events, which are variable, ask us a question, justice, which is immutable, calls on us to answer." (III.6.ii)

"What a battlefied man is!" (III.6.ii)

"We are in the hands of those gods, those monsters, those giants: our thoughts." (III.6.ii)

"To put everything in balance is good, to put everything in harmony is better." (III.7.v)

"In short, between men and women you want..."
"Equality! You can't mean it. Man and woman are two different creatures."
"I said equality. I didn't say identity." (III.7.v)

"Here's the difference between our two Utopias: ... you're founding a republic of swords, I'm founding... I'd found a republic of minds." (III.7.v)

"An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise." (III.7.v)

"When man has touched wood or stone, it is no longer wood or stone, but takes on something of man. An edifice is a dogma, a machine is an idea." (III.7.vi)

Histoire d'un Crime (1877-1878)

"An invasion of armies can be resisted; an invasion of ideas cannot." (Part II, §10)


"The words of a friend have such power that they can alleviate every sorrow on every occasion. Simple and tender, they constitute the one universal remedy for the sufferings of the mind." (to the Abbé de Lamennais, 1822-05-17)

"... the heart of a friend and the soul of a poet — the two things I love best in the world." (to Victor Pavie, 1827-01-03)

"Intolerance is to be found even among philosophers, and censorship even among democrats." (to Victor Pavie, 1828-01-05)

"I do not mind the dagger-thrusts of my enemies; but the pin-pricks of a friend I feel." (to Charles Nodier, 1829-11-02)

"... the good opinion of a superior man arms one with fresh strength and courage against mediocrities." (to Armand Carrell, 1830-03-15)

"Our cause [romanticism] is also one of liberty; it is a revolution, too: it will advance unharmed side by side with its political sister." (to Alphonse de Lamartine, 1830-09-07)

"There are only two or three things really worth having in life, and friendship is one of them." (to Charles Augustine Saint-Beuve, 1830-12-24)

"I believe that the future contains events of an unfailing, calculable, necessary kind, which destiny would bring to pass of itself; but it is sometimes good that the hand of man should aid the force of things a little. Providence is generally slow-footed. One can hasten its steps." (to King Joseph, 1831-09-06)

"The greatest happiness on earth is to help a friend; the next greatest is to be helped by him." (to Charles Augustine Saint-Beuve, 1832-09-21)

"The theatre is a kind of temple, humanity is a sort of religion." (to Victor Pavie, 1833-07-25)

"Truth sometimes has long period of gestation, but never miscarries." (to the Director of the Revue du Progrès Social, 1834-06-01)

"Nature is the face of God. He appears to us through it, and we can read His thoughts in it." (to his daughter Leopoldine, 1839-10-03)

"Nature is always beautiful, but it has no meaning when those we love are absent." (to his daughter Leopoldine, 1843-07-26)


At Rheims (1825—1838)

"Man finds prejudices alongside his cradle, separates himself from them a little in the course of his career, and often, alas, takes to them again in his old age."

"A dogma is a dark chamber."

Visions of the Real

"When the attention becomes fixed, it is like a light." (§4)

Love in Prison

"The need of the immaterial is the most deeply rooted of all needs. One must have bread; but before bread, one must have the ideal." (§2)

"Nothing is more invincible than dreams, and man is virtually made up of dreams." (§5)

"We do not sufficiently reflect on that which is within us and cannot be lost.... Night may become as black as it likes — the spark is still there." (§5)

The Revolution of 1848

"The Republic is, in my opinion, the only rational form of government, the only one worthy of the nations." (The Twenty-Fifth)

Essays (still researching exact publication dates)

Capital Punishment

"I do not know any aim more elevated, more holy, than that of seeking the abolition of capital punishment."


"Where genius rises, envy raises her head."

"The true sovereignty is that of the intellect."

Villemain (1845)

"You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines. Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats. Do no bother yourself about it; disdain. Keep your mind serene as you keep your life clear."

A Retrospect (1875)

"I say that Humanity has a synonym — Equality; and that under heaven tehre is but one thing we ought to bow to — Genius; and only one thing before which we ought to kneel — Goodness."

Post-Scriptum de ma Vie (A Post-Script to My Life, published 1901)

"That aspect of nature called society inspires quite as many primitive creations as that other aspect of nature called barbarism." (§1, Genius and Taste)

"It is needful that there be in the poet a philosopher, yet also something more. He who is lacking in this celestial quality, the dream, is a philosopher only." (§2, Promontorium Somnii)

"Whosoever we may be, we are adventurers of the world of our thoughts." (§2, Promontorium Somnii)

"There is in admiration a certain strength that dignifies and enlarges the intellect." (§5, Genius)

"Religions do a useful thing: they narrow God to the limits of man. Philosophy replies by doing a necessary thing: it elevates man to the plane of God. True philosophy turns aside from religions, and pushes forward to religion." (§8, Life and Death)

"Idolatry is centripetal force; nihilism is centrifugal force. The equilibrium of these two forces is philosophy." (§11, Supreme Contemplation)

"Liberty is health." (§11, Supreme Contemplation)

"Man is God in small volume." (§11, Supreme Contemplation)

"Poetry contains philosophy as the soul contains reason." (§12, Thoughts)

"He who is not capable of enduring poverty is not capable of being free." (§12, Thoughts)

"To be perfectly happy it does not suffice to possess happiness, it is necessary to have deserved it." (§12, Thoughts)

"Do not let it be your aim to be something, but to be someone." (§12, Thoughts)

"Love is a mighty egoism that possesses all the altruisms." (§12, Thoughts)