Honoré de Balzac quotes

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Honoré de Balzac

Birthdate: 20. May 1799
Date of death: 18. August 1850

Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. The novel sequence La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of post-Napoleonic French life, is generally viewed as his magnum opus.

Owing to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous writers, including the novelists Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, and Henry James, filmmaker François Truffaut as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, and they continue to inspire other writers.

An enthusiastic reader and independent thinker as a child, Balzac had trouble adapting to the teaching style of his grammar school. His willful nature caused trouble throughout his life and frustrated his ambitions to succeed in the world of business. When he finished school, Balzac was apprenticed in a law office, but he turned his back on the study of law after wearying of its inhumanity and banal routine. Before and during his career as a writer, he attempted to be a publisher, printer, businessman, critic, and politician; he failed in all of these efforts. La Comédie Humaine reflects his real-life difficulties, and includes scenes from his own experience.

Balzac suffered from health problems throughout his life, possibly due to his intense writing schedule. His relationship with his family was often strained by financial and personal drama, and he lost more than one friend over critical reviews. In 1850, Balzac married Ewelina Hańska, a Polish aristocrat and his longtime love; he died in Paris five months later.

Wikipedia

Works

Physiology of Marriage
Honoré de Balzac
Séraphîta
Honoré de Balzac
Une fille d'Ève
Honoré de Balzac
A Woman of Thirty
Honoré de Balzac
Pierrette
Honoré de Balzac
Le Pere Goriot
Le Pere Goriot
Honoré de Balzac
Gobseck
Gobseck
Honoré de Balzac
Gambara
Gambara
Honoré de Balzac
Louis Lambert
Louis Lambert
Honoré de Balzac
Le Contrat de mariage
Le Contrat de mariage
Honoré de Balzac
Illusions perdues
Honoré de Balzac

„Equality may be a right, but no power on earth can convert it into fact.“

—  Honoré de Balzac

L'égalité sera peut-être un droit, mais aucune puissance humaine ne saura le convertir en fait.
La Duchesse de Langeais http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/La_Duchesse_de_Langeais (1834), translated by Ellen Marriage, part II.

„There is something great and terrible about suicide.“

—  Honoré de Balzac

Il existe je ne sais quoi de grand et d'épouvantable dans le suicide.
The Wild Ass’s Skin (1831), Part I: The Talisman

„Excess of joy is harder to bear than any amount of sorrow.“

—  Honoré de Balzac

On porte encore moins facilement la joie excessive que la peine la plus lourde.
Part II, ch. L
Letters of Two Brides (1841-1842)

„Those who spend too fast never grow rich.“

—  Honoré de Balzac

Qui dépense trop n’est jamais riche.
La Maison du Chat-qui-pelote http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/La_Maison_du_chat-qui-pelote [At the Sign of the Cat and Racket] (1830), translated by Clara Bell

„Man dies in despair while the Spirit dies in ecstasy.“

—  Honoré de Balzac, book Séraphîta

Source: Seraphita (1835), Ch. 3: Seraphita - Seraphitus.

„Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell you that solitude is fine.“

—  Honoré de Balzac

La solitude est certainement une belle chose, mais il y a plaisir d'avoir quelqu'un qui sache répondre, à qui on puisse dire de temps en temps, que c'est un belle chose. (Solitude is certainly a fine thing; but there is pleasure in having someone who can answer, from time to time, that it is a fine thing.) —Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac, Dissertations chrétiennes et morales (1665), XVIII: "Les plaisirs de la vie retirée".
Misattributed

„When law becomes despotic, morals are relaxed, and vice versa.“

—  Honoré de Balzac

Quand le despotisme est dans les lois, la liberté se trouve dans les mœurs, et vice versa.
The Wild Ass’s Skin (1831), Part I: The Talisman

„When women love, they forgive everything, even our crimes; when they do not love, they cannot forgive anything, not even our virtues.“

—  Honoré de Balzac

Lorsque les femmes nous aiment, elles nous pardonnent tout, même nos crimes; lorsqu'elles ne nous aiment pas, elles ne nous pardonnent rien, pas même nos vertus!
La Muse du Département http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/La_Muse_du_d%C3%A9partement_-_II_-_34 (1843), translated by James Waring, part II, ch. XXXIV (part XIII in the translated version).

„Between the daylight gambler and the player at night there is the same difference that lies between a careless husband and the lover swooning under his lady’s window.“

—  Honoré de Balzac

Entre le joueur du matin et le joueur du soir il existe la différence qui distingue le mari nonchalant de l'amant pâmé sous les fenêtres de sa belle.
The Wild Ass’s Skin (1831), Part I: The Talisman

„A young bride is like a plucked flower; but a guilty wife is like a flower that had been walked over.“

—  Honoré de Balzac

Une jeune fille est comme une fleur qu'on a cueillie; mais la femme coupable est une fleur sur laquelle on a marché.
Honorine http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Honorine (1845), translated by Clara Bell

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„A flow of words is a sure sign of duplicity.“

—  Honoré de Balzac

Qui parle trop veut tromper.
Part I, ch. VI.
Letters of Two Brides (1841-1842)

„True love is eternal, infinite, always like unto itself; it is equable, pure, without violent demonstration“

—  Honoré de Balzac

Le lys dans la vallée http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Le_Lys_dans_la_vall%C3%A9e (1836), translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley, part II: First Love.
Context: True love is eternal, infinite, always like unto itself; it is equable, pure, without violent demonstration; white hair often covers the head, but the heart that holds it is ever young.

„Thought is a key to all treasures; the miser’s gains are ours without his cares.“

—  Honoré de Balzac

The Wild Ass’s Skin (1831), Part I: The Talisman
Context: Thought is a key to all treasures; the miser’s gains are ours without his cares. Thus I have soared above this world, where my enjoyments have been intellectual joys.

„Love is the most melodious of all harmonies and the sentiment of love is innate.“

—  Honoré de Balzac, book Physiology of Marriage

Part I, Meditation V: Of the Predestined http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Physiology_of_Marriage/Part_1/Med_5.
Physiology of Marriage (1829)
Context: Love is the most melodious of all harmonies and the sentiment of love is innate. Woman is a delightful instrument of pleasure, but it is necessary to know its trembling strings, to study the position of them, the timid keyboard, the fingering so changeful and capricious which befits it.

„Our heart is a treasury; if you pour out all its wealth at once, you are bankrupt.“

—  Honoré de Balzac, book Le Pere Goriot

Part I.
Le Père Goriot (1835)
Context: Our heart is a treasury; if you pour out all its wealth at once, you are bankrupt. We show no more mercy to the affection that reveals its utmost extent than we do to another kind of prodigal who has not a penny left.

„A country is strong which consists of wealthy families, every member of whom is interested in defending a common treasure; it is weak when composed of scattered individuals, to whom it matters little whether they obey seven or one“

—  Honoré de Balzac

Part I, ch. XII.
Letters of Two Brides (1841-1842)
Context: A country is strong which consists of wealthy families, every member of whom is interested in defending a common treasure; it is weak when composed of scattered individuals, to whom it matters little whether they obey seven or one, a Russian or a Corsican, so long as each keeps his own plot of land, blind in their wretched egotism, to the fact that the day is coming when this too will be torn from them.

„If we study Nature attentively in its great evolutions as in its minutest works, we cannot fail to recognize the possibility of enchantment — giving to that word its exact significance.“

—  Honoré de Balzac, book Séraphîta

Source: Seraphita (1835), Ch. 2: Seraphita.
Context: If we study Nature attentively in its great evolutions as in its minutest works, we cannot fail to recognize the possibility of enchantment — giving to that word its exact significance. Man does not create forces; he employs the only force that exists and which includes all others, namely Motion, the breath incomprehensible of the sovereign Maker of the universe.

„This camaraderie (the word is a stroke of genius) corrodes the noblest minds; it eats into their pride like rust, kills the germ of great deeds, and lends a sanction to moral cowardice.“

—  Honoré de Balzac, book Une fille d'Ève

Source: A Daughter of Eve (1839), Ch. 4: A Man of Note.
Context: This surface good-nature which captivates a new acquaintance and is no bar to treachery, which knows no scruple and is never at fault for an excuse, which makes an outcry at the wound which it condones, is one of the most distinctive features of the journalist. This camaraderie (the word is a stroke of genius) corrodes the noblest minds; it eats into their pride like rust, kills the germ of great deeds, and lends a sanction to moral cowardice.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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