Edmond de Goncourt and Jules de Goncourt
Quotations


As a general truth, it is safe to say that any picture that produces a moral impression is a bad picture.

There have been many definitions of beauty in art. What is it? Beauty is what the untrained eyes consider abominable.

Man is a mind betrayed, not served, by his organs.

A book is never a masterpiece: it becomes one. Genius is the talent of a dead man.

There are moments when, faced with our lack of success, I wonder whether we are failures, proud but impotent. One thing reassures me as to our value: the boredom that afflicts us. It is the hall-mark of quality in modern men.

Debauchery is perhaps an act of despair in the face of infinity.

How utterly futile debauchery seems once it has been accomplished, and what ashes of disgust it leaves in the soul! The pity of it is that the soul outlives the body, or in other words that impression judges sensation and that one thinks about and finds fault with the pleasure one has taken.

The facts: nothing matters but the facts: worship of the facts leads to everything, to happiness first of all and then to wealth.

The English are crooked as a nation and honest as individuals. The contrary is true of the French, who are honest as a nation and crooked as individuals.

There are only two great currents in the history of mankind: the baseness which makes conservatives and the envy which makes revolutionaries.

Sickness sensitizes man for observation, like a photographic plate.

One of the proud joys of the man of letters--if that man of letters is an artist--is to feel within himself the power to immortalize at will anything he chooses to immortalize. Insignificant though he may be, he is conscious of possessing a creative divinity. God creates lives; the man of imagination creates fictional lives which may make a profound and as it were more living impression on the world's memory.

Today I begin to understand what love must be, if it exists. . . . When we are parted, we each feel the lack of the other half of ourselves. We are incomplete like a book in two volumes of which the first has been lost. That is what I imagine love to be: incompleteness in absence.

The reason for the sadness of this modern age and the men who live in it is that it looks for the truth in everything and finds it.

That which, perhaps, hears more nonsense than anything in the world, is a picture in a museum.

The newspaper is the natural enemy of the book, as the whore is of the decent woman.

Any man who does not see everything in terms of self, that is to say who wants to be something in respect of other men, to do good to them or simply give them something to do, is unhappy, disconsolate, and accursed.

I feel sure that coups d'état would go much better if there were seats, boxes, and stalls so that one could see what was happening and not miss anything.



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