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Quotes of the day: Anatole France

Published Wednesday, April 15, 2015 @ 4:23 PM EDT
Apr 15 2015

Anatole France (born François-Anatole Thibault, April 16 1844 – October 12, 1924) was a French poet, journalist, and novelist. He was born in Paris, and died in Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire. He was a successful novelist, with several best-sellers. Ironic and skeptical, he was considered in his day the ideal French man of letters. He was a member of the Académie française, and won the 1921 Nobel Prize for Literature "in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament." (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A person is never happy except at the price of some ignorance.

A tale without love is like beef without mustard: insipid.

A woman without breasts is like a bed without pillows.

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.

All the historical books which contain no lies are extremely tedious.

America, where thanks to Congress, there are forty million laws to enforce the Ten Commandments.

Christianity has done a great deal for love by making it a sin.

He who undertakes to guide men must never lose sight of the fact that they are malicious monkeys.... The folly of the revolution was in aiming to establish virtue on the earth. When you want to make men good and wise, free, moderate, generous, you are led inevitably to the desire of killing them all.

I cling to my imperfection, as the very essence of my being.

I prefer the folly of enthusiasm to the wisdom of indifference.

If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.

If it were absolutely necessary to choose, I would rather be guilty of an immoral act than of a cruel one.

Ignorance and error are necessary to life, like bread and water.

In art as in love, instinct is enough.

In every well governed state, wealth is a sacred thing; in democracies it is the only sacred thing.

In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.

Innocence most often is a good fortune and not a virtue.

Intelligent women always marry fools.

Irony is the gaiety of reflection and the joy of wisdom.

It is by acts, and not by ideas that people live.

It is human nature to think wisely and to act in an absurd fashion.

It is in the ability to deceive oneself that one shows the greatest talent.

It is only the poor who pay cash, and that not from virtue, but because they are refused credit.

It is well for the heart to be naive and for the mind not to be.

Lovers who love truly do not write down their happiness.

Man is a rational animal. He can think up a reason for anything he wants to believe.

Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.

Nature has no principles. She furnishes us with no reason to believe that human life is to be respected. Nature, in her indifference, makes no distinction between good and evil.

Of all the ways of defining man, the worst is the one which makes him out to be a rational animal.

Only men who are not interested in women are interested in women's clothes. Men who like women never notice what they wear.

People who have no weaknesses are terrible; there is no way of taking advantage of them.

That man is prudent who neither hopes nor fears anything from the uncertain events of the future.

The average man, who does not know what to do with his life, wants another one which will be endless.

The finest words in the world are only vain sounds, if you cannot comprehend them.

The gods conform scrupulously to the sentiments of their worshippers: they have reasons for so doing.

The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.

Time deals gently only with those who take it gently.

To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.

To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything.

We reproach people for talking about themselves but it is the subject they treat best.

When a thing has been said and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.

You think you are dying for your country; you die for the industrialists.


(April 16 is also the birthday of Charlie Chaplin.)

Categories: Anatole France, Quotes of the day


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