I’m in a mood for Flaubert. I love the way he searched endlessly for le mot juste (the exact – uniquely correct – word, the most precisely accurate language). Sometimes he found the words that evoked and carried more truth than any fact could possibly do.
Love art. Of all lies, it is the least untrue.
For none of us can ever express the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.
But it was above all at mealtimes that she could bear it no longer, in that little room on the ground floor, with the smoking stove, the creaking door, the oozing walls, the damp floor-tiles; all the bitterness of life seemed to be served to her on her plate, and, with the steam from the boiled beef, there rose from the depths of her soul other exhalations as it were of disgust.
But the disparaging of those we love always alienates us from them to some extent. We must not touch our idols; the gilt comes off in our hands.
The thirst for carnage stirred afresh within him; animals failing him, he desired to slaughter men.
Perfection is the enemy of the good.
To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.
The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletarian to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeois.
Here is true immorality: ignorance and stupidity; the devil is nothing but this. His name is Legion.
Stupidity is something unshakable; nothing attacks it without breaking itself against it; it is of the nature of granite, hard and resistant.
A thing derided is a thing dead; a laughing man is stronger than a suffering man.
The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.
Who is there to talk to now? Who is there in our wretched country who still ‘cares about literature’? Perhaps one single man? Me! The wreckage of a lost world, an old fossil of romanticism!
Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.
The author, in his work, must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.
Judge the goodness of a book by the energy of the punches it has given you. I believe the greatest characteristic of genius, is, above all, force.
A memory is a beautiful thing, it’s almost a desire that you miss.
Oh, if I had been loved at the age of seventeen, what an idiot I would be today. Happiness is like smallpox: if you catch it too soon, it can completely ruin your constitution.
One must always hope when one is desperate, and doubt when one hopes.
Madame Bovary, c’est moi.