Alfred de Vigny

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History is a novel whose author is the people.

Alfred Victor de Vigny (March 27 1797September 17 1863) was a poet, playwright, and novelist. Until the rise of Victor Hugo he was considered to be the leader of the Romantic movement in France.


  • L'existence du Soldat est (après la peine de mort) la trace la plus douloureuse de barbarie qui subsiste parmi les hommes.
    • The soldier's lot is the most melancholy relic of barbarism (next to capital punishment) that lingers on among mankind.
    • Servitude et grandeur militaires; (ed.) Paul Viallaneix Oeuvres complètes, (1965) p. 358; translation from Humphrey Hare (trans.) The Military Necessity (1953) p. 17.   (1835).
  • Tout homme a vu le mur qui borne son esprit.
    • Every man has seen the wall that limits his mind.
    • Poèmes philosophiques, "La flute", line 108; (ed.) Paul Viallaneix Oeuvres complètes (1965) p. 103; translation from Jason Merchey Values of the Wise (2004) p. 200.   (1843).

Cinq-Mars; ou, une conjuration sous Louis XIII (1826)[edit]

Quotations are taken from the 1863 edition.

  • L'histoire est un roman dont le peuple est l'auteur.
    • History is a novel whose author is the people.
    • "Réflexions sur la vérité dans l'art", p. 6; translation from James H. Johnson Listening in Paris (1995) p. 252.
  • On étouffe les clameurs, mais comment se venger du silence?
    • Clamour can be stifled, but how avenge oneself on silence?
    • Chap. 26, p. 433; translation by William Hazlitt from Cinq-Mars (1847) p. 344.

Journal d'un poète (1867)[edit]

Quotations are taken from the 1949 edition.

  • Un désespoir paisible, sans convulsions de colère et sans reproches au ciel est la sagesse même.
    • A calm despair, without angry convulsions or reproaches directed at heaven, is the essence of wisdom.
    • Page 32.
  • Les acteurs sont bien heureux, ils ont une gloire sans responsabilité.
    • Actors are lucky, they have glory without responsibility.
    • Page 44.
  • La presse est une bouche forcée d'être toujours ouverte et de parler toujours. De là vient qu'elle dit mille fois qu'elle n'a rien à dire.
    • The press is a mouth forced to be forever open and forever talking. Consequently it says a thousand times that it has nothing to say.
    • Page 48.
  • Un livre est une bouteille jetée en pleine mer sur laquelle il faut coller cette étiquette: attrape qui peut.
    • A book is a bottle thrown into the sea on which this label should be attached: Catch as catch can.
    • Page 93.
  • Le théâtre n'a jamais été en Angleterre qu'une mode des hautes classes ou une débauche du bas peuple.
    • In England the theatre has never been anything but a fashion for the upper classes or a debauch for the common people.
    • Page 348.

Quotes about Alfred de Vigny[edit]

  • I was always fascinated with the 1820s, that romantic decade, and the revolution of 1830 which was of course a disaster everywhere, and 1848. I still read with great joy about that period, I don't know why. It's funny how you find a decade, or a period or a place that you just respond to. (“It is a long time ago, and it's a very confused period…”) Very confused, yes. Very good writers you had in France particularly, Vigny, people like that, oh! I love Vigny, and they meant a great deal to me, those people. I haven't read them for many, many years. But they also shaped my view of the world.

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