Anne Louise Germaine de Staël
Anne Louise Germaine de Staël (April 22, 1766 – July 14, 1817), commonly known as Madame de Staël, was a French-speaking Swiss author living in Paris and abroad, who determined literary tastes of Europe at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
- On cesse de s'aimer si quelqu'un ne nous aime.
- We cease loving ourselves if no one loves us.
- Sophie, or The Secret Sentiments (Sophie, ou les sentiments secrets, 1790), Act 2, sc. 8
- L'amour est l'histoire de la vie des femmes; c'est un épisode dans celle des hommes.
- The evil arising from mental improvement can be corrected only by a still further progress in that very improvement. Either morality is a fable, or the more enlightened we are, the more attached to it we become.
- The Influence of Literature upon Society (De la littérature considérée dans ses rapports avec les istitutions sociales, 1800), Pt. 2, ch. 4
- If we would succeed in works of the imagination, we must offer a mild morality in the midst of rigid manners; but where the manners are corrupt, we must consistently hold up to view an austere morality.
- The Influence of Literature upon Society (1800), Pt. 2, ch. 5
- One must, in one's life, make a choice between boredom and suffering.
- Letter to Claude Hochet (Summer 1800), quoted in J. Christopher Herold, Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël (New York: Grove Press, 1958), p. 223
- Herold comments: "Her decision was emphatically in favor of suffering, which after all was a pleasure compared to boredom." (p. 224)
- Un homme doit savoir braver l'opinion; une femme s'y soumettre.
- It seems to me that life's circumstances, being ephemeral, teach us less about durable truths than the fictions based on those truths; and that the best lessons of delicacy and self-respect are to be found in novels where the feelings are so naturally portrayed that you fancy you are witnessing real life as you read.
- Delphine (1802), Preface
- In matters of the heart, nothing is true except the improbable.
- Letter to Juliette Récamier (October 5, 1810), quoted in J. Christopher Herold, Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël (New York: Grove Press, 1958), p. 401
- Superstition attaches to this life, and religion to the next; superstition is allied to fatality, and religion to virtue; it is from the vivacity of earthly desires that we become superstitious, and it is, on the contrary, by the sacrifice of these same desires that we are religious.
- Ten Years' Exile (Dix années d'exil, written 1810–1813, posthumously published 1821), ch. 16
- Life often seems like a long shipwreck, of which the débris are friendship, fame, and love.
- Reflections on Suicide (Réflexions sur le suicide, 1813), Section 1
- Madame de Staël thought it was pride in mankind to endeavour to penetrate the secret of the universe; and speaking of the higher metaphysics she said: "I prefer the Lord's Prayer to it all."
- Sketch of the Life, Character, and Writings of Baroness de Staël-Holstein (1820) by Albertine-Adrienne Necker de Saussure, p. 349; often misquoted as, "I desire no other evidence of the truth of Christianity than the Lord's Prayer."
- Sow good services: sweet remembrances will grow from them.
- Quoted in A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness (1880) collected and translated by J. D. Finod, p. 138
- Men do not change; they unmask themselves.
- Quoted in Invasion of the Party Snatchers : How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP (2008) by Victor Gold
- Frivolity, under whatever form it appears, deprives attention of its power, thought of its originality, and sentiment of its depth.
- Bk. 1, ch. 3
- Tout ce qui est naturel est varié.
- All that is natural is varied.
- Bk. 1, ch. 4
- When once enthusiasm has been turned into ridicule, everything is undone except money and power.
- Bk. 4, ch. 3
- You do not reach the sublime by degrees; the distance between it and the merely beautiful is infinite.
- Bk. 4, ch. 3
- La vue d'un tel monument est comme une musique continuelle et fixée, qui vous attend pour vous faire du bien quand vous vous en approchez.
- The sight of such a monument is like continual and stationary music, which one hears for one's good as one approaches it.
- Bk. 4, ch. 3
- The idea that "architecture is frozen music" — an aphorism of disputed origin sometimes misattributed to de Staël — is found in a number of German writers of the period.
- When men do wrong, it is out of hardness; when women do wrong, it is out of weakness.
- Bk. 6, ch. 3
- Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time; effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end: we fancy that we have always possessed what we love, so difficult is it to imagine how we could have lived without it.
- Bk. 8, ch. 2, as translated by Isabel Hill (1833)
- Variant translation: It is certainly through love that eternity can be understood; it confuses all thoughts about time; it destroys the ideas of beginning and end; one thinks one has always been in love with the person one loves, so difficult is it to conceive that one could live without him.
- As translated by Sylvia Raphael (1998)
- Beauty is one in the universe, and, whatever form it assumes, it always arouses a religious feeling in the hearts of mankind.
- Bk. 8, ch. 2
- Let us then blend everything: love, religion, genius, with sunshine, perfume, music, and poetry.
- Bk. 10, ch. 5
- O Earth! all bathed with blood and tears, yet never
Hast thou ceased putting forth thy fruit and flowers.
- Bk. 13, ch. 4, as translated by Letitia Elizabeth Landon for Isabel Hill (1833)
- Ought not every woman, like every man, to follow the bent of her own talents?
- Bk. 14, ch. 1
- Tout comprendre rend très-indulgent.
De l’Allemagne [Germany] (1813)
- L'esprit consiste à connaître la ressemblance des choses diverses et la différence des choses semblables.
- Wit lies in recognizing the resemblance among things which differ and the difference between things which are alike.
- Pt. 3, ch. 8
- The voice of conscience is so delicate that it is easy to stifle it; but it is also so clear that it is impossible to mistake it.
- Pt. 3, ch. 13
- La recherche de la vérité est la plus noble des occupations, et sa publication un devoir.
- Ces règles ne sont que des barrières pour empêcher les enfants de tomber.
- The sense of this word among the Greeks affords the noblest definition of it; enthusiasm signifies God in us.
- Pt. 4, ch. 10