Jean Giraudoux

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As soon as war is declared it will be impossible to hold the poets back. Rhyme is still the most effective drum.

Hippolyte Jean Giraudoux (29 October 188231 January 1944) was a French novelist, essayist, diplomat and playwright.


  • To win a woman in the first place one must please her, then undress her, and then somehow get her clothes back on her. Finally, so she will allow you to leave her, you've got to annoy her.
    • Amphitryon 38 (1929)
  • The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.
    • The Enchanted (1933)
  • The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made.
    • As quoted in Murphy's Law Book Two : More Reasons Why Things Go Wrong (1980) by Arthur Bloch, p. 47; similar statements became a routine part of the comedic performances of George Burns.
  • Only the mediocre are always at their best.
  • When you see a woman who can go nowhere without a staff of admirers, it is not so much because they think she is beautiful, it is because she has told them they are handsome.
    • The Man in The Apollo of Bellac: A Play in One Act, p. 12 (1954, as adapted by Maurice Valency).
  • A golf course is the epitome of all that is purely transitory in the universe; a space not to dwell in, but to get over as quickly as possible.
    • The Doctor in The Enchanted: A Comedy in Three Acts, p. 6 (1950, as adapted by Maurice Valency).
  • Vous êtes avocat! Vous avez le devoir au contraire de recourir à toutes les ruses pour défendre vos clients. Au mensonge. A la calomnie.

Tiger at the Gates (1935)[edit]

La Guerre de Troie N'Aura Pas Lieu [The Trojan War Will Not Take Place], as translated by Christopher Fry
  • In wartime a man is called a hero. It doesn't make him any braver, and he runs for his life. But at least it's a hero who is running away.
  • Everyone always dies for his country. If you have lived in it, well and wisely and actively, you die for it too.
  • As soon as war is declared it will be impossible to hold the poets back. Rhyme is still the most effective drum.
  • Born enemies don't fight. Nations you would say were designed to go to war against each other — by their skins, their language, their smell: always jealous of each other, always hating each other — they're not the ones who fight. You will find the real antagonists in nations fate has groomed and made ready for the same war.
  • There is no better way of exercising the imagination than the study of law. No poet ever interpreted nature as freely as a lawyer interprets the truth.

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