Paul Claudel

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Paul Claudel

Paul Claudel (6 August 186823 February 1955) was a French poet, playwright and diplomat. As a writer he is best remembered for his verse dramas, and as a public servant for his five years as ambassador to the United States.


  • Il y a une chose plus triste à perdre que la vie, c’est la raison de vivre,
    Plus triste que de perdre ses biens, c’est de perdre son espérance.
    • There is something sadder to lose than life – the reason for living;
      Sadder than to lose one's possessions is to lose one's hope.
    • L'otage (Paris: Édition de la Nouvelle revue française, 1911) p. 162; Pierre Chavannes (trans.) The Hostage (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1917) p. 130.
  • Il n'y a pour les choses et pour les poèmes qu'une seule manière d'être nouveaux, c'est d'être vrais et qu'une seule manière d'être jeunes, c'est d'être éternels.
    • For things and for poems, there is but one way of being new, and that is to be true; there is only one way of being young, and that is to be eternal.
    • Positions et propositions (Paris: Gallimard, 1928) p. 16; John O'Connor (trans.) Ways and Crossways (London: Sheed & Ward, 1935) p. 49.
  • Si l'ordre est le plaisir de la raison, le désordre est le délice de l'imagination.
    • Order is the pleasure of the reason; but disorder is the delight of the imagination.
    • Le soulier de satin: ou, Le pire n'est pas toujours sûr (Paris: Gallimard, [1929] 1936) vol. 1, p. 12; John O'Connor (trans.) The Satin Slipper (London: Sheed & Ward, 1931) p. xxiii.
  • In the little moment that remains to us between the crisis and the catastrophe, we may as well drink a glass of champagne.
    • Quoted by Claud Cockburn, In Time of Trouble (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1956) p. 264.
    • Remark to a party of American officials invited to the French Embassy, as the Hoover Moratorium was being agreed in 1931.
  • Art imitates nature not in its effects as such, but in its causes, in its ‘manner,’ in its process, which are nothing but a participation in and a derivation of actual objects, of the Art of God himself.
    • as quoted in "The man who got it right," The New York Review of Books, Volume 60, Number 13, August 15, 2013, p. 72

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