Sully Prudhomme

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Sully Prudhomme

Sully Prudhomme, pseudonym of René François Armand Prudhomme (C.E.1839 – 1907), French poet, Nobel Prize for Literature.
Award (Nobel): literature (C.E.1901)}}

Quotes by Sully Prudhomme:

  • He who knows die, has no longer a master. [1]
  • And you think she's dead? | No. The day I mourned for her, | I did not distinguish funereal hanging drapes | nor did I see a coffin before his door. From [2]

Friendship makes one love life, love gives taste to death. From [3]

  • I think of my young colleagues who don't have the means to have their first poems printed. I'm going to reserve a sum [the one I received for the Nobel Prize] that will allow them to have their first notebooks of poems printed. I have already received a large amount of requests whose fulfillment would absorb the entire prize. [4]

I feel the greatest joy and pride, and I rejoice at the thought that the honour of so high a distinction disputed by writers whom I placed above me will be reflected on my country, to which I owe all that this honour rewards in my works. [5]

  • It is I, who deceives the breeze | with my pretty heartbeats... | O women! Sometimes, I lure her in | to your beautiful radiant eyes; || Sometimes, I catch her: and I bow, | making her my prisoner, | Why He Caresses Your Little Face | with a caress [sic]. || I bring you, to moved ears, | – of your hair trembling – | The sigh that makes them red | with sweet words of love. || It is I, who for you I am the one who sums it up: | And I help you to dissemble | or your sly smile, | or tears ready to flow. From Il fan[6]
  • We see sometimes, in the dark schools, | Kids who are always crying. | They go wild, the others in somersaults, | but they curl up in a song. | The strong say that they are maidens, | And the cunning call them innocent. | They are sweet, they give us toys; they will certainly not be traders...Quoted in: Gabriel D'Aubarède, The life and works of Sully Prudhomme, translation by Maria Luisa Spaziani, in The Nobel Prizes for Literature, vol. II, pp. 27-28.</ref>

Intimate diary:


October 1, C.E.1862

Have a nice day. – Roman law, worked with pleasure... I'm worth more than I thought. At five o'clock there is an intense meditation on consciousness (it is and knows that it is). ... Reflections on happiness; one must not dream of happiness outside of the fundamental conditions of the human essence; Now, our essence involves satiety and boredom; Happiness, therefore, consists in the satisfaction of our essence, but in the exercise of our faculties; it is an earthly condition.
Poem: You resemble my youth.


  • When a woman is truly chaste, she is also incorruptible; I will be less likely to believe in the moral failures of angelic women. (Thursday, October 2, C.E.[1862], p. 51)
  • I will come to a solution about the problem of time. When the infinite shows a hem of its garment, it casts its immense shadow over the problem; Then we grope, but it is a lost effort. (Saturday, October 4, C.E.[1862],, p. 52)
  • Pascal, I admire you, you are mine, I penetrate your thought as if I thought in you; magnanimous, deep sadness, deep as night; How it is full of faint distant lights! Be my teacher, adopt me; I suffer endlessly, I gravitate towards the truth, I never reach it. Have you really believed the revelation? (Sunday, October 5, C.E.[1862],, p. 53)

Do not think, my friend, that man is capable of feeling as much happiness as he can conceive; There is less force in desire and imagination than in sensibility. (Thursday, February 19, C.E.[1863], p. 75)

  • When one has delved into a philosophical problem, one must, somehow, step back like a painter in front of the picture and look at what he has produced. (Saturday, January 30, C.E.[1864],, p. 87)
  • Discourse on Virtue. Virtue does not promise anything, it merely takes pleasure in its own deeds. To courage he proposes trials of pain, and as a reward to life he offers the pure feeling of dignity. (Monday, February 1, C.E.[1864],, p. 92)

Quotes about Sully Prudhomme:

  • That Sully Prudhomme is a brilliant artist, a very delicate poet, is well known by those who have heard, with or without music, his famous Vase brisé. That he is a highly cultured thinker, a keen philosopher, is known to those who have compelled his ponderous volume on Expression in the Fine Arts. He did not, however, wish to keep his different faculties separate, contenting himself with writing now inspired verses and now rigorous reasoning; he also composed poems entitled The Destinies, Justice and Happiness with the heart of a poet and the mind of a philosopher. This part of his work is the most noteworthy, because it refers to one of the most singular problems of our time. (Federico De Roberto)
  • The people who could best think about art seem to be artists. An exquisite artist, a delicate poet like Sully Prudhomme, who possesses, with his artistic faculties, a solid literary and, more importantly, scientific culture, has given us the book of Expression in the Fine Arts, which is among the most thoughtful and ponderous to appear in recent years. Although the title speaks only of expression, many other problems of aesthetics are included in this one that the author proposes to solve. The first of all is, without a doubt, the one concerning the nature of art, or rather the relationship between art and nature. (Federico De Roberto)
  • Sully Prudhomme is a writer of equal depth. You bathe in it without fear and always hit rock bottom. (Jules Renard)


  1. From Indépendance; quoted in Fernando Palazzi, Silvio Spaventa Filippi, The Book of a Thousand Wise Men, Hoepli, Milan, 2022, no. 4675. ISBN 978-88-203-3911-1
  2. Junes Filles; quoted in Gabriel D'Aubarède, The Life and Works of Sully Prudhomme, translated by Maria Luisa Spaziani, in The Nobel Prizes for Literature, vol. II, p. 31.
  3. Thoughts, p. 186.
  4. Quoted in Gunnar Ahlström, The Conferral of the Nobel Prize on Sully Prudhomme, in The Nobel Prizes in Literature, vol II, p. 12.
  5. From the letter sent to the Swedish Academy for the award of the Nobel Prize, Châtenay, November 19, 1901; quoted in Gunnar Ahlström, The Conferral of the Nobel Prize on Sully Prudhomme, in The Nobel Prizes for Literature, vol. II, p. 10.
  6. , in AA. VV., Parnassiani e simbolisti francesi, lyrics selected and translated by Vincenzo Errante, Sansoni, Florence, 1953, p. 231.


  • Sully Prudhomme, Journal inintima, translated by Pietro Lazzaro, Pensieri (Pensées), translated by Pietro Lazzaro, Poesie (Poésies), translated by Maria Luisa Spaziani, in I Premi Nobel per la Letteratura, vol. II, Fratelli Fabbri Editori, Milan, 1965.

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