Honore de Balzac is my new favorite author. Truth be told, I don’t think I have every read any of Balzac’s books. However, according to Leonard Sweet, Balzac drank more than 50 cups of coffee a day, which goes a long way to explaining Baudelaire’s description of him as “the novelist of energy and will.” Anyone who can drink almost as much coffee as me deserves my admiration.
Below are select quotes from Balzac:
A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband.
A husband who submits to his wife’s yoke is justly held an object of ridicule. A woman’s influence ought to be entirely concealed.
A mother who is really a mother is never free.
A mother’s happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories.
A mother’s life, you see, is one long succession of dramas, now soft and tender, now terrible. Not an hour but has its joys and fears.
All humanity is passion; without passion, religion, history, novels, art would be ineffectual.
An unfulfilled vocation drains the color from a man’s entire existence.
Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.
Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies.
But reason always cuts a poor figure beside sentiment; the one being essentially restricted, like everything that is positive, while the other is infinite.
Chance, my dear, is the sovereign deity in child-bearing.
Children, dear and loving children, can alone console a woman for the loss of her beauty.
Clouds symbolize the veils that shroud God.
Conscience is our unerring judge until we finally stifle it.
Death unites as well as separates; it silences all paltry feeling.
Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on earth can ever turn it into a fact.
Excess of joy is harder to bear than any amount of sorrow.
First love is a kind of vaccination which saves a man from catching the complaint the second time.
Great love affairs start with Champagne and end with tisane.
I do not regard a broker as a member of the human race.
If those who are the enemies of innocent amusements had the direction of the world, they would take away the spring, and youth, the former from the year, the latter from human life.
If we could but paint with the hand what we see with the eye.
In diving to the bottom of pleasure we bring up more gravel than pearls.
It is as absurd to say that a man can’t love one woman all the time as it is to say that a violinist needs several violins to play the same piece of music.
It is easy to sit up and take notice, What is difficult is getting up and taking action.
Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.
Love is a game in which one always cheats.
Marriage must incessantly contend with a monster that devours everything: familiarity.
Nature makes only dumb animals. We owe the fools to society.
No man should marry until he has studied anatomy and dissected at least one woman.
Nothing is a greater impediment to being on good terms with others than being ill at ease with yourself.
One should believe in marriage as in the immortality of the soul.
Political liberty, the peace of a nation, and science itself are gifts for which Fate demands a heavy tax in blood!
Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell you that solitude is fine.
Study lends a kind of enchantment to all our surroundings.
The duration of passion is proportionate with the original resistance of the woman.
The more one judges, the less one loves.
The motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom; to serve all, but love only one.
Vocations which we wanted to pursue, but didn’t, bleed, like colors, on the whole of our existence.
We exaggerate misfortune and happiness alike. We are never as bad off or as happy as we say we are.
What is art? Nature concentrated.
When women love us, they forgive us everything, even our crimes; when they do not love us, they give us credit for nothing, not even our virtues.