Perhaps of all the creations of man language is the most astonishing.
It is probably always disastrous not to be a poet.
Human beings are too important to be treated as mere symptoms of the past. They have a value which is independent of any temporal process──which is eternal, and must be felt for its own sake.
Ignorance is the first requisite of the historian - ignorance, which simplifies and clarifies, which selects and omits, with a placid perfection unattainable by the highest art.
Though, with the ascendancy of Louis, the political power of the nobles finally came to an end, France remained, in the whole complexion of her social life, completely aristocratic.
The old interests of aristocracy - the romance of action, the exalted passions of chivalry and war - faded into the background, and their place was taken by the refined and intimate pursuits of peace and civilization.
There are a great deal of a great many kinds of love.
A writer’s promise is like a tiger’s smile
The amateur is very rare in French literature - as rare as he is common in our own.
The genius of the French language, descended from its single Latin stock, has triumphed most in the contrary direction - in simplicity, in unity, in clarity, and in restraint.
Englishmen have always loved Moliere.
It is perhaps as difficult to write a good life as to live one.
Discretion is not the better part of biography.
During this earlier period of his activity Voltaire seems to have been trying - half unconsciously, perhaps - to discover and to express the fundamental quality of his genius.
English dramatic literature is, of course, dominated by Shakespeare; and it is almost inevitable that an English reader should measure the value of other poetic drama by the standards which Shakespeare has already implanted in his mind.
But Racine's extraordinary powers as a writer become still more obvious when we consider that besides being a great poet he is also a great psychologist.
Perhaps the best test of a man's intelligence is his capacity for making a summary.
With a very few exceptions, every word in the French vocabulary comes straight from the Latin.
When the French nation gradually came into existence among the ruins of the Roman civilization in Gaul, a new language was at the same time slowly evolved.
When Louis XIV assumed the reins of government France suddenly and wonderfully came to her maturity; it was as if the whole nation had burst into splendid flower.
There is something dark and wintry about the atmosphere of the later Middle Ages.
The history of the Victorian Age will never be written: we know too much about it.
Modern as the style of Pascal's writing is, his thought is deeply impregnated with the spirit of the Middle Ages. He belonged, almost equally, to the future and to the past.
In pure literature, the writers of the eighteenth century achieved, indeed, many triumphs; but their great, their peculiar, triumphs were in the domain of thought.
If this is dying, I don't think much of it.
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