Alain-René Lesage

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Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.
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The more I have to suffer, the more my character will grow.

Alain-René Lesage (May 8, 1668November 17, 1747), also spelled Le Sage, was a French novelist and playwright.


La Tontine (1709)

  • A good doctor pursues his calling without any regard to a bad result. Otherwise, teaching in medical school might be called into question and where would we be then?
  • To forbid wine to a man of your type is the same as forbidding women to a man of a different sort.
  • In order to know the worth of a virtuous husband, is it not necessary for the wife to be dispirited herself? First, give her a young man of twenty, and not only will she be fine, she'll have a reasonable husband.
  • A smart daughter ought not to examine her future husband too closely. She ought to consider it a pleasure to find one agreeable to her father.
  • I don't know any more than you what the future will hold. But my point of view is different. You see despair and I see cause for hope. I read the future in a way that is more agreeable than you do.
  • The more I have to suffer, the more my character will grow.

Gil Blas (1715-1735)

  • It may be said that his wit shines at the expense of his memory.
    • Book III, ch. 11. Compare: "The Right Honorable gentleman is indebted to his memory for his jests, and to his imagination for his facts", Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Speech in Reply to Mr. Dundas, in Sheridaniana.
  • A flatterer can risk everything with great personages.
    • Book IV, ch. 7.
  • Pride and conceit were the original sin of man.
    • Book VII, ch. 3.
  • I wish you all sorts of prosperity with a little more taste.
    • Book VII, ch. 4.
  • The pleasure of talking is the inextinguishable passion of a woman, coeval with the act of breathing.
    • Book VII, ch. 7.
  • Isocrates was in the right to insinuate, in his elegant Greek expression, that what is got over the Devil's back is spent under his belly.
    • Book VIII, ch. 9. Compare: "What is got over the Devil's back is spent under the belly", François Rabelais, Works, Book V, ch. 11.
  • Facts are stubborn things.
    • Book X, ch. 1. Earlier written by Elliot, Essay on Field Husbandry, p. 35 (1747). Translated by Tobias George Smollett, Translation of Gil Blas, Book x, Chapter 1.
  • Plain as a pike-staff.
    • Book XII, ch. 7. Compare: "A flat case as plain as a pack-staff", Thomas Middleton, The Family of Love, Act v, Scene 3.

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