André Gide

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Sin is whatever obscures the soul.

André Paul Guillaume Gide (22 November 186919 February 1951) was a French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1947.

Sourced

  • Familles, je vous hais! foyers clos; portes refermées; possessions jalouses du bonheur.
    • Translation: Families, I hate you! Shut-in homes, closed doors, jealous possessions of happiness.
    • Les Nourritures Terrestres (Fruits of the Earth), Bk. IV (1897)
  • " Nathaniel, let every emotion be capable becoming an intoxication to you. If what you eat fails to make you drunk, it is because you are not hungry enough."
    • Les Nourritures Terrestres (Fruits of the Earth)
  • What another would have done as well as you, do not do it. What another would have said as well as you, do not say it; what another would have written as well, do not write it. Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself-and thus make yourself indispensable.
    • Les Nourritures Terrestres (Fruits of the Earth), Envoi
  • True kindness presupposes the faculty of imagining as one’s own the suffering and joys of others.
    • Portraits and Aphorisms, Pretexts (1903)
  • Le péché, c'est ce qui obscurcit l'âme.
    • Translation: Sin is whatever obscures the soul.
    • La Symphonie Pastorale (1919)
  • The most decisive actions of our life—I mean those that are most likely to decide the whole course of our future—are, more often than not, unconsidered.
    • Les Faux Monnayeurs (The Counterfeiters), Pt. 3, ch. 16 (1926)
  • Art begins with resistance - at the point where resistance is overcome. No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor.
    • Poétique
  • C'est avec de beaux sentiments qu'on fait de la mauvaise littérature.
    • Translation: It is with noble sentiments that bad literature gets written.
    • Letter to François Mauriac (1928)

Journals 1889-1949

  • Man is more interesting than men. God made him and not them in his image. Each one is more precious than all.
    • Literature and Ethics, entry for 1901
  • The abominable effort to take one’s sins with one to paradise.
    • Detached Pages, entry for 1913
  • No theory is good unless it permits, not rest, but the greatest work. No theory is good except on condition that one use it to go on beyond.
    • Detached Pages, entry for 1913
  • Old hands soil, it seems, whatever they caress, but they too have their beauty when they are joined in prayer. Young hands were made for caresses and the sheathing of love. It is a pity to make them join too soon.
    • Entry for January 21, 1929
  • The sole art that suits me is that which, rising from unrest, tends toward serenity.
    • Entry for November 23, 1940

Unsourced

  • A straight path never leads anywhere except to the objective.
  • Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.
  • At times is it seems that I am living my life backward, and that at the approach of old age my real youth will begin. My soul was born covered with wrinkles— wrinkles that my ancestors and parents most assiduously put there and that I had the greatest trouble removing.
  • Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
  • Complete possession is proved only by giving. All you are unable to give possesses you.
  • Dare to be yourself.
  • Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.
  • Great authors are admirable in this respect: in every generation they make for disagreement. Through them we become aware of our differences.
  • I owe much to my friends; but, all things considered, it strikes me that I owe even more to my enemies. The real person springs to life under a sting even better than under a caress.
  • In hell there is no other punishment than to begin over and over again the tasks left unfinished in your lifetime.
  • It is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not.
  • It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace.
  • It is good to follow one's own bent, so long as it leads upward.
  • It is not always by plugging away at a difficulty and sticking to it that one overcomes it; often it is by working on the one next to it. Some things and some people have to be approached obliquely, at an angle.
  • It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves— in finding themselves.
  • Know thyself! A maxim as pernicious as it is ugly. Whoever observes himself arrests his own development. A caterpillar who wanted to know itself well would never become a butterfly.
  • Most quarrels amplify a misunderstanding.
  • Nothing is so silly as the expression of a man who is being complimented.
  • Nothing prevents happiness like the memory of happiness.
  • Obtain from yourself all that makes complaining useless. No longer implore from others what you yourself can obtain.
  • One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
  • Perverting the young! As if initiation in sexual pleasure was in itself an act of perversion! In general it is quite the opposite!'
  • So long as we live among men, let us cherish humanity.
  • "The dogs bark but the caravan rolls on" (in response to critics)
  • The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.
    • variant: Only those things are beautiful which are inspired by madness and written by reason.
  • The most gifted natures are perhaps also the most trembling.
  • The most important things to say are those which often I did not think necessary for me to say— because they were too obvious.
  • The want of logic annoys. Too much logic bores. Life eludes logic, and everything that logic alone constructs remains artificial and forced.
  • There are admirable potentialities in every human being. Believe in your strength and your youth. Learn to repeat endlessly to yourself, 'It all depends on me'.
  • There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.
  • There is no prejudice that the work of art does not finally overcome.
  • "Therefore" is a word the poet must not know.
  • Through loyalty to the past, our mind refuses to realize that tomorrow's joy is possible only if today's makes way for it; that each wave owes the beauty of its line only to the withdrawal of the preceding one.
  • To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company.
  • To what a degree the same past can leave different marks— and especially admit of different interpretations.
  • Welcome anything that comes to you, but do not long for anything else.
  • What would there be in a story of happiness? Only what prepares it, only what destroys it can be told.
  • Work and struggle and never accept an evil that you can change.
  • Victor Hugo, hélas
    • In response to the question, "Who is the greatest French poet?"
  • If a young writer can refrain from writing, he shouldn't hesitate to do so.
    • In response to the question, "What is your advice to young writers?"

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